The lights are on and the engines are cold. Winter is on its way and with it, any hope of minimising our carbon footprint goes out of the window, right?
Well no, even with the necessary evils of heating and lighting, there are still ways to keep that annual spike in fuel consumption down.
1. Got a garage? Use it!
Research shows that because modern cars aren’t prone to rust, most drivers keep the car on the driveway, while their garages become a haven for spiders and unused bicycles. According to a study by Continental Tyres conducted in September 2012, fewer than one in three UK motorists with garages use them as intended, as a place to store the car.
Not only does this mean your poor motor will be stone cold in the morning and will therefore take longer to run efficiently, but you’ll use loads of nasty chemicals de-icing the windscreen each frosty morn. Yuck.
So tuck your car in a night. And if you can’t do that, then why not try a thermal blanket to comfort your little motor. We recommend you check out Halfords range of exterior available from £6.99, to save you time, numb fingers and smelly de-icer each morning (see here).
2. Warm up your engine by driving it, not idling it.
Frosting as it is know, where a car is left to idling while the exterior and interior warm up is not only dangerous (you risk losing your car altogether if you leave your car unattended while the engine is running) but is also a massive waste of fuel.
The easiest way to de-frost a car is to use a proper scraper and a de-icer spray. You must always stay with your car while the engine is running. There is really no need to leave the engine to running for the sake of warming it up, modern cars warm up quickly and you will soon find the interior is snug too, so once the windscreen is clear, you are ready to roll.
Thankfully, many modern cars now include improved demisting systems to quickly clear the windscreen. Ford’s QuickClear system, where the windscreen itself is fitting with an internal heating element, is particularly good.
3. Walk those short journeys and wrap up warm
It is cold, dark and wet, but it won’t kill you. Put on some extra layers and get out there. You’ll soon warm up once you are moving and who knows, maybe you’ll even enjoy that brisk walk to the corner shop on a crisp morning.
By getting moving, you’ll avoid adding those extra winter pounds and when you do get home or back to the car, you won’t feel it necessary to crack up the heating quite so high-saving you lbs and £s.
4. Consider fitting winter tyres
These little babies are safer in winter but also improve handling and road holding at temperatures below 7c. It might not make much difference to fuel consumption but will give you peace of mind during those more tricky winter trips.
5. Keep it well-serviced
Getting your car serviced just before winter is a good idea. Ensure you monitor your oil, coolant and brake fluid levels and that your battery has enough charge. Your coolant reservoir should consist of a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze.
Ensure you’ve topped up your windscreen wash too, to keep your windscreen clear during these murky, dark months. If you do a lot of short journeys then it might be an idea to invest in a battery charger to reduce the power-sapping strain. We recommend you check out the battery chargers available from the AA shop (http://shop.theaa.com/store/other/ctek-battery-charger).
Faye has been writing about cars and environmental issues since 2007. A suspected eco-warrior working on the corporate inside, Faye mainly likes the weird, quirky vehicles that show a distinct environmental advantage. Her ideal car has enough room to fit a bale of hay in the boot. When not working, she likes nothing better than to head out on her bicycle and explore the countryside.
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