South Africans will have to avoid Sunday trips to enjoy the warmer weather in September with this month’s fuel price increase. Petrol is set to increase by R1.71 per litre while diesel will soar by R2.84 per litre. While Sunday trips can be put on hold, how much can drivers realistically limit their time behind the wheel?
Certain commitments like daily commutes, delivery schedules or even dropping the kids at school simply cannot be avoided. The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, suggests an alternative approach: “There are certain driving behaviours, activities in the vehicle and maintenance requirements that can have a significant impact on your fuel usage.
“Below are the activities that consume the greatest amount of fuel. The good news is that fortunately these behaviours can either be avoided or reduced in most instances. Thus, rather than placing unrealistic expectations on how much you can reduce driving, decide if you might be increasing your consumption by participating in these top fuel consuming activities,” says Herbert.
Keeping your speed below 100km/hour can save as much as 20% on your fuel bill. Yet, as a nation with a penchant for speed, not many may be motivated to adjust their speed. Even if you are reluctant to drive below the speed limit at least avoid going over it. Research says as soon as you exceed 80km/h, consumption increases by approximately 10%.
The heavier a vehicle is, the harder the engine works and, consequently, more fuel is used. Estimates say that every extra 50kg of weight increases consumption by 2%. Additionally, overloading places more pressure on the tyres. The rolling resistance that results will also cause the engine to work harder and fuel consumption to increase.
This is a more complicated scenario. Driving with and without air-conditioning can both increase fuel consumption. Not using air-conditioning on hot days means you will likely have the window open, reducing aerodynamics and increasing fuel consumption. Using the air-con can use as much as 10% more fuel, particularly on shorter trips. Thus, deciding whether or not to use the air-con depends on the circumstances. It can only really be effective to keep it off if it is cool enough to keep the windows closed.
As the fuel price draws ever closer to the R25 per litre mark, saving fuel where you can is not a nice-to-do but rather an essential. “Driving less is always the best option to save the most fuel but when this is not possible, there are other options that will not only help reduce consumption but have safety benefits in at least two of these instances,” says Herbert.