The price of fuel has increased by 42.5 to 51.6 percent in Bangladesh. This is the highest in 20 years. Kerosene and diesel prices increased by Tk34 per litre to Tk114. According to the Energy Division, octane increased 51.6 percent from Tk89 per litre to Tk135. This occurred at a time when the price of oil is declining on the global market. Friday’s Brent crude price was $95.50 per barrel. A few weeks ago, the price of a barrel was as high as $129.
So how do we reduce expenses?
Whatever makes your car engine work harder, it will increase fuel consumption. In Bangladeshi cities like Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet, most of our roads are packed with vehicles during morning to evening due to schools and offices. Today’s price hike of fuel is hitting hard on not just car and motorcycle owners. It is going to have long-term cost increases of essential items like food and services like public transport.
For those that want to continue driving on octane, especially for motorcyclists who do not have an alternate fuel choice, here are 7 tips for reducing fuel consumption:
- Maintain tire pressure and suspension health
Keeping tires inflated properly improves the efficiency of your vehicle, and therefore can improve your fuel consumption. It’s particularly important to make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as indicated in your owner’s manual. Underinflated tyres create more drag and make your engine work harder. Tyre pressures will vary depending on the load you are carrying: if you have four passengers and luggage then you will need your tyres inflated to the maximum recommended pressures. Every 1-psi drop in pressure, you can expect your gas mileage to lower by 0.4 percent. Incorrect inflation also wears out your tyres faster. Tires are expensive especially for newer cars and motorcycles with larger, lower profile tires.
- Accelerate gently
In traffic, rapid acceleration burns excess fuel. It takes more energy to move a car from rest that the energy needed to speed up while moving. A quick press on the accelerator causes modern car computers to provide extra fuel thinking the driver needs extra power. New cars are amazing at managing fuel if you are careful. This is the same case for motorbikes especially modern scooters that come equipped with automatic transmissions. Gentle acceleration is also less stress on you.
For those driving casually on weekends or heading out for road trips across Dhaka-Chittagong highway, keep your engine speed low. Keeping RPM low means your engine is turning less, which means it is burning less fuel. All modern cars except the Toyota Probox seem to have a tachometer to measure RPM or engine speed. Monitor, keep engine speeds low, and try to stick to the optimum average speed of 82 kmph or slightly less while on highways.
- Brake gently
If you see a traffic stop ahead, brake early and gently. If you accelerate to a traffic stop, you are just wasting fuel. In hybrids, the early braking also helps additionally charge your electric drive system. In modern cars and some bikes, a basic fuel cut-off is activated when braking, meaning very little fuel is used and that too only to keep engine on.
- Anticipate hills
For hilly areas like Chittagong, driving up hills drastically kills fuel economy. When you spot a hill coming try to accelerate a little before you reach it. Then reduce pressure on accelerator and let the momentum drive you upwards. This is the same for getting on a flyover ramp.
- Does cruise control help?
Cruise control only aids fuel economy when driving on a constant flat surface. While we have very few roads that offer this benefit such as Mawa highway, using it when you can will allow the car to gradually maintain a set speed on smooth highways. Speaking of speed, try to stay around and under 80kmph. Not only is it the optimum speed for most cars, it is also the enforced limit on many Bangladeshi highways (Dhaka-Sylhet’s N2 route) where police randomly decide to stand with a speed gun.
- Does the AC and heat use fuel?
Air conditioning does increases fuel consumption especially for older cars. Most cars before 2010 like older Premios, Allions, old Nissan Sunnys will show a big change in fuel consumption with AC on. This gets worse for short trips. While it is seemingly impossible to move about the city in this heat without aircon, reducing non-essential trips will go a long way to cut down on costs. Highway driving on the other hand benefits from using the AC. If you lower the window, the wind flowing through the car at higher speeds causes drag as if a parachute is blowing out the back. This makes the engine work harder and consumes fuel.
During winter, however short it is in Bangladesh, if you use the heater it costs you nothing. The heater basically takes the engine heat and transfers it to the passenger compartment.
- Lighten up
A lighter car or bike is always more efficient as the engine spends less energy moving the vehicle. For cars, keep the rear empty. Going on a diet and becoming thin seems to be a great idea now. It improves your health, reduces cost of clothing material you need and reduces fuel cost.
How about alternate fuel options?
CNG is the preferred cost saving option for most car users. But the downside is that the CNG degrades engine condition in the long run. The setups offered here do not accurately balance air and CNG mixture, causing engines to often run hot. In a tropical country like Bangladesh, CNG cars need regular maintenance of the cooling system. That means more frequent replacement of coolant which breaks down from use.
CNG is beneficial for those that run their cars a lot. Cost per kilometer actually pays off. For people who use cars infrequently, this is not a very cost saving option. LPG, Tk 57.91 per litre at retail, is a better option as it is very similar to petrol/octane and without any ill effects to the engine.