If you’re a van owner – it’s time to go green. Emissions, greenhouse gases, car tax and eco-friendly cars continue to be hot topics. So it’s only a matter of time before attention is focused on you and your load-lugger.
But, as we have found out, it’s not as time consuming or expensive as you may think to turn your white van green.
How green is your van?
Modern vans are considerably more fuel efficient than before. They have all the high-tech features you’d expect to see on any flash new cars, all with the intention of cutting emissions.
But if the cash won’t stretch to a new van, don’t worry. How you use your current van is just as important when it comes to cutting emissions and fuel consumption.
What type of van do you need?
Are you a handy man with lots of tools or a rockstar with guitars and amps?
Identify your van needs, consider the maximum weight and volume of your loads, then choose the smallest van with the smallest engine possible that will perform the role. This is the biggest step towards lower fuel consumption and emissions.
Motorway vs city streets
If you spend the majority of your time on the motorway, you’ll want a large, low-stressed diesel engine with an overdrive top gear for maximum efficiency.
If work takes you around town, opt for the smaller version – the smaller the engine, the smaller the fuel bill.
Choosing the right specification is crucial too.
Luxuries like air conditioning are nice, but they zap power.
There’s also clever new technology to choose from. Firms like Mercedes-Benz are offering stop-start systems which automatically turn off the engine when stationary. This can shave more than three percent off your overall fuel consumption.
Volkswagen is also introducing a Caddy model which can run on CNG (compressed natural gas), offering a reduction of more than 50 per cent in exhaust emissions and the promise of fuel that’s half the price of diesel.
Tip: Sat navs are a real time saver – they can find the most efficient route to your destination and stop you getting lost – sometimes!
Top 5 tips for drivers
Old or new, it’s the way you use your van that has a greater influence on environmental impact.
By changing your habits, you’ll reap the ecological and financial benefits. Here is how…
As you might have guessed, pedal to the metal isn’t going to do you, or the planet, much good. The secrets to green driving are:
* maintaining a constant speed
Harsh acceleration or braking wastes fuel, so use your high driving position to your advantage.
If your van’s in top condition, you’ll save on fuel. Here are a few tricks to maximise efficiency:
Keep your van as empty as possible: carrying around unnecessary loads increases fuel consumption.
Check your tyre pressures every time you fill up. Under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by 3%, as well as wearing out faster and being unsafe.
Check your air filter for leaves or dust. This can increase fuel consumption by 5% as the engine has to work harder.
On an older van, a squirt of fuel system cleaner will keep the injectors unclogged and avoid wasted fuel.
Lots of vans have external racks, ladders and other equipment strapped to the outside, but they add weight and reduce aerodynamic efficiency. Removing racks will lighten the load and cost you less at the fuel pump.
Get into gear
Selecting the right gear and changing up or down at the right time is crucial to saving fuel.
For many diesels, the optimum change-up point is around 2,000rpm. Any lower and the engine will labour and use unnecessary fuel; any higher and you could be going faster for the same fuel usage, if you’ve changed up already.
Kill your speed
Keep your speed down, especially on motorways and dual carriageways. Cut your speed from 70mph to 65mph and you could cut 10% off your consumption. Drop another 5mph and you could save another 10%.*