The 5p per litre planned fuel duty rise in April could possibly see the average cost of filling up hit £70 for the first time ever by Easter.
And with calls for the Chancellor to scrap the rise falling on deaf ears at the moment, all we can really do to make life easier is make our fuel stretch further. David Cameron currently refuses to promise to make good on the Conservative pre-election pledge for a fuel price stabiliser; fuel prices are only going one way and we will probably just have to deal with it.
Here are a few tips to help you do that, some of them from the AA's Eco-Driving Advice:
It's obvious, but driving like you're late for everything is the worst thing you can do in terms of fuel consumption. Driving conservatively means driving smoothly, using only as much accelerator pedal travel as needed and using the gears effectively. Stay in the power band of the car; don't assume that being in a higher gear automatically means fuel savings - you'll need more fuel to work the engine to speed from too low a rev range.
Ease off the brakes
Generally speaking, the more you're using your brakes, the more unnecessary acceleration you're probably doing. If it's possible to coast (going downhill for example) do so, and try to think two moves ahead. If you know a junction is coming, ease off the accelerator rather than zooming towards it and braking suddenly.
Neutral or not neutral?
There's conflicting advice on this. New cars use a small amount of fuel when coasting in neutral, but don't when off the accelerator in gear. However, there's less drivetrain friction (engine braking, for example) with the gears disengaged, meaning the car will travel further; BMW is currently developing a system for its automatic gearbox that coasts in neutral, for this very reason. Still, the AA advises never to coast out of gear, because you're in less control of the car.
Ditch the flab
Remove anything from your car that's not essential. It's basic stuff - more weight equals more effort for the engine, equals more fuel. Simple.
Go easy on the air conditioning
Another classic tip - and highly valid. Air conditioning saps fuel at a rate of up to ten percent in some cases, so if you don't need it, switch it off. Furthermore, anything that saps the battery will use fuel, because fuel is needed to recharge it. Don't have the radio on in the background if you're not actually listening to it, then. More importantly, don't leave the rear window demister on all of the time unnecessarily.
Don't be an idler
One of the great modern pieces of fuel saving technology is the stop-start system, but it's something you could just as easily do yourself. If you know you're going to be standing still for a while, switch the engine off.
Stick to the speed limits
Fuel use rises exponentially with speed, so you'll be using a heck of a lot more at 80mph than you would at 70mph. Aside from 80mph being illegal, it's no good for your consumption.
Tyre pressure is a big factor in worsened fuel economy; under-inflated tyres create more friction, making the engine work harder. Check your user manual for the right pressures and make sure they stay there. Most garages have a machine that will fill them to the correct pressure.
Obvious, but getting lost uses up more fuel. The AA says you should not only plan routes in terms of finding your destination, but also combine shorter journeys. And if you can walk or cycle somewhere, why not?
Wind your windows up
When the weather is good it's all too tempting to wind the windows down and get some fresh air, but the sad fact is that this ruins a car's aerodynamics, which in turn means you'll use more fuel. The same applies to exterior add-ons such as roof racks and roof boxes. When they're not in use, leave them at home.
Work out your consumption
If you knew you were getting 20mpg less than the manufacturer's official average figure (you generally will get less, but not by that much), that's good motivation to change. It's simple really. Brim your tank and from there keep a note of your mileage. Record all the fuel you pay for and the miles you've used with it. Divide your mileage by the number of litres used, and then multiply by 4.546 to get the miles per gallon figure. For example, 750 miles using 98 litres of fuel is 34.8mpg.