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How low can you go?

As the EU proposes forcing carmakers to increase the fuel efficiency of new cars by 20% by 2012, Manchester City Council launch a green parking scheme for low emission cars, and the words carbon and footprint are the new buzz, what can you do to reduce CO2 emissions?
   
A quick look at the Department of Transport new ActonCO2 website confirms what Drive On readers already know – ‘smarter driving’ not only cuts down on carbon emissions, it reduces motoring bills as well. And the mantra is – check tyres, check your speed and cut the crap!

• Check tyres

   
An under-inflated tyre creates extra rolling resistance, which makes your car work harder. The harder the engine has to work, the more fuel you burn and the greater your CO2 emissions.
   
Checking tyre pressures regularly will also increase their life – you’ll find all the necessary information about tyre pressures, including adjustments for heavier loads, in the owner’s manual. And, remember, an over-inflated tyre reduces rubber contact with the road and is dangerous!

• Check your speed

   
Driving at higher speeds burns more fuel and increases CO2 emissions. Slowing from 65 to 55mph can represent a 20% reduction in fuel consumption. Stop/start driving also squanders fuel – better to keep an eye on the traffic conditions ahead and slow down early by gently lifting your foot off the accelerator while keeping the car in gear. As you approach the vehicle in front, traffic may have begun to move again, allowing you to change gear and move ahead.
   
And pumping the pedal as the lights turn to green – apart from winding up the driver of the car alongside you and winding up your own blood pressure into the bargain – wears out your engine, wastes your fuel and increases CO2 output. Bad news for your pocket and your health – whichever way you look at it.
   
The Department of Transport recommends using your gears wisely by changing up a gear a little earlier. If you drive a diesel car, they suggest changing up a gear when the rev counter reaches 2000rpm. For a petrol car, change up at 2500rpm. And switch off the engine if you’re likely to be at a standstill for more than three minutes.

• Cut the crap

   
It’s simple – the lighter your car, the more fuel efficient it is and the lower your carbon emissions.
   
For more information on climate change and carbon emissions, go to www.dft.gov.uk/actonco2.
 

Added: May 24 2007

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