Want to Save Fuel? Your Driving Style Matters Most

By Martijn Horsman
June 24, 2022
Want to Save Fuel? Your Driving Style Matters Most

With rising petrol prices, you may be looking for ways to save fuel. We researched the easiest way to do this and now share our findings with you. As it turns out, changing your driving style is your best option.

It may be stating the obvious, but if you want to save fuel, it is best not to drive. And honestly, some car trips are avoidable: you can easily walk, bike or take public transport. But sometimes, you just need your car for your daily commute, travel to a remote place, or pick up an order.

So, the question is, how can you save fuel - or electricity for electric vehicles- on those unavoidable car trips? The short answer? Your driving style matters most: driving smoothly at an economical speed, shifting up as soon as possible, and turning off the engine when standing still.

Let’s explore how your driving style impacts fuel consumption and what an economical driving style looks like. If you are interested in some of the data behind this article, check this research.

You might use much more fuel than needed

Driving 130 km/h requires more fuel than driving 50 km/h, of course. But next to speed, many other factors determine how often you must visit the gas station. In short: your vehicle, the road you drive on, weather conditions, and, last but not least, you as a driver.

Primary Factors in Vehicle Energy Consumption

Road and traffic

A lot of fuel consumption depends on the road you take and the traffic. In good circumstances, traffic accounts for 15% of fuel consumption. When conditions are bad - traffic jams for instance - this may grow to 47%. But chances are you already avoid rush hours like the plague. And often, you just have to travel in the early mornings and late afternoons for your daily commute, so fuel-saving potential depends on your freedom of choice.


The same goes for weather conditions. If the temperature drops 10 degrees Celsius, your car needs almost 4% more fuel. And wet roads make it harder for your tyres to roll. So it is better - and more convenient - to drive in dry weather with moderate temperatures. But since you don’t control the weather, this is not your best fuel-saving option.

Your car

Over the last decades, technological developments and government regulations have made petrol cars much more economical. But there is not much to gain here anymore. Of course, replacing your 10-year-old SUV with a more modest, new one will have a considerable impact. But if you already drive a relatively new car that suits you, buying a new one will change little. One tip, though: keep your tyres properly inflated: hard tyres roll more easily, so you will need less fuel.

So, what about electric driving? You should go electric if you can afford it, but an electric vehicle still needs energy. So saving on the energy consumption of your electric car will still be welcome.


You, as the driver, are the last and most important factor in your car’s fuel consumption because it is mainly in your control. For reference, bad drivers use 25% more fuel than excellent ones. So changing your driving behaviour will be the fastest and easiest way to save energy.

Changing your driving behaviour: what you need to know

So what does this change in driving behaviour mean? We can quickly summarise it in four tips: slow down, shift up early, drive smoothly and turn off the engine when stationary. Not every change you make will have the same impact, by the way. Changing how you accelerate will have a much higher impact on fuel consumption than changing the way you decelerate (38% versus 8% of total possible savings).

Driving Style Elements

Slow down, and shift early (35%)

Limiting your speeding does save energy, but slower is not always better. Most modern petrol and diesel cars drive economically at speeds between 50 and 90 km/h. For electric vehicles, it’s between 40 and 60 km/h. But note: the economical speed rate only applies at a steady pace and an engine speed of around 2000 revolutions per minute. In short: shift up as soon as possible.

Drive smoothly (46%)

Moderated acceleration in the right gear (38%) and anticipated braking (8%) Do you love the engine roar when you are accelerating? You are enjoying a low-efficient engine! Instead, take it easy when accelerating, ensuring you shift up as soon as possible. Then, when approaching the next traffic light, let go of the gas pedal early and try to hit the brakes as little as possible.

Turn off your engine when stationary (19%)

Modern cars automatically turn off when the engine is idling. In other cases: if your engine is idling for more than half a minute, turn off the engine. The fuel required to restart the engine is less than the fuel consumed while idling.

Driving hybrid or electric? We have good news for you: your car is even more sensitive to driving behaviour than cars with a combustion engine - up to 50% for hybrid vehicles and 25% for electric cars! This is because hybrid and electric cars store and reuse the energy produced when you slow down, for example.

Driving smoothly: the benefits of a new habit

Maybe you are reading this, and you think: well, that’s easy, I can do that! And you can. Just note that, as with any habit, changing your driving style will take time and persistence. However, once you have acquired this habit, you have done an excellent thing for yourself, your wallet and the climate.

But it’s not just that: eco-driving also means safe driving. At a lower speed, accidents are less frequent and less harmful. In addition, smooth acceleration and deceleration will make you more predictable for other road users, which will add to safety.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy your economical ride. Your smooth ride will give you time to reflect on what to do with the money saved. Now we are mentioning it: what about compensating for the remaining climate impact of your car ride?


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Martijn Horsman

Martijn Horsman

Copywriter & Editor

Table Of Contents

You might use much more fuel than needed
Changing your driving behaviour: what you need to know
Driving smoothly: the benefits of a new habit

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