The EST estimates that if half the light goods vehicle drivers in the UK lightened their loads by 75kg – equivalent to three bags of cement or an empty industrial gas cylinder – it would save around £50m on fuel each year.
This would result in 100,000 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – enough to fill around 24 million red telephone boxes.
The figures are based on new research carried out by Cenex – a Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies – on behalf of the Energy Saving Trust, which for the first time models the impact of weight on fuel consumption using real-world driving conditions.
The research compared empty and fully loaded LGVs on typical urban and rural driving routes, which more accurately represent realistic driving conditions.
Under urban driving conditions the research found that a typical car-derived van, such as a Volkswagen Caddy, will use around 26% less fuel when empty compared to when fully loaded.
And for panel vans such as the Peugeot Boxer, the difference in fuel consumption was up to 33%.
Energy Saving Trust senior knowledge manager Tim Anderson said: ‘Drivers often treat commercial vans as mobile store rooms for rarely needed equipment or parts, reducing the vehicle’s fuel economy. In addition, items such as unused roof racks add to air resistance, which increases fuel consumption.
‘Reducing the amount of additional weight in a vehicle will not only improve their fuel economy but it may also reveal that they have more space than they need.
‘As a result, businesses could consider downsizing their fleets and opting for smaller, more economical vehicles which better suit their company needs.’