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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Tasmanian Climate Change Office

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Reducing emissions from transport and travel

Most Australian households spend as much on transport fuel as they do on electricity or gas for their home. Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector were 1.71 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013-14, which was the equal largest contributing sub-sector of Tasmania's total emissions. Transport-related greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 8 per cent since the baseline of 1989-90.

By driving your car more efficiently and choosing, when practical, to use other modes of transport, you can cut your personal emissions and save money.

Take a walk or ride a bike

Walking or riding to work or the shops, even once a week, can reduce your carbon footprint and save money on petrol.

These active forms of transport are also good for your health. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, as well as reducing depression. Encouraging children to walk or ride to school can contribute to a healthy and active lifestyle as they grow older. You can learn more in the Tasmanian Walking and Cycling for Active Transport Strategy.

Public transport

Buses can be a great way to manage the daily commute. Instead of battling traffic, you can read a book or chat with a co-worker or friend as you travel from A to B. Encourage your children to travel to school by bus;  they will appreciate the independence and form sustainable travel habits for later in life.

Driving smarter

How you drive your car affects its fuel consumption and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces. Abrupt acceleration and braking can use up to 30 per cent more fuel. Changing gears sooner, at a lower revolutions per minute, can also reduce your fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent.

Regardless of the type of car you own, driving it more efficiently will not only help improve fuel economy, but will reduce wear and tear and save you money.

Sustainable Living Tasmania has developed a short Eco Driving video explaining how to make your car journey safer and cheaper, whilst also reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.

10 tips for more efficient driving

  1. Drive smoothly
    Look beyond the car directly ahead to anticipate the traffic flow. This will help you avoid sudden acceleration or braking, saving fuel and giving your passengers a smoother ride.
  2. Avoid speeding
    Speeding is not only dangerous, but also burns more fuel. The faster your car travels, the more wind resistance it encounters and therefore the more fuel it needs to maintain its speed. Travelling on a highway at 110km/h can use up to twenty-five per cent more fuel than at 90km/h. You should always observe the official road speed limits.
  3. Use higher gears
    By changing gears earlier, you can keep the engine below 2,500 revolutions per minute and improve fuel efficiency. If you drive an automatic, ease off the accelerator when the car gathers momentum, and your gears will change up more quickly and smoothly.
  4. Conserve momentum
    Looking ahead can save you fuel. For example, slow down earlier to let red traffic lights change to green as you reach them, rather than stopping your vehicle completely. Also, speed up a little before reaching the start of a hill and then allow the additional momentum to help carry your vehicle up the hill without working the engine harder.
  5. Travel lighter
    Check your car regularly for extra weight. Empty the boot of unnecessary items and remove the roof racks or travel pods when not in use. This will help reduce drag on your car. For every extra 45kg carried in a vehicle, fuel efficiency can drop by two per cent.
  6. Use the air conditioner sparingly
    Use the air conditioner only when needed as it puts added demand on the engine and uses additional fuel. However, at speeds over 50 km/h, having your windows down can cause drag so, in that instance, using the air conditioner may be more efficient. On milder days use the fan instead of the air conditioner. Keep your air conditioner in good repair as leaks can release greenhouse gases.
  7. Keep your car well serviced and maintained
    A well-tuned engine can improve the fuel efficiency of your car by up to four per cent. Have your car serviced regularly and check your oil, coolant, brake fluid, and battery every fortnight. Check your tyre pressure when filling up with fuel as correctly inflated tyres are safer, last longer and reduce the amount of energy required to keep the vehicle rolling. A tyre that is under-inflated by one psi (pound per square inch) can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as three per cent. Inspect your tyres for uneven wear, as this may mean your wheels are incorrectly aligned, which increases fuel consumption.
  8. Check the air filter
    The air filter keeps impurities from damaging your engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve fuel economy by as much as ten per cent and also help protect your engine.
  9. Use the right fuel
    Use the petrol that is recommended for your vehicle by the manufacturer. Only fill your petrol tank to the first click of the fuel pump. Any overfill will be lost in over-flow and evaporation.
  10. Plan the use of your car
    Plan your vehicle use, and whenever you can, combine multiple errands into a single trip. If possible, avoid travelling during peak times and through areas of heavy traffic. That way you'll spend less time stuck in queues and slow-moving traffic and consume less fuel.

Choosing your vehicle

Fuel economy and running costs vary significantly between different vehicles. Choose the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your everyday needs. It is cheaper to rent a bigger car for those few occasions when you need it, than to run it all year. Hybrid cars and electric vehicles are also becoming cheaper and more readily available. You can read more about electric cars, including how they work and what it’s like to own one, on the Australian Electric Vehicle Association website.

You can find the greenhouse rating (based on the level of carbon dioxide emissions) of vehicles sold in Australia at the Green Vehicle Guide.

Giving friends or co-workers a lift

Car-pooling with colleagues or neighbours saves fuel and money, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. More people travelling together in one car will reduce the number of vehicles on the road which may ease congestion and result in more efficient commuting. It’s also a good chance to catch up on the latest news!

Buying locally

Buying locally-made products not only supports the local economy but also reduces the emissions generated by transporting goods from where they are produced to where they are consumed. However, choosing greenhouse-friendly products, regardless of where they are produced, will always be the best option, as the emissions generated in production far outweigh their transportation footprint.

More tips for your home: