Revealed: The UK has saved millions on fuel during Coronavirus lockdown

UK drivers have saved over a staggering £267 million on fuel in total during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

Due to government guidelines about working from home and only making essential journeys, the vast majority of the population has been staying indoors, saving both time and money on their usual commute. ‘WFH’ has become the new normal for many over the past two months, with makeshift offices and much more streamlined tea rounds replacing the traditional 9-5.

But it’s the impact on the nation’s purse strings that has seen the most noticeable change, with drivers saving over a quarter of a billion pounds on fuel that they would normally spend on commuting to and from work.

Our data shows how lockdown has changed our daily routine, and what those changes mean for our time and money.

On average, Brits spend 58 minutes a day commuting[1] for work by car, covering 3.4 miles each way. Over the course of a year that adds up to over 200 hours, or around eight and a half days a year.

Fuel doesn’t come cheap. Owners of petrol cars spend around £1,042 a year to fuel their cars, while diesel drivers spend slightly more at £1,265. That equates to an average fuel spend of £1,154 a year, 3.26% of the average UK salary (£35,423)[2].

Lockdown, of course, has changed all that.

Somewhat surprisingly, the data tells us that only £80.50 of that total is spent on fuel for commuting per year - just 35p a working day. But that still adds up to a considerable sum when you do the maths.

As of May 12 2020, we’ve been in lockdown for 51 days. 34 of which were working days, where we’d typically commute.

68% of the UK population drive to work everyday, which equates to 22,487,600 people.

Times that by the fuel cost of a single working day, and you get a grand total of £267,602,440.00 over the 34 days of lockdown.

Coronavirus has made commuting a thing of the past (for now)

Travelling during the Coronavirus lockdown has been severely impacted, with UK roads looking eerily quiet since stay at home instructions were issued on March 23 2020.

With most of our cars having been parked up for that time, the petrol pumps have taken a hit.

That saving has severely impacted the cost of fuel at the pumps, with prices for both petrol and diesel plummeting since coronavirus arrived. This has been reflected in the stock market, where oil stocks have been on a steady decline over the past three months[3].

We’ve also saved a lot of time usually spent battling rush hour traffic.

The average Brit has saved 30 hours 36 minutes on commuting during lockdown so far, with that number only set to increase as the pandemic continues.

While working from home won’t be working for everyone, commuters on some of the country’s most congested routes[4] may well be enjoying a break from the daily slog to get into their offices.

Unsurprisingly, it’s London that takes the top spot for the busiest rush hour route, with a journey from Chiswick Roundabout to the A40 costing drivers an average of 56 hours a year as tailback mounts up. Leeds also causes delays, as commuters travelling from Harrogate Road to Victoria Street lose an average of 40 hours a year, while commuters going from the A56 to Northumberland Street in Manchester miss out on 36 hours through congestion.

Being stuck at home might not be ideal, but it may well be better than being stuck in traffic.

A population staying put

Driving on the whole throughout the UK has been drastically reduced, by 62% compared to the start of 2020. This is significantly more than in other countries, with the USA’s driving only down by 30% as Government advice and measures differ throughout the world.

Public transport has also taken a significant hit, with that down by 81%. Even walking is down, with 61% fewer people taking to the streets as they choose to stick to the safety of home.

As lockdown guidance begins to change, it will be interesting to see who takes up the offer of driving further afield for exercise and who decides staying at home is still the best option.

The impact on insurance

Commenting on the research findings, Matt Oliver, motoring expert from GoCompare said:

"Understandably, as cars are used less, we are starting to see an impact on insurance and pricing.

There are a few things you can do to reduce costs while your car isn’t in use. If you have a finance agreement for your vehicle, talk to your provider as they should be able to offer you a payment break.

You can also speak to your insurer to see if there is anything they can do to help such as reducing or deferring premiums. You could look to lower your standard mileage or your cover level to reduce your premium.

If your renewal date is due shortly, shop around to see if you can get the cover you need for a much cheaper price.

It will be interesting to see how fuel usage changes once lockdown has lifted. With companies announcing remote working will continue, this will affect the daily commute for thousands of drivers."

Have you saved on your commute?

While Coronavirus has been disastrous for society and the economy as a whole, there’s no denying that it’s benefitting the pockets of millions of commuters who’ve been told to stay at home to avoid spreading the disease.

While it might be a slim consolation right now, the money saved by not driving could soon add up. If you’re one of the millions being told to work from home, see how much you’ve saved on your commute by using our fuel price calculator.

[1] Modal comparisons (TSGB01). Retrieved 15 May 2020.

[2] Average Cost of Petrol for a Car 2020. NimbeFins. Retrieved 15 May 2020.

[3] UK Oil & Gas PLC. London Stock Exchange. Retrieved 15 May 2020.

[4] UK rush hour drivers spend more than a day in traffic. BBC News. Retrieved 15 May 2020.

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