Volkswagen Magazine


quite simple: think blue.

Do you want more sustainability in your everyday life? Here are 20 practical tips that will help you cut your environmental pollution level and protect your wallet – without spoiling your fun.

Text Jochen Förster
Illustrations Anja Stiehler / Jutta Fricke Illustrators

on the road.

Driving without resistance.

Saving fuel happens even before you set off on your trip – for example, with a tyre-pressure monitoring system. The rolling resistance contributes up to 15 percent of total consumption. Inflate the tyres to the recommended pressure for a full load – the values can be found inside the fuel filler flap. When buying tyres, also look out for a very low rolling resistance, which saves up to 3 percent on fuel consumption and is also quieter. A similarly effective method is to keep the engine running smoothly. High-quality low-viscosity oils can reduce fuel consumption by up to 5 percent – and are available at your local Volkswagen Retailer. Or try combining individual trips. Your engine uses most power when it is cold. Combining many trips into one is much more economical than letting the engine cool down over and over again between several short trips.

Always stay relaxed.

Tailgating in stop-and-go traffic, obnoxiously staying in the outside lane on the motorway and flashing your headlights – those who drive aggressively put themselves and others at risk. They get themselves and others all worked up. And they waste fuel. Those who are smart are forward-thinking when they drive. Let your car “swim along” through the traffic so you avoid traffic jams and make less environmental impact. The same goes for switching gears: stay at low speed while shifting upwards, skipping a gear should be fine. For many vehicles 50 km/h in fifth gear is no problem. The noise level and fuel consumption decrease significantly compared to a high-revving driving style. As long as your car runs smoothly and quietly, the rev speed is fine. And don’t worry: it’s a myth that low-rev driving is harmful to the engine. Modern TDI and TSI engines love third gear at 30 km/h.

A well-ventilated car is already half air-conditioned.

It’s great that the Volkswagen has air-conditioning and seat and mirror heaters. They make driving more comfortable. But if used excessively, they also make it more expensive. Therefore, check which accessories you’re using while driving, and which you really need. By turning down and maintaining the internal temperature in summer, the air-conditioning consumes up to two litres per 100 kilometres at low speeds. You will get rid of the heat (and excessive consumption) just as well by airing out the car before driving or keeping your windows open on short trips. In the winter, heated seats and rear windows consume fuel. Turn them off as soon as the rear window is clear and the seats are warm.

The full load.

Effective aerodynamics are one of the keys to low-emission trips, especially at high speeds. A 33 percent increase in air resistance will increase fuel consumption at 160 km/h by up to two litres per 100 kilometres. The same applies to luggage: 100 kilos of weight increases fuel consumption by up to 0.3 litres per 100 kilometres. Regularly check the contents of your boot. There’s no need to drive around with empty drinks crates for months at a time. Those who aren’t travelling should avoid carrying excess weight in the boot and also uninstall ski, bike and roof racks.

Just let

Do you know when you consume exactly 0.0 litres of fuel? That’s right: when you’re going downhill in neutral. Thanks to our fuel cut-off, the fuel supply to the engine is interrupted, and you don’t consume a single drop. But even when in neutral you consume significantly less – about as much as when you coast towards a red light.

at home.

Turn off the lights if nobody’s there.

Home at last, it was a long day and it’s late. First you just turn a light on, and everything looks nice and cosy. Minutes later seven lights are on in four rooms. However, you’re only in one. Make it a habit to only have the lights on in the rooms where you currently are. Configure your home so that you can use as much natural light as possible. And wherever possible use only energy-saving bulbs from brand-name manufacturers – these use up to 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Cheap energy-saving bulbs often don’t last that long. The best light colours are “extra warm white” or “warm white” – they are very close to the colour of incandescent bulbs. High-quality energy-saving bulbs are also a worthwhile option when the lights are frequently switched on and off,for example in stairwells. In cases like this, a time switch control is recommended. In seldom-used rooms, such as a basement or attic, and also in the garden, motion detectors make sense.

It doesn’t always have to be like a sauna.

