How to be a Greener Driver

There are over 32 million vehicles in the UK, which shows how much we love our four-wheeled friends. Unfortunately, this isn't good news for the environment. Here's how to exercise some valuable damage limitation...

Electric Car

1. Watch Your Speed

Vehicle emissions are at their lowest when travelling between 40 and 60mph. Keep within these speeds and you will use around 30% less fuel. Around 100 tonnes of CO2 would be saved every year if 5,000 drivers drove at 60mph instead of 70mph. Equally, if you've slowed to a standstill in heavy traffic, switch the engine off. Restarting it uses less energy than 10 seconds of idling.

2. Go Electric

Electric cars have no exhaust emissions. Plug them in, charge them up and away you go - but not quickly. Electric cars max out at 50mph and may need topping up after just 30 miles, making them better for urban driving. However, they are exempt from road tax and eligible for cheaper parking rates. Technology is evolving all the time. Keep track of developments at Green Car Guide.

3. Scale Down

Owning an environmentally-friendly car is a big step towards reducing your carbon footprint. In general, small cars and those with smaller engines produce less CO2, but always compare the emissions of similarly-priced vehicles before you buy as they can vary hugely. The Vehicle Certification Agency lists the fuel economy and emissions data for all makes and models. Alternatively, visit Green Car Site for vehicle reviews and the latest developments in eco-friendly motoring.

4. Drive Sensibly

By being a better driver, you will keep fuel wastage to a minimum. Accelerating smoothly, braking gradually and changing gear as early as possible all helps to reduce emissions and are now also a consideration of the practical driving test. Visit the Driving Standards Agency website and search for 'eco safe' for more details. You will also find ten steps to efficient driving on the Energy Saving Trust website.

5. Get a Service

Look after your car and have it serviced regularly to keep it running as efficiently as possible. A poorly-performing engine won't make optimum use of the fuel; an ill-fitting petrol cap will allow petrol to evaporate and ensure the air and fuel filters are clean too. If your tyres are maintained at the correct pressure, you could save fuel and approximately 10kg of CO2 every 500 miles.

6. Check the Fuel Guage

Get to know your vehicle's general fuel consumption and keep an eye on it. That way, you will be quick to notice any overall changes which could indicate a fault. Knowing what uses extra fuel is also handy. As our summers seem to be getting hotter, air conditioning is becoming an increasingly attractive feature, but running it continuously eats up fuel and on-board electrical devices such as mobile phone chargers also take their toll.

7. Lift Share

Car sharing is a great way to reduce carbon emissions. On average, 24.6 miles are driven every day by single-user vehicles. By sharing a car with someone in your area, you could save over a tonne of CO2 per year and up to £1,000 in transport costs, according to Liftshare, one of a number of online services to formalise the pairing-up process. Others include Carshare and Is Anyone Going To?.

8. Join a Car Club

If you drive less than 6,000 miles a year, join a car club. This 'pay as you go' approach allows members to hire a car when they need one and avoid the ongoing costs of maintenance, parking permits and tax, whilst helping to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Find a club in your area with Carplus.

9. Recycle

Recycling car parts rather than using new ones saves money. It also keeps the materials usefully in circulation for longer and reduces the overall impact of car ownership. Companies such as Carparts UK and Meadway Spares can help you buy and sell your used parts. Don't scrap car tyres either. If they can't be retreaded, they can be given a whole new lease of life as playground surfaces or even shoes and furniture.

10. Get Carbon Neutral Insurance

You can do your bit for the environment by taking out carbon neutral car insurance. I Buy Eco will offset your car's CO2 emissions by contributing to projects which save the equivalent CO2 elsewhere. Working with The Carbon Neutral Company - one of the world's leading carbon offset and climate consulting businesses – they put money into renewable energy such as wind or solar power, forestry projects and the promotion of energy efficiency.