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There are many reasons why reducing your campervan emissions is a great idea. It’s not only good for the environment, but can also offer better performance, and increased fuel economy, among many other benefits. But how do you go about doing it? Read this Motorhome Protect ‘How to’ guide and have a cleaner, greener campervan in no time.

Just like finding the right campervan cover, cutting your van’s emissions doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Speak to the insurance specialists at Motorhome Protect and see how we can help.

Campervan

Why is cutting campervan emissions a good idea?

For many years now governments, the campervan industry and vehicle owners have been working to reduce the quantity of emissions produced by these remarkable machines. Campervan owners are well known for loving the great outdoors, but unfortunately their vehicles often emit a wide range of harmful gases and particles. These feed into climate change, environmental problems, air pollution, and have serious health implications.

Campervan emissions include harmless substances such as oxygen and water. But they also include more dangerous pollutants. Some of the most harmful emissions are:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) - A greenhouse gas that scientists say is contributing to a rise in average global temperatures, so-called climate change. It’s also contributing to ocean acidification.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) - An invisible but highly toxic gas. More of a problem in older vehicles.
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx) - Causes respiratory problems and contributes to the creation of smog, acid rain and greenhouse gases.
  • Hydrocarbons (HC) - Reacts with NO2 and sunlight. At ground level this is very harmful as it inflames lungs and causes breathing difficulties.
  • Benzene (C6H6) - Carcinogenic and very harmful to health.
  • Particulate matter (PM) - Tiny pieces of solid airborne particles. Soot, metals and liquid droplets that cause serious health problems including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and lung cancer.

Since 1992, campervans, motorhomes and other vehicles have had to meet European emissions standards. These classify what emissions they produce and in what quantities. However, in 'real-world' driving tests the emissions have varied significantly from those measured under ‘lab’ conditions.

With improved design and the addition of catalytic converters and particulate filters, manufacturers have significantly reduced exhaust emissions in recent years. But this is still not enough, and the UK government has now pledged to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030. It hopes that by doing this it will encourage people to make the switch to electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, many cities in the UK and in Europe have now introduced clean air zones (CAZ) to discourage the most polluting vehicles from entering them. Alongside London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), there are also CAZ planned for Bath, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Oxford, Manchester, Bradford, Bristol, and Sheffield among others. Not all of these will affect campervans but it’s still worth checking ahead. For further information on the UK’s new clean air zones go to the Government’s online portal.

Meanwhile in Europe, countries popular with UK campervan tourers like France, Germany and Italy have similar schemes. Applying before you leave the UK will save you a headache when on the road and may even help you avoid a considerable fine. For more on Euro road rules to know before you go, read our recent article. Remember, if you’re traveling over to the continent then you’ll need to make sure your campervan insurance includes European cover. Speak to the team at Motorhome Protect and discuss plans for your trip.

And it’s not just the environmental, health and travel benefits that you’ll receive by reducing your emissions. It could also result in:

  • Financial savings - By using vehicles more efficiently you can save money through reduced fuel costs and less wear and tear.
  • Feeling positive - With increased awareness of environmental issues, reducing your environmental impact will make you feel like you’re doing your bit.
  • Future proofing - When it comes to selling on your trusty campervan, a vehicle with reduced emissions is undoubtedly going to get you a better price.

So, how do you do it? There are plenty of things you can do to ensure you are reducing your campervan emissions as much as possible. Here are some of the best ideas.

  1. Use a fuel system cleaner

As a campervan gets older, harmful deposits can soon build up in the vehicle's engine and fuel system. By adding a fuel system cleaner you’ll remove deposits, lower emissions, and stop the problem from recurring. There are many products on the market, and you’ll find plenty at car maintenance stores such as Halfords.

Most just require you to pour a bottle of liquid into the fuel tank and then drive. There’s no need to get your hands dirty. You’ll usually need to make sure the tank is already at least a quarter full and then drive the campervan for at least 10 to 15 miles. It’s usually necessary to use these products every three months to maintain optimum efficiency. But each product will have slightly different usage instructions, so always read the label before use!

VW campers

  1. Treat your camper to premium fuel

Rather than a fuel system cleaner, some motorists swear by premium fuels that already contain these additives. They feel that using fuels such as BP Ultimate, Total Excellium and Shell V-Power have a similar effect. Costing around 5-10p per litre more than standard unleaded and diesel products you’ll get a higher octane (petrol) or cetane (diesel) rating and a high-quality package of cleaning agents.

So, is it worth paying more for premium fuels for your beloved camper? The manufacturers claim these fuels improve efficiency and reduce emissions. While some drivers claim to have noticed an increase in performance. It seems results will vary according to the make, model and age of the campervan, and how you drive. The motoring obsessives over at Auto Express feel that if you’ve got a larger or high-performance vehicle (particularly if it’s diesel) then it might be worth the extra expense. Why not fill up a couple times with premium fuel to see if you spot any change?

