Take it easy behind the wheel, save £500 a year

Economic driving is all about mind over matter, according to The AA. Want to save money? Change the way you think and you'll change the way you drive.

UK motorists could save up to £7.7 billion per year on fuel by learning to drive in a more efficient manner, which might mean we can afford to eat once in a while, too. The research by the AA has been released at the start of the Miles Per Gallon Marathon, where the winning car is not the fastest, but the most economic.

Everything, from the mood you're in to the shoes you wear affects the fuel economy of your motor, according to AA instructor John Pollock, suggesting we "think about safety, think about smoothness in our driving and economy will slot in very nicely."

For a family with two vehicles running on petrol, achieving an average of 30 miles per gallon and travelling 10,000 miles each year, a fuel saving of between £333 and £500 per annum could be made.

These are The AA's suggested ways to save fuel, and our rating out of 10 for usefulness:

  • Aggressive driving will increase the wear on tyres, which will in turn lead to higher fuel consumption. Driving within the speed limit and with a level head will not help you preserve your tyres but is safer for yourself and other road users too (5/10 - aggressive driving? Well if it wasn't for all those bastards on the roads... oh alright. Easier said than done, that one.)
  • Air-conditioning will drain power from the car and therefore lead to increased fuel usage. If you can avoid using it, leave it turned off (7/10 - to be honest, once you're off and running, there's usually no need for anything more than sporadic bursts of air-condition. Except...)
  • Having the window open increases drag and therefore decreases your fuel economy. Providing it's not the middle of summer, you'll save the pennies by leaving them closed (5/10 - so no air-condition and no open windows? This is how dogs die. But again, most of us can manage without having them open all the time.)
  • Change gear as soon as possible to avoid labouring the engine. Using a higher gear will mean the engine operates at less revolutions per minute (rpm), which can make a difference to fuel consumption (10/10 - there's no real excuse to drive along the M1 in third, now is there?)

For more of a zen-style approach to fuel economy, watch John Pollock teach BBC reporter Tom Symonds how to be at one with the road.

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