5. Get to know your car’s ‘eco mode’
If your car is reasonably new, it probably has an eco (or ‘economy’) mode. This helps you use less fuel or battery charge by altering the way some of your car’s internal systems work. The changes triggered by flicking the ‘eco’ switch will depend on the car and manufacturer but you could generally expect acceleration to feel slower and any air conditioning may reduce its output. You may also find, particularly in automatic petrol and diesel cars, that you shift to higher gears sooner.
Part of the fuel-saving technology fitted to petrol and diesel cars is so-called ‘stop/start’. This will help you to save a little more fuel, particularly around town, if you leave the stop/start mode switched on.
6. Learn to love regenerative braking if you drive an EV
Electric cars use regenerative braking to help you get more miles from your battery. When you take your foot off the accelerator to slow the car down, the electric motor acts as a generator, returning electrical energy to the battery and slowing you down in the process.
If you’re new to EVs, it can take a little time to get used to regenerative braking as you may find your car slows down more quickly than in a petrol or diesel version. It’s a more pronounced slowing than that achieved if you change down a gear to help you slow down, but similar in feel. The energy you are able to recover through regenerative braking could be more than 10% and depends on factors such as driving conditions, the level of regenerative braking and where you’re driving e.g. in a hilly area or flat city suburb.
Most electric cars let you set a level of regenerative braking when you’re behind the wheel. This way, you can become more comfortable with how it works. Start off with the lowest setting and then adjust it as you adapt. You should be able to recoup more energy the higher you set the ‘regen’ and, as a bonus, it will save a little brake wear too.
However, if you are driving at higher speeds on dual carriageways or motorways it may be best to reduce the regenerative braking strength. This is so that any relaxation on the accelerator doesn’t result in you inadvertently slowing down more than anticipated, and then having to accelerate again.
7. Go easy on the aircon (when you can)
If you drive a petrol or diesel car, turning on the air con burns fuel. With an EV, using the heater to keep the car toasty on a cold day can similarly drain your battery’s charge. Many EVs now include heating features for seats (and even steering wheels) which could be more efficient. Most EVs, however, can be heated up in winter or cooled down in summer while plugged in for a charge. This means that the heater and air conditioning doesn’t have to work so hard when you get in to drive which will use less battery energy. Plus, you could climb into a toasty car with de-iced and de misted windows in winter (or get into a fresh cool vehicle in summer) all at the touch of an app from the comfort of your home.
Dressing for the weather could also help you save energy. For example, where feasible on warmer days, this might be as easy as ditching jumpers and winding windows down.