Forecourt prices are hitting the headlines and many of us are contemplating what we can do to cut our travel cost. Our driving habits have more than a financial cost, they also affect our local air quality, noise pollution and at 49% (13% above the UK average), road transport is the largest contributor to carbon emissions in the Harrogate District.
So what can each of us do? Firstly, remember “every little helps”.
The obvious solution to curbing just one of the many dents to your monthly budget is to just drive less. If and when you can, walk, cycle, car share or take public transport, even if only for part of your journey. Nearly half of car journeys in the Harrogate area are 2.6km or less.
By signing up to the Harrogate Car Share scheme you can search for any journeys you want to share, either as a driver or a passenger. This can be anything from your daily commute to a one-off trip. And you do not have to own a car to sign up: you can simply search for a lift if that is what you need. www.liftshare.com
Co-Wheels operates a car club in Harrogate for those who need a car from time to time, but don’t want the cost of owning one (or having to pay for a second car for occasional use). They offer electric and hybrid vehicles and cover insurance, cleaning, servicing and refuelling. Simply become a member and then book a vehicle when you need it. www.co-wheels.org.uk/harrogate
One company benefit many of us are yet to take advantage of is the Cycle to Work scheme - where you can purchase a bike and accessories tax efficiently through a salary sacrifice scheme. Businesses can do more to publicise these and other options, like Car Free Fridays, to employees and offer incentives for reducing rush hour congestion.
Zero Carbon Harrogate’s next monthly ‘Walk to School’ day is 1st July. On this day, primary and secondary schools across the district ask families to ditch their cars and walk or cycle to school. Those that live far away ‘park and stride’ the last mile.
For evenings out, The Harrogate Bus Company has extended its ‘£1 after 7pm’ fare deal to 31st August and for your groceries, Sainsbury’s Wetherby road runs a free shuttle bus (see www.connexionsbuses.com for a timetable).
When you have to drive, simple changes in driving habits can drastically increase fuel economy and extend battery range for electric vehicles. Going easy on the accelerator, avoiding hard or sudden stops and other simple changes in driving behaviours can lead to fuel economy gains that quickly add up. Depending on the type of car and its size, the RAC says driving at 45-50mph is most efficient.
It takes an extra 10% fuel consumption to power a car's air conditioning, according to the AA, so think before use it. However, the air conditioner is generally better above 50mph because the faster you drive the greater the drag caused by open windows.
Energy saving tyres can save up to 440 litres of fuel over their lifetime as they reduce the resistance that the tyre comes across when making contact with the road. Check your tyre pressures regularly, especially before heading off on a long journey.
The heavier the car the more fuel it takes to move it, so leave behind anything you don't need for your journey.
Make one change - collectively the choices we make about every mile we travel can make an enormous difference.