15 Aug 2011

Saving Money - Going Places.

We were recently invited to attend the Shell Fuel Save event at Manchester Museum of Science and Industry on behalf of Emma over at Parent Wheels as she was unable to go, we went instead!  As I had never attended an event like this, nor had I ever been invited to one it seemed like I was popping some sort of blogging cherry!  We were rather excited as we hopped up the M62 all the way to Manchester.  I feel I must point out here that we did not actually hop, we drove, in the car!  When we got there, I saw a couple of bloggers who's faces I recognised and a few I did not.  Everyone had taken their kids so K and M went off with the other children and did car related activities for the morning with some very organised childcare whilst we had a bit of a presentation from Quentin Wilson and Johanne Smith a.k.a Dr Fuel from Shell (she's a fuel scientist you know!) We learned how to save fuel and how you can make simple, yet effective changes to your driving habits which saves you both money and fuel.  It was a really interesting day, plus Misteright was told by Quentin Wilson himself that he was an excellent driver and he was unable to give him any advice (which made his head swell slightly!)  
The kids had a brilliant time playing with the other bloggy children and the PRs did an amazing job of making them feel included in the day.  They had this funny interactive car game that the kids were playing on, they got them all right but I fell for the red herring and lost a point so they won!  I did not live that down all the way home!  We did however drive home with the air-con off and the windows closed, resulting in a wonderfully scenic detour across the countryside on the way home to compensate!

So I suppose now you want some tips for saving money and fuel? 

Buy Shell FuelSave fuel... not just because Dr Fuel said you should but because it really can save you money on your fuel, they say that it can save you up to 20% on your fuel bills and in this economic climate you'd be a fool not to fill up with it as it costs the same as normal fuel at the pumps!

Use the correct oil by always using the recommended grade of motor oil as if your engine is not lubricated properly it will not run as well.

Tune and service your engine as a small fault such as a clogged air filter can decrease your fuel economy and damage your engine if it goes un-noticed.

Keeping your tyres at the right pressure is safer and it helps your tyres last longer too!   Tyre that is under inflated by as little as 10% can reduce fuel economy.

Drive smoothly, don’t accelerate or brake too hard and try to avoid rough steering as this can use as much as a third more fuel!

Use higher gears and don’t over rev because the higher the gear you’re driving in, the lower your engine speed is.  That means that you’re not over working the engine.  Change gear in good time when you pull away or accelerate and NEVER red line the rev counter.

Conserve momentum and keep your distance.  Think ahead whilst driving, things like slowing down early to let traffic lights change rather than stopping completely or speeding up a little before you reach the foot of a hill.  Also leaving a sensible distance between you and the car ahead to allow you time to brake evenly.  Braking hard wastes fuel and destroys any energy that has been created. 

Use cruise control on major roads (if you have it) as it helps maintain a constant speed which in many cases will improve fuel consumption.

Avoid excess idling as it gets you nowhere fast and it still burns your fuel.  Try turning the engine off when you’re in a queue or waiting for someone, only turn it back on again when you need it.  Try out the rule that if your idle for more than 10 seconds the engine goes off.

Don’t drive too fast!  The faster you go the more wind resistance you will encounter and the more fuel your car will consume just to maintain driving.  Try driving a few miles under the limit to see how much it improves your fuel economy by!

Use your air-con sparingly as it puts added strain on the engine and uses your precious fuel to operate, so limit using it to super-hot days.  You could always put the blowers on instead!

Keep your windows closed as wind blowing in through an open window will slow you down. To compensate for this you might put your foot down harder and this will use more fuel.

Planning your trips carefully will cut down on the time spent in the car and is the easiest way to help you save fuel. To reduce your driving time, why not combine all of your short trips and errands into one single journey and consider the times that you travel as travelling in the rush hour will mean you’ll spend more time stuck in traffic which means using more fuel.

Avoid carrying excess weight.  You might be surprised, but every pound or kilogram matters and affects your fuel efficiency so make sure you don’t have unnecessary items in the boot or on the back seat.  I mean is it really necessary to take all of that junk in your trunk on every journey?

  It’s heavy and it will directly affect the aerodynamic efficiency of your vehicle by creating drag.  This is will also reduce your fuel economy.

Lady drivers should always have a spare pair of flat shoes for driving.  Heels are designed to look pretty and are not practical to drive in at all.  The shape of heels means that the tip of your toes always press down and in turn press harder on the accelerator without you even realising. 

To help you understand how you can get more miles for your gallons and start saving then make sure you reset the mileage to 0 every time you fill up, it will become second nature after a while and you can save up to 20% per year on your car fuel bills.

We received a day out at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry and a free lunch and some amazing childcare whilst we were in the sessions courtesy of Shell FuelSave.
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