How you can save on your fuel bill

cartoon image of petrol pumps

Petrol prices in the UK have risen to the highest they've been for 18 months.

They increased by three pence per litre in December, with unleaded petrol costing 117.2p per litre on average, and diesel hitting 119.6p.

This is mostly because the price of oil has jumped in the last few months.

With prices expected to carry on rising over the next two weeks, Newsbeat spoke to some experts on how to save money on your fuel bill.

Get to know your local area

A goose at a petrol pump
Image caption Get to know your local area - geese and all

"Everyone should get to know where the petrol stations are in their local area," says Rod Dennis from the RAC.

Knowing the places with generally lower prices will help you out, especially when your tank is running low and you need to get to a petrol station quickly.

"Make sure to look at independent forecourts as well as big supermarkets - they can sometimes offer competitive prices too."

But "avoid motorway service stations like the plague", according to Guy Anker from MoneySavingExpert.

Make sure to fill up before you go on a long journey, otherwise you could be caught paying 15p more per litre.

Prices in the Republic of Ireland can sometimes differ a lot from those in Northern Ireland - so some savvy drivers cross the border to take advantage when prices are lower in the Republic.

Two people on a bike going down a snowy road
Image caption There are obvious ways of avoiding fuel costs

Go to an area with lots of petrol stations

"More forecourts mean higher competition, which usually lead to lower prices," says Rod.

But he warns that if you live in the countryside where there are fewer petrol stations, it may be worth staying closer to home.

"It depends on the trade off," he says.

"If you have to drive a long way just to get a couple of pence off a litre, it may be more worthwhile - in terms of money and convenience - just to go to your local pump."

Take advantage of loyalty schemes and promotions

A woman filling up her car at the pump
Image caption Frequent drivers could save a lot

This can take a bit of shopping around, but is especially helpful if you frequently drive and have to fill up often.

"You can get a huge amount in cashback and vouchers," says Rod.

Many fuel companies offer points-based loyalty schemes which give you money off after you buy a certain amount of petrol, similar to a Nectar card.

"Usually, we think about filling up costing about £50 - but think about the savings over the whole year. It adds up."

Drive more efficiently

Queen Elizabeth II changing a tyre in World War 2
Image caption If the Queen knew about tyre pressure way back in World War 2, you probably should too

Once you've filled up, you can still save money by changing your driving habits.

"Don't be a Lewis Hamilton - brake gently and accelerate gently," says Guy from MoneySavingExpert.

Harsh braking and acceleration can be very inefficient for the engine, burning a lot of unnecessary fuel.

Guy also recommends using less air conditioning, which he says can reduce costs by 10%, and removing any unnecessary weight from your car - so make sure you clear out your boot regularly.

And keeping your tyres well inflated reduces drag on the car and can lead to savings of up to 3%.

Watch out for false economy

A Jaguar car on a racetrack
Image caption It's probably best to save the premium petrol until you get that supercar

There are some things you should avoid if you want to save on petrol.

Often, forecourts will offer a "super unleaded" or "premium" option.

Rod from the RAC says that the premiums on these pumps aren't usually worth it.

"Unless you have a sports car or your manufacturer specifically recommends it, you car probably won't need the premium petrol.

"You're much better off following the other tips, which will have a bigger impact."

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