Australians are already starting to feel a little less pinch at the bowser, due to last week’s budget announcement that the fuel excise would be halved, but for many $2 a litre is still hitting hard.

Until September, the federal government will take 22.1 cents per litre – down from 44.2 cents – to help ease the burden caused by skyrocketing petrol prices in part due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

While prices have on average come down from $2.20/l to $2/l, that is still a significant pinch on many wallets.

Environmental experts Robin Smit and Nic Surawski, writing for The Conversation, say the best way to keep the burden at the bowser as low as possible is to switch to an electric vehicle.

But, for those unable to afford the switch, the experts have revealed five other ways to make your car go the extra mile.

Use a lighter, smaller car

While the obvious way to keep your petrol costs down is to switch to walking, riding a bike or using public transport, the next best way is to consider the car you are driving.

Mr Smit and Mr Surawski say the specific vehicle you use matters – the larger and heavier your car, the more energy and fuel it will require per kilometre.

“Choosing a smaller car, rather than a large SUV, will definitely reduce your bill,” they said.

“Research suggests that for every 100kg increase in vehicle weight, fuel consumption increases by five to seven per cent for a medium-sized car.”

Use eco-driving techniques

Eco-driving involves being conscious of your fuel consumption and taking actions to reduce it.

Mr Smit and Mr Surawski said to avoid excess braking and accelerating, as acceleration uses a lot of energy and fuel.

“Driving smoothly, anticipating traffic and preventing stops will lead to savings on your fuel bill,” they said.

“Flow with the traffic … Keep an eye further up the road.”

For those with a manual vehicle, they say to drive in the highest gear possible, while those in automatic vehicles that have an “eco setting” should use that.

Petrol Prices
There are a number of ways motorists can help stretch their tank of fuel further. Ian Currie. Credit: News Corp Australia

Give your engine and climate a break

Keeping “unnecessary” idling to a minim will help save between one to two litres of fuel per hour.

“Of course, we idle regularly while waiting in traffic and generally can’t do much about that, other than trying to drive outside peak hours,” Mr Smit and Mr Surawski said.

“In other cases, we can change things. For example, idling when a vehicle is parked will use up fuel unnecessarily.”

Turn off the AC

Using your air conditioner can account for between four and eight per cent of total fuel use.

Mr Smit and Mr Surawski say using the fan instead will use less energy than the air conditioner.

“Or even better, wind down the windows for a bit of fresh air when you are driving in the city,” they said.

Keep your tires in check

Keeping your tires inflated can save the average motorist between two and four per cent in fuel use.

Mr Smit and Mr Surawski say you should also consider aerodynamics, urging motorists to note that roof racks, bull bars and bike racks will come with an “additional fuel penalty – particularly at high speeds such as on the freeway”.

Extracted in full from: Fuel excise reduction helps save 22.1 cents litre, but experts say these tips can make petrol go further | The West Australian