By Ndem Nkem
No doubt, fuel prices in Nigeria have steadily been climbing since the introduction of automobile vehicles, however, with the current increment to a national average of NGN 145 per litre, the fuel scarcity is on another level and there is a need to find ways to save money.
Despite the ongoing kobo-pinching trend, you cannot stop driving: you depend on your vehicle to get to work, pick up the kids, and maybe attend those mandatory anger management classes. This means you have to change a few bad habits and increase your personal fuel efficiency in order to save money at the pump.
Here are six simple ways to save money on fuel, making things easier on your pocketbook as well as the environment.
With the situation of the country at the moment, the fuel economy is directly proportionate to how hard you accelerate and how steady you are on the gas pedal. Try not to drive too aggressively or too carelessly, and also, observe speed limits. Driving aggressively can lower gas mileage on the highway and aside from that, it can attract law enforcement agents and you will have to waste fuel while trying to explain your way out of their grip. Again, while each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed, it is important that you try not to drive above 50 mph as with almost every vehicle, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph.
Only carry light load
Another easy way to improve your car’s fuel efficiency and save yourself some extra bucks is to make the load on the vehicle as light as possible. Basically, the less you pack, the lighter your load, the more you save! Loaded roof racks and other exterior means of storage negatively impact your gas gauge by up to five percent. So, if you have junk in the trunk it may be time to clean out the car and take out whatever you don’t need. Believe it or not, your car needs more fuel to move around more weight.
Use the AC Efficiently
The weather condition in the country is generally hot and with the added noise/air pollution in some busy areas, as well as the stop-and-go traffic, it is just convenient to run your car’s air conditioner all through the day. The Society of Automotive Engineers , however, conducted several tests which determined that you lose up to 10% more fuel driving with the AC on and your windows up, therefore, it may be best to think of alternative ways to stay cool this season as cranking up the AC will put a dent in your fuel budget. If you cannot roll down the windows and let in natural breeze complement your driving, go ahead and use the AC, however, ensure you turn it off when it’s not hot. You can also drive during the cooler parts of the day to cut out the need for the AC.
Nigerians love to warm up their car! Agreed, at one time, engines needed to sit idle for five to ten minutes before they could be trusted to offer reliable transportation but gone are those days. The way car engines are fashioned today, you can now just turn the key, put it in drive, and drive out, despite the weather condition. Warming your car up for as little as two minutes consumes as much fuel as you would use driving a mile. Not warming up your car ensures that you save the money on the fuel that would be wasted doing so.
Look out for filling stations with accurate meters
This is a big issue with filling stations in Nigeria. While the government has given sanctions and implemented strategies to combat this issue, there is a lot of station guilty of the charge. Most of the pumps and meters are doctored to ensure that what you are buying for the price of 1 Litre is way less than 1 Litre, even though the Metre reads 1 Litre. Put your ear to the ground and find out the different areas around your location with accurate pumps and go there, that way you do not have pay any more than you should.
Avoid excess idling
There is no room for undue gallivanting with your car anymore or letting it sit idle for periods of time .You need to make a plan on where you are going to, research the shortest cut to take and get your act together before you set out (especially if you are going out with a group). If you are going shopping, trying running through your checklist before you turn on the engine and if you must take a call or sit in your car for more than a few minutes, it is more fuel efficient to park in one corner, turn your car off, and then restart it when you are good to go. Allowing your car to sit idle for some time ensure you waste fuel money.
Ndem Nkem is Travel/Tech Writer at Jovago Nigeria, Africa’s No.1 online hotel booking portal .