In addition to the rent, heating is often the largest cost-of-living item – and it offers the highest potential for shrewed savings. Even if you lower the room temperature by one degree Celsius, you save 6 percent of the energy consumed. With a clever mix of measures you can achieve a great deal more. Ventilate intermittently (open the window for five to ten minutes) – if you leave the window open while running the heating, you’re heating the street. Install a heating thermostat – this way you can set the room temperature at night and during prolonged absences to 15 to 17 degrees. Make sure that windows and doors and your home’s walls and attic are well sealed. And be sure that your radiators are clean and not clogged up so that they provide optimal heat output.

Washing – so cool.

The optimal use of washing machines is a science in itself. The rules are very simple: well filled is mostly “Think Blue.” For normally soiled laundry, 30 degrees without pre-wash is sufficient (saves around 50 percent compared to a 60-degree wash), especially as modern detergents allow lower temperatures, making 90 degrees practically superfluous. Although ecological wash cycles take more time, they use less energy. And anyone who has room for a clothes horse, clothes rack or clothes line in the open air or in well-ventilated areas shouldn’t use a dryer. And, in general, changing to modern units with energy label A+++ is almost always worthwhile.

It’s only rubbish.

Separating rubbish is not difficult – in many countries, there have long been consumer-friendly separation methods. Try to purchase products that are recycled – or recyclable. And take hazardous waste warning labels seriously – energy-saving bulbs, batteries or printer cartridges do not belong among household waste. However generating less (and less hazardous) waste in the first place is more effective than waste separation. Such as by using fabric tote bags. Choose bulk and reusable packaging if you can. Buy reusable bottles or cans instead of disposable ones. And avoid plastic packaging – it is complicated and expensive to recycle.

Go with the flow.

Nothing is nicer than a hot bath in the winter. And nothing uses more household energy. Be choosy. Those who take a shower consume four to five times less energy and save water. Efficient shower heads save up to 50 percent on water. A host of other small actions will have a big impact: turn off the tap while brushing your teeth (in the space of three minutes this saves around 20 litres). Or repair dripping taps (at a rate of ten drops per minute this saves about 170 litres of water per month). You can achieve big savings with your use of hot water, especially through technology. Modern natural-gas water heaters are energy efficient and space saving. Instantaneous electronic devices are preferable over hydraulic or thermal ones because they allow you to adjust the water temperature accurately. You should not set hot-water tank temperatures too high (for showering, 37 degrees is enough) and turn off the water tank when you’re away.

in the kitchen.

The jug is full.

Thermal is not just the magic word for warm clothing – even the good old thermos flask has experienced an Indian summer in the era of “Think Blue.”. Those who fill it with their coffee or tea directly after brewing have a whole day’s worth and save energy. Hours of keeping your drink warm on the hotplate consumes many times more energy than making it in the first place.

that’s wild.

There are a host of opinions – and a lot of conflicting ones – on eating well. Meat or no meat, organic or non-organic – at the end of the day everyone must decide this for themselves. One thing is certain: to avoid unnecessary transportation and emissions, and when in doubt, it is best to choose products that have not been made on the other side of the world. “Buying locally” is the simple solution. In other words, if two products are similar, go for the one that comes from closest to your area. And if you eat meat, here’s a tip: venison from local forests is the best choice from an ecological point of view.

Let’s make a toast!

Bread rolls from the previous day don’t belong in the oven, but in the toaster. This will save up to 70 percent energy compared to baking. In general, the oven is a real energy guzzler. So refrain from extra cooking times: few dishes actually require the oven to be preheated. It’s mostly enough to turn it on when you’re putting pizza, roasts or cakes into it. The cooking times are a bit longer, but you use energy more efficiently. For ovens as well as electric hobs you can already turn them off minutes before cooking time is up – the residual heat will still be enough to finish cooking or baking.

Starting in the fridge.

It may sound paradoxical, but the emptier a fridge, the higher its energy consumption. Cooling air actually requires more energy than cooling foods. Make sure that your shelves are well filled. When in doubt, it is cheaper to fill the gaps with bottles of water. A temperature of 7°C in the fridge and -18 °C in the freezer compartment is generally sufficient. Make sure that the appliances do not freeze (otherwise, defrost). Place them on level ground. And if possible make sure they have an A+++ energy label.

