Low carbon Christmas

Summer is finally upon us and with Christmas and the New Year just around the corner, many of us are planning trips away from home.

With this in mind, Union Climate Action and the PSA eco-rep network have some tips for reducing your fuel consumption and your impact on the planet (not to mention your wallet) these holidays.

Did you know?

NZ is second only to the US in car ownership per capita and the number of kilometres travelled in these cars.

Only 2.5% of all trips in NZ make use of public transport.

Road transport accounts for 37% of New Zealand’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions (17% of total greenhouse gas emissions). Half of this is from private cars.

Good maintenance and driving can shave 20-30% off fuel use.

If we all cut our fuel use by 20%, NZ would save over 628 million litres of fuel per year – equivalent to taking 500,000 cars off the roads.

Consider walking, cycling, or taking public transport before getting into your car.

If you need to use a car, carpool where you can and plan your journey carefully. A well-planned journey gets you to your destination in the quickest and easiest way - which means less fuel and time wasted.

Reduce your car usage when you reach your destination. Short trips have a significant impact on fuel efficiency (you use 20% more fuel when your engine is cold). Walking and cycling are great ways to explore a new destination.

Pick up BBQ supplies on the way back from an outing rather than taking the car out again later.

You can boost the overall fuel-efficiency of your car as much as 30% through simple vehicle maintenance and attention to your style of driving. Here are some tips on fuel-efficient driving that will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, but could save you hundreds of dollars a year in fuel costs.

If it's too low, your car has to work harder to overcome the extra resistance - and it can impact on the way the car handles and brakes. Re-check your tyre pressure every month.

Maintain a steady speed; use the highest gear possible without straining the engine. If you drive an automatic, choose ‘economy’ gear switching to keep the engine speed down. Speed up, slow down and brake gently and smoothly, provided it is safe to do so.

Driving fast not only increases the risk of accidents, but increases fuel costs too. Fuel consumption increases significantly over about 90km/h. At 100km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at 90km/h.

Check what's happening ahead so you can adjust your speed early, and maintain a safe following distance. It's better for your fuel economy to slow down early rather than brake too late.

Change at around 2,000 to 2,500 rpm. If you drive an automatic, allow the transmission to change up early by accelerating gently on a light throttle.

If you're going to be stationary for more than 30 seconds, switch off your engine. Steer clear of peak traffic, and don't turn on your engine until you're ready to drive.

A well-maintained car uses less fuel. Regular servicing including replacing oil and air filters as required, the right tyres for the conditions and proper wheel alignment can make a big difference.

Carrying unnecessary weight in the vehicle increases fuel consumption by around two percent for every 50 kg. Remove your luggage from the car when you arrive at your destination, and remove the roof or cycle rack if you don’t need it.

Air conditioning can add up to 10% to your fuel bill, so only use it when you really need it. Other features like the rear window demist can also be a drain, so switch them off when they've done their job.

Windows down is an alternative to air con, but open windows at speed create so much drag they waste even more energy.