You don’t have to do anything drastic to save a decent amount of cash on petrol. In fact, with just a small change in your driving habits you could not only save money at the pump, but also reduce your impact on the environment.

To put this theory to the test, we put two drivers through their paces. They’re Penny and Laura, both mums who regularly ferry their kids around.

Neither driver had previously given much thought to driving more economically. Before setting out on the road, Penny, a blogger on the Parent Shaped site, said: “If there’s something I could do to work on my driving to make it more efficient and better for the planet, then that’s brilliant. I’d like to be more mindful in my driving, more efficient and economical.”

Our two guinea pigs were accompanied by a fuel efficiency expert, Steve Cocks from The Blue Lamp Trust, a community safety organisation in Hampshire. First he took them each out for a spin to see how they normally drive. And then they repeated the route following Steve’s tips and advice on how to use as little fuel as possible.

Laura takes the fuel efficiency test

Laura takes the fuel efficiency test

Steve gave some simple advice: “The secret is to keep energy in the car. Once you’ve got the car rolling, try and maintain energy. See if you can cut down on the number of times that we stop.” And on approaching a roundabout, he said: “Come in slower to have more time to look at the roundabout while we’re still moving.”

How much can fuel efficiency save Penny?

How much can fuel efficiency save Penny?

Thanks to his guidance, both drivers were able to make big money-saving improvements.

Laura, blogger at Dear Bear and Beany, managed to improve her miles per gallon (mpg) from 35.8 on her first drive to 39.3 on a second trip out, an improvement which could lead to a fuel saving of about £120 each year. “That would be the children’s Christmas presents paid for, I’m very happy with that!” she said.

Penny’s improvement was even greater, going from 30.5mpg to 37mpg, for a potential saving of a whopping £330 on fuel each year. Or enough to pay for a weekend away, Penny suggested, adding: “I was quite stunned that I could improve my driving by 20%. If we could all do that, what a difference we could make. You’re doing your bit for the environment, you’re doing your bit for your purse, but actually it’s quite an enjoyable way to drive.”

She added: “It was an absolute game changer. It really made me think about my driving. It was much more fluid. I felt much safer. I felt really in control.”

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Why not try it yourself - see our guide to fuel efficient driving here. Steve says: “If we’re not using so much fuel then we’re not using as many emissions out the back of the car. We’re not using the tyres as quickly, the brake pads as quickly. Everything on the vehicle is being used in a more efficient way.”

To read more about driving, your car and road safety go to Solved.