Put a lid on it!

In many households, the main energy artery runs through the middle of the kitchen. A few tricks while cooking will help you save here, such as intelligently using hot water. When cooking pasta you will easily reduce your energy consumption by half if, instead of heating the water on the stovetop, you use a kettle. You can save an additional 30 percent if you follow your grandmother’s advice that every pot should have a lid on it. Cooking with pots and pans goes noticeably faster when they’re covered – and it’s more sustainable. Using a pressure cooker helps you save twice as much. Energy consumption is 50 percent less than on an electric hob. Pots and pans should never be smaller than the stove rings, otherwise you’re wasting energy.

in the office.

PDF beats paper.

It’s still a familiar sight in companies and agencies, publishing houses and offices: the printer is overflowing and no one knows why so many tons of paper are used every day. Our suggestion: not printing documents should be the norm. And if so, then only the sections that you need for your conference, presentation or research. Use double-sided printing. And if in doubt, remember that an upbeat PowerPoint presentation is often a better alternative to hundreds of hand-outs. And afterwards you can simply email your colleagues a PDF.

in numbers.

You regularly see your colleague at the traffic lights on the way to work. Perhaps it’s time to have a chat with him. Car pooling protects the environment and your wallet – in Germany alone traffic causes 18 percent of all CO2 emissions. Even if you use public transport, you can improve your “footprint”. Consider the use of car sharing. And if travelling for work, consider whether you really have to travel by plane. When in doubt, a train ticket is the better option. Especially since time saved by flying is often less than many think. The ICE runs from Hamburg to Frankfurt in about 3.5 hours. If you add in check-in and transfer times, the plane isn’t much faster.

On short trips, do it yourself.

If you’ve arranged to meet someone for lunch, need to run a short shopping errand or have a meeting in a neighbouring district, leave your car at home. Rely on your leg power instead. Or take the bike (these can easily be rented in many cities). Or try car-sharing. And speaking of short-range trips: instead of taking the lift several times a day to go from the 2nd to the 3rd floor, take the stairs. It’s good exercise and keeps you healthy. And in a flash it’ll make you a great example of what it means to “Think Blue.”

How bright should it be?

A normal flat screen consumes as much power as the actual computer, a tube screen as much as twice the amount. Therefore, decide how bright your monitor or TV really needs to be – it’s often less than you think. If you take a break, activate the power saving mode. Automatically switching to this mode saves more than 90 percent compared to working mode. Turning off your computer during your lunch break saves slightly more than one-tenth of your daily electricity consumption.

Everything in off mode.

Yes, even multitasking has a “Think Blue.” dimension. Computers, phones, projectors, sound systems, coffee machines – many workplaces have a lot of devices running simultaneously. You can easily save on energy by using power outlet strips that can be turned off. Many devices – especially newer ones – have no power switch and run on so-called “standby” thus consuming energy. Powering off could save German households alone, for example, about 22 billion kilowatt hours per year.

Clever inventions

There are plenty of ideas. Lots of practical deals too. Today you can find a variety of devices online that help save energy and money. Three examples:

Smartphone charger with solar cell Your mobile phone’s little green friend isn’t just useful when you’re travelling. With a solar charger you can charge your smartphone anywhere without being dependent on electrical outlets. The energy comes from the solar cell..

Self-cleaning dishes
Never wash dishes again? It’s no longer an absurd dream, but quite a practical option. This is made possible by dishes with special coatings which protect the surface against dirt and water – similar to the lotus effect. Neither water nor detergent is needed for cleaning. A dry cloth suffices.

Volkswagen BlueMotion CHECK
Are you interested in driving sustainably, but don’t know which engine suits you best? With the new Volkswagen BlueMotion CHECK, this is no problem. The app finds out which Volkswagen technology is right for you. BlueMotion CHECK analyses your driving profile and compares the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of your current vehicle with sustainable engines (electric, hybrid, natural gas and diesel).*

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