Hacks to cut your petrol bills
The cost-of-living crisis has led to rising prices and petrol bills are no exception. So, it is natural that we’re all looking for ways to cut our spending.
While it’s obvious that driving less will reduce your spending on fuel, you don’t need to ditch your car completely to cut consumption. Changing your driving habits can make substantial savings.
Reducing your petrol use also has environmental benefits, reducing carbon emissions and pollution. In fact, road transport is the most significant source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, accounting for approximately 90%.
An insight into fuel costs
Fuel prices are dependent on the wholesale cost of a barrel of oil, where retailers will increase their prices when this cost rises but may not always lower when the cost falls. Other factors that affect the price of fuel include;
- whether it has any bio content (usually ethanol in the UK)
- the delivery
- the oil supplier
- the cost of fuel duty and VAT
These prices are often a topic of conversation, with many drivers worrying when they rise and breathing a sigh of relief when they fall. In 2022 prices hit new heights, when unleaded cost an average of 165.06p and diesel cost an average of 178.13p.
Prices have since come down, however, to put these rising costs into perspective, prices at the beginning of September 2003 were 76.13p for petrol and 77.59p for diesel — increases of over 70% for both fuel types over a 20-year period.)
How to cut your fuel bills
With all the above in mind, it’s no surprise that drivers are looking for ways to reduce their spending. Discover how to cut your fuel bills below.
Use a fuel price comparison app
Want to find the cheapest fuel prices in your area? Well, there’s a tool for that. In fact, there’s a range of free tools you can use to compare fuel prices, with filters for things like fuel brands and distance to you.
Use fuel from supermarket forecourts
Generally, fuel from supermarket forecourts is likely to be cheaper than branded fuel. This is because supermarkets are competitive with each other, and this reflects in their prices. In contrast, most branded fuel is found at motorway service stations, where drivers have no choice but to fill up there and then. So do try to fill your tank before setting off on a long journey.
There’s a theory that supermarket fuel is of lesser quality than branded fuel, however, since 2021, any unleaded fuel sold in the UK has had to conform to British standard E10, which means it contains up to 10% renewable ethanol. Similarly, any diesel fuel sold in the UK has to comply with BS EN590 and must undergo tests in a laboratory to check it meets the appropriate standards.
Lighten the load
The heavier your car, the more fuel it will use while driving, so clear the boot of anything that isn’t essential. Removing any roof rack or roof box will also reduce wind resistance and fuel consumption.
Driving at high speeds and making sudden moves requires more power and can rapidly drain your fuel. Stick to the appropriate speed limit for the type of road you’re on, and try avoid any unnecessary acceleration or braking.
You should also shift up your gears when driving, as low gears and high revs will increase your fuel consumption. Aim to change up a gear early when pulling away or accelerating. Some manual cars will indicate when you need to change up, so keep an eye out for this and follow the instructions to maintain optimal fuel efficiency.
Keep the pressure on
Your tyre pressure is determined by the amount of air that’s been pumped into the tyre. The right tyre pressure varies depending on the vehicle — find the recommended tyre pressure for your car in the owner’s manual.
If your tyre pressure isn’t right, it will not only push up your petrol costs but also affect how your car brakes, how it takes corners, and how long your tyres last.
Get your steps in
If your destination is in walking distance, then take a walk there instead. Driving at slow speeds over short distances is the most inefficient way to use your car, as the engine must work harder when you first start it. If you can only make your journey by car, you can minimise the effects by driving at a steady speed and avoiding harsh acceleration and braking.
Switch your car
When replacing your car, consider switching to a hybrid (PHEV) or electric vehicle (EV). EVs are powered by a rechargeable battery and don’t need any fuel at all, while PHEVs have a battery and an internal combustion engine (ICE). They can rely solely on the battery for up to 30 miles, after which the ICE takes over. PHEVs must be charged regularly to run efficiently.
The purchase cost may be steeper, but you will save on your fuel bills, in addition to any vehicle tax savings and environmental benefits. EVs are exempt from road tax, while PHEV owners will need to pay it (but it’s a lot less than it would be for a petrol or diesel car).
3 things to do right now
- Pay less for petrol by finding the cheapest places to refuel via fuel comparison tools.
- Prep your car to use less fuel. Check your tyre pressure, clear the boot, remove roof racks or boxes.
- Change your driving habits to cut fuel consumption such as walking for short journeys or driving in a smoother way without braking or accelerating too much.
Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert
Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.
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