A Local Focus – 2 Areas To Save Money Close To Home
Thanks for joining us on holiday, but now sadly it’s time to get back to reality. We get back from France and are immediately greeted with grey skies, tailgating saloons and roadworks. Welcome home indeed. Good job we still have most of the wine at least. Anyway, there’s one forward thinking solution; Let’s save up for the next holiday! Let’s have a local focus on everyday travel in our vehicles, and see what we can save along the way. I’m focusing on the two main sorts of everyday travel that I, and I’m sure most, are limited to at the moment:
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When I’m not on holiday in France (which I don’t do often enough for my liking), I’m completing a commute from London to Essex. It’s mostly based on A-roads and motorways. These are all well within the Focus’ script. It flows from bend to bend without much effort. Like most, it has no trouble sitting at 70 on the motorway (and never any faster). The brakes are not so grabby that they catch you out. Near where I live there are plenty of speed humps and width restrictions. Surprisingly, not many supercars round here! The few that do turn up, can’t always handle the in-town agility of the ford. Or maybe it’s the drivers. London doesn’t provide many opportunities for going out for a nice local drive. But head North or West (or East or South), and suddenly the options are endless. Future posts may elaborate on this.
What I found interesting is that there were three potential routes I could choose to complete the journey. The shortest (36 miles) minimises motorways, with the longest (55 miles) almost entirely motorway based. The middle one is, sort of in the middle, at 44 miles. I appreciate that some may not have as long a commute as me, but some of my findings I feel are applicable across the board.
The issue of letting the engine warm up is an interesting one. Some think that we must leave the car stationary while the engine warms up before setting off. From experience, this doesn’t seem to be necessary anymore, as the engine will warm up anyway once moving. As long engine speed is not high until all parts are up to temperature, risk of damage is low. An engine running in a stationary vehicle is doing 0 mpg, which is obviously not great. This I feel will be most useful to those that have a shorter commute. The time the engine is on stationary (and warming up) is a high proportion of the total journey time. This confirms that shorter journeys are worse for fuel use and reliability.
The other main observation I had regards average speed, which goes back to the three routes I used for work. I found that the best compromise was the middle route. My mpg was highest with the longest route, but not by enough to offset the longer distance. The shortest route often had me caught up in traffic, which destroys fuel economy. If possible, we should use this, where possible, to determine how we get to and from the office.
Sitting between 55-65 mph seems to be the sweet spot for making progress and saving fuel. Those of us with longer commutes can aim for routes that allow for much travel at this speed. The car will thank you, but only by not breaking down. Don’t expect chocolates or anything. Although the money you save will enable you to become more familiar with Nestle products if you so wish. Other chocolates are available.
When we finally get to leave the office (great), it’s not long till we need to visit a shop. Besides the obvious fuel saving tip of keeping this to a minimum, there are a few other things we can do to keep our vehicles and accounts happy.
Firstly, and this may seem unusual, I would recommend not always going to the nearest hop if travelling by car. If the shop is too close, the engine won’t get a chance to warm up properly before the car is switched off again. This can cause expensive damage, more so than travelling a bit further and allowing components to warm up. The engine will likely still be fairly warm when we leave. This means that not as much fuel and energy will be required to start the car, which is better for enivironment and reliability. We just need to make sure that we don’t offset this gain by travelling TOO far for our shopping.
I sometimes leave the engine idling just enough to get things warm enough before turning off, but only if I haven’t travelled far enough. Not a hard and fast rule, just some tips that have worked for me over the years.
The other main takeaway is parking when we reach the shop. From a fuel point of view, it’s normally better to reverse into a space and then drive out when shopping has finished. I would argue that it’s also safer, as we less likely to reverse into a pedestrian. Which won’t be fun for either party. Saving Fuel and Saving Lives. Maybe this will catch on.
Just a couple of ways I think about saving fuel with a local focus. These are tips that have saved me fuel over the last few years. Hopefully, they can do the same for you. Feel free to join our family and comment if you have any of your own tips to share. Thanks for reading!