How much does fuel actually cost?

You probably think you know how much fuel costs. Where I live, diesel is around £1.40 a litre right now. So, in basic terms, it’s £1.40 a litre. But how much is that in real terms?

Well, while out walking the dog, I figured out that it costs me £3 a day to drive to and from work. And that scares me, because I don’t live that far from work, as it takes around half an hour to cycle there every day – and that’s when I’m taking it easy. I have managed to get there in 21 minutes when I was actually trying.

So, how is it £3 per day?

Well, first we work out how much a gallon of fuel is, because cars tell you how much fuel they go through per gallon, by way of miles to the gallon. So, if fuel is £1.40 a litre, and there are around 4.546 litres in a gallon, then £1.40 x 4.546 is £6.27 per gallon.

Next we work out how many miles to the gallon my car does. Apparently around 40 right now. That’ll probably / hopefully improve soon, but it’s a close enough figure to be getting on with. If I can go 40 miles per gallon, and it costs £6.27 for a gallon, then 40 (miles) ÷ (£)6.27 = 6.38 miles per £1.

It’s about 9 miles to drive to work; far less on my bike, at around 6.7 miles. 9 miles there, another 9 back, 18 miles. 18 ÷ 6.38 = £2.82 fuel per day. Add on 18p for when I’m sitting at lights idling, and you’ve got £3.

Clearly, this is a rough bit of calculation, but it’s not going to be far away. £3 per day may also not sound like much to some, but it’s a hefty bit of cash when you’re going 5 days a week. And if you can save that cash by cycling to work, then you’re doing yourself two favours in one, by saving cash while getting / keeping fit.

It’s a no-brainer.

2 thoughts on “How much does fuel actually cost?

  1. It costs you more than £3, what about depreciation, insurance and tax. And what about opportunity cost, the interest your losing if you’d put the money in the bank. Sell the car, cycle every day!

    Where I live, London, we have Zipcar, a car parked in the street you can book online for an hour or a day.


  2. While your points are valid, the post wasn’t about the total cost of running a car, but instead focused solely on fuel costs. Alas, selling the car would make it difficult to transport the wife, kids and dogs anywhere! And here in Edinburgh, we have the city car club which sounds similar to your Zipcar. No such cars, though, where we live, it is a central thing only, AFAIK.

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