New research from the Energy Saving Trust has revealed that UK businesses could save around £50 million a year by reducing unnecessary weight in the back of their vans and light goods vehicles.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has found that businesses operating fleets of light goods vehicles (LGVs) of up to 3.5 tonnes – which range from car-derived vans to Luton vans – may be missing a simple trick to increase their fuel efficiency and reduce petrol and diesel consumptions.

It is estimated that if half the light goods vehicle drivers in the UK lightened their loads by 75 kilograms – equivalent to three bags of cement or an empty industrial gas cylinder – they could save around £50 million on fuel each year. This would also result in 100,000 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – enough to fill around 24 million red telephone boxes.

Previous research has found that a typical van – driving the NEDC regulatory test cycle – used 8% more fuel when fully laden, compared to being driven empty.

However, new research carried out by Cenex – a Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies – on behalf of the EST has, for the first time, modelled 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. For panel vans such as the Peugeot Boxer, the difference in fuel consumption was up to 33%.

EST 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 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."

To learn more about improving fuel efficiency, contact the EST advice line on 0845 602 1425 or email