  1. Change the oil

Engine oil is essential to the efficient running of your campervan. But not only does it lubricate, clean, cool and prevent wear to the engine but it also affects engine emissions in a number of ways.

Always use the right grade of oil for your campervan engine. And check your vehicle handbook for how often it needs to be changed to keep the engine running efficiently.

  1. Change the air filter

Another servicing issue you want to keep in mind is changing the air filter. A clogged air filter will reduce airflow to the engine, letting harmful deposits build up, causing extra wear and tear, and increasing emissions. Always check the handbook for how often the air filter needs to be swapped out. But be aware, if your campervan is used in a dusty environment regularly then this might need to happen more frequently.

  1. Check your tyre pressure

Checking the condition of your tyres and their pressure should be a regular part of any pre-journey checks. However, we don’t live in an ideal world and sometimes we aren’t as diligent as we should be.

Low tyre pressure has been proven to cause increased tyre wear, increased fuel consumption and therefore increased emissions. A triple whammy! So, if you want a quick win then check your tyre pressures at least once a month. You can use KwikFit’s handy online tyre pressure tool to check the recommended tyre pressure for your campervan.

  1. Use air conditioning sparingly

Using the air conditioning system (particularly when sitting in traffic) will make the engine work harder, burn more fuel, and increase emissions. That said, it’s good to use the air conditioning system at least once a week to prevent potentially expensive repairs in the future.

If you’re sat in slow moving traffic then winding down the windows is a much better option. But when you begin to move faster you might need to revert to the air con. Travelling with the windows down creates drag which increases fuel consumption and emissions.

  1. Cut energy consumption

Cutting back on energy consumption when you’re parked up may not reduce engine emissions but it’ll certainly help your green credentials. From ensuring your van is properly insulated to using LED lights inside, there are many ways to cut your energy usage. And if you’re considering energy needs, then now might be a good time to invest in solar panels for your van. Just be sure you get it right by following our guide to campervan solar panels. 

  1. Cut back on idling

Leaving your camper running when parked or stuck in traffic is bound to use more fuel and raise your campervan emissions. Get into the habit of switching off, and help the environment in the process.

  1. Watch your driving style

It isn’t just your campervan that plays a role in emissions, you also play a big part, too. Tweaking your driving habits can have a major impact on the level of emissions you produce. Consider the following:

  • Change gear earlier.
  • Avoid speeding and excessive acceleration.
  • Brake sooner and smoother. Be sure to leave adequate space between your camper and the vehicle in front.
  • Use cruise control if you’ve got it and the road conditions are suitable.
  1. Avoid unnecessary driving

When you’ve reached your destination and set your campervan up the way you want it, it’s a shame to pack everything back up just for a short trip to the local shop. Going for a walk or using a bike aren’t just great ways to exercise and get to know the local area. They also cause no harmful emissions at all!

  1. Reduce drag

Campervans aren’t known for their aerodynamic efficiency but that doesn’t mean improvements can’t be made. If you have a roof rack, bike carrier or roof box fitted then consider whether you really need it for every trip. These little extras create resistance and cause drag, increasing your campervan emissions.

Campervan in carpark

  1. Reduce the load

Do you really need everything you’ve packed for the trip? Just because you’ve got the space for it, that doesn’t mean you need to bring it. Keeping within your vehicle’s payload is important not only for safety but also for fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. So have a look in your cupboards and storage areas and take out anything non-essential.

  1. Keep on top of maintenance issues

Building a campervan produces a lot of emissions. Indeed, in some cases more emissions than the vehicle ever produces in a lifetime of driving! This means that if your campervan is scrapped after just a few years then the emissions cycle begins all over again. So, prolonging the life of your campervan through great maintenance not only protects your investment but also has a massive impact on total emissions.

  1. Use your campervan for more holidays

Flying has a huge impact on emissions. So, using your campervan for more holidays could cut your overall emissions significantly. What a fun way to reduce your impact on the environment!

  1. Consider an electric campervan

Taking the steps above will undoubtedly lower the emissions of your existing camper. But when it comes to buying a new camper then you could seriously reduce emissions by investing in the latest hybrid or electric campervan model. They’re becoming more affordable all the time, and although the price tag is higher initially, the fuel savings you make in the long term are substantial.

Campervan insurance from Motorhome Protect

While you’re driving carefully to help cut down your emissions, Motorhome Protect is working hard to keep you safe on the roads.

Benefits of taking out insurance with us can include cover for theft and accident as well as camping personal effects up to £3,500. We can cover campervans with a value up to £120,000.

Discounts are available if you’re a member of a campervan club while quotes are also available for customers with claims and convictions.

Get a quick quote for campervan insurance from Motorhome Protect today for your vehicle and contents.