(The figures in the following article were correct before the pandemic and the ‘energy crisis’.)


 In rural Ireland, transport is the item of expenditure that weights the most on household energy budget, accounting up to €2000 per year. Without any significant policy changes, it is forecast to remain so. Fortunately, there are some efficiency tips & tricks that can help you trim your fuel economy. And alternatives to the private car.

Tips to save vehicle fuel

  • Keep your tyres properly inflated
  • Avoid ‘jack rabbit’ starts and break slamming
  • Adopt a constant, smooth driving style, keeping stop-and-go to a minimum
  • Stick to the speed limit
  • Combine short trips into a longer one
  • Take unnecessary loads out of your car
  • Shift up to higher gears as soon as possible
  • Turn off the engine when the vehicle is stationary
  • Keep the car regularly serviced

When buying a new car, refer to this chart ranking the greenest cars on the market.

Personal transport alternatives

1. Public transport

Public transport is a more efficient means of transportation compared to using a personal vehicle, especially in population-dense areas. Rural areas lag behind, primarily for fleet scarcity, but also for an information gap. LocalLink connects many rural towns and villages accross Ireland. Plan your next journey here.

2. Cycling and micro-transports

There is not enough space in this article to give the long list of health and environmental benefits of going from A to B by bicycle. Just cycle your way to your next destination. And, if you live in an urban environment, consider folding bikes and scooters that will help you with your daily commute.

3. Car pooling

Car pooling is basically filling up your car with as many people as possible to abate the vehicle-per-journey ratio. Hitch-hiking is an informal version of car pooling, but most people prefer some structure and planning! In essence, it is just about matching supply and demand. Whether you are about to start a car journey and have empty seats or are looking for a lift, check Share your Ride, you might find precisely what you need.

irish women hitchhiking

4. Car sharing

Car sharing is a free-floating fleet of vehicles that nobody owns directly, but anyone can use. It works better where there is a high and concentrated demand for personal transport, like in urban areas. The most known car sharing service in Ireland is GoCar.

Bonus: working from home

The combined carbon emissions and pollution of millions of gas guzzling personal vehicles transporting people everyday to their workplace is outstanding. If your situation lets you, then consider working from home once or twice per week (continuing the trend started during the pandemic) and go to your workplace when you have meetings and need to work in a team. Discuss with your colleagues and boss about the benefits of closing the office once per week in terms of energy bills and productivity.

What about the electric car?

Full Electric Vehicles (EVs) are great because they do not emit local pollutants (NOx and SO2) that otherwise would plague our towns and cities, since there is no engine combustion. However, their carbon footprint depends on the source of their electricity mix.

If you recharge your electric car from the national grid, you are still using electricity generated with about 80% fossil fuels. The ideal is to combine an electric car and a stand-alone solar home system, until the national grid is fully decarbonized.


There are helpful e-tools to compare fuel economy of petrol, diesel and electric vehicles. Check this one made by SEAI. And this other really well made by Climobil, which also features the carbon footprint.