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Get your green on and go eco-driving

(NC) Eco-driving, a concept that has been extensively researched in Europe, is actively supported by Canada as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For those who adopt it, eco-driving has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 25 per cent. With more than 20 million vehicles on the road in Canada, that represents billions of litres of fuel that could be saved annually.

So what exactly is eco-driving? Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency boils it down into five simple steps:

Accelerate gently. The harder you accelerate the more fuel you consume. In the city, you can conserve fuel by easing onto the accelerator pedal gently and gradually. Pretend there's an egg under the gas pedal and an open cup of coffee on the dash. Try to drive without breaking the shell or spilling the coffee and you'll be good to go.

Maintain a steady speed. Be consistent. Unintentional dips in speed and sudden bursts of acceleration take a toll on your tank and your wallet. In fact, tests show that varying your speed up and down between 75 km/h and 85km/h every 18 seconds can increase your fuel use by 20 per cent. Use cruise control whenever possible.

Anticipate traffic. Read the road ahead, anticipate road disruptions, monitor the movements of pedestrians and other vehicles and keep a comfortable distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Coast to decelerate. Coasting to a stop with your foot off the gas pedal is like driving for free. By anticipating traffic slowdowns as early as possible, you can decrease your speed, conserve fuel and save money by simply taking your foot off the accelerator. Today, most vehicles are equipped with fuel-injection systems that automatically shut off the flow of fuel to the engine when the accelerator is fully released.  

Avoid high speeds. Even if you have a need for speed, slow down. Most cars, vans, SUVs and pickup trucks operate most fuel efficiently when travelling between 50 and 80 km/h. Anything above this optimal speed zone and vehicles consume increasingly more fuel the faster they go. For example, if it takes $10 worth of fuel to drive a certain distance at 100 km/h, it would cost $12 to travel that same distance at 120 km/h. That's like throwing a toonie out the window every 100 km.

You can learn more about fuel efficiency and eco-driving at www.vehicles.nrcan.gc.ca.

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