It is scary to switch off the car engine when sitting at traffic lights. But that’s what I was advised to do this week. If I did that at those lights where I know it will take ages for them to change and adopted a few other tips from professional driving instructor Denise Shepherd, then she calculated I’d save £250 a year off my fuel bills.
Drive With Confidence tutor Denise is one of the people involved in bringing home to drivers not only ways to save money by saving fuel, but also how this helps the planet by cutting carbon emissions.
In Denise’s own vehicle, which has duel control; I drove round the same circuit of city roads, twice.
My first foray showed on the monitor on her dashboard that I’d consumed fuel at a rate of 43.4 miles per gallon. On the second round that has improved to 45.2 miles per gallon.
‘Slow down when approaching lights,’ was the main message from Denise who operates generally around the Falkirk, Cumbernauld, Airdrie areas.
This was a preview for those people who’ve signed up for a similar Fuel Efficient Driving (FED) experience tomorrow and Sunday (22 and 23 October 2011) at the Glasgow Science Centre.
Over the next two months teams of people with similar professional background to Denise, will be explaining this to individual drivers in a personal training session. Most sessions cost £40, but early birds can save some money on this too if they get one of the £12 sessions of 50 minutes.
Said Energy Saving Trust transport manager Ian Murdoch: ‘Fuel Efficient Driving not only leaves you with more cash in your pocket but also a smaller carbon footprint. I urge anyone living in Glasgow to pop along this weekend to Glasgow Science Centre to find out a bit more. For anyone who can’t make it, give us a ring and we can book you onto a Fuel Efficient Driver Training Session. It’s amazing how people can save fuel and money by adopting a slightly different driving technique.’
Sign up on Saturday or Sunday or contact Energy Saving Scotland advice centre on 0800 512 012 to book a session.
By approaching traffic lights more slowly you are in a lower gear and so saving fuel. It also means the traffic behind has to slow down too which is an unexpected safety bonus. Anticipating road conditions and other road users’ moves, allows you to drive more smoothly. Rather than last minute braking, decelerate smoothly by easing off on the accelerator as early as possible. This allows the car to decelerate using engine braking. With the car in gear and the accelerator released, a modern car uses virtually no fuel at all. This form of braking is also gentler on the car and its occupants.
The Energy Saving Scotland advice network aims to reach 250,000 people every year and can be contacted for free impartial advice on: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland
An SNP MSP has called for Glaswegians to use The Energy Saving Trust in order to claim the financial assistance they are due.
Bob Doris, List MSP for the city, insists he is not criticising what he he describes as a ‘exceptional service’, only that Glaswegians use it.
Scottish Government statistics show that 28,000 Scottish households have benefited with Energy Assistance Packages (EAP) in the first eight months of the service.
However, only 2,196 of these households receiving EAPs – a disproportionately low number – are from Glasgow.
Glasgow, Scotland’s poorest city, makes up approximately 12 % of the country’s population – and this service is aimed at the elderly and the needy – but just over 7% of the beneficiary of this scheme have been from Glasgow.
Speaking exclusively to Local News, Doris said: ‘There could be a number of reasons for the lower uptake of this service in Glasgow.
‘It’s something I’m looking into and I welcome the new publicity campaign which will help minimise the impact of the big freeze.’
And Doris’s calls have not fallen on deaf ears.
A spokesperson for The Energy Savings Trust explained that a national campaign advertising the assistance will kick off tomorrow.
And while the phones have being ringing red hot they are urging people to get in contact to see if they are eligible.
The service is now available weekdays from 9am until 7pm and on Saturday between 9am and 1pm.
Since the cold snap started, calls to the helpline have doubled to nearly 1000 a day, with enquiries tripling to 1,500 a day over the last few days.
Temperatures are set to drop as low as -20C by this weekend.
The Energy Assistance Package offers instant energy saving information over the phone. The number is 0800 512 012 .
Doris added: ‘I welcome the new publicity campaign which will help minimise the impact of the big freeze.’
Meanwhile, at First Minsters Questions at Holyrood, Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray criticised the Scottish Government’s slow response to the cold weather.
Gray took a swipe at Finance Secretary John Swinney’s reported comments where he described the walking conditions ‘perfectly adequate’ across Scotland.
First Minister Alex Salmond responded by saying that Iain Gray should rise to the occasion of being in opposition and try to stop deflecting attention away from Labour’s leadership crisis in Westminster.