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Engine Efficiency

An efficient engine is not only good for the environment by minimising emissions, it will give you a better ride on the water and a less painful experience filling up at the pump! If your engine is inefficient it will be using more fuel to power your boat and have a higher amount of emissions that impact air and water quality.


  • Regularly check and service your engine. Fresh oil, clean spark plugs and dust free air-filters all help to lower fuel costs and emissions.
  • Use CE marked and 4-stroke outboard engines manufactured after 2005 or even better an electric engine to increase fuel efficiency, reduce noise and decrease emissions.
  • Fitting sound insulation around the engine can cut noise by 85%.
  • Vibration absorbers can also reduce structural noise by 85%.
  • Consider an electric powered craft or engine if they need replacing. They have low emissions and are very quiet. Visit the RYA’s Electric Boating advice page for more information.
  • Try switching to biodegradable hydraulic and lubricating oils.
  • Keep your speed low to minimise fuel use and emissions. If you need to go faster it is best to get up on the plane, where the drag of the hull is reduced allowing a more efficient drive.
  • Be on an even keel – the hull needs to be as level as possible. If it is not, power and fuel will be lost trying to push the hull up rather than along. Ensure weight is distributed evenly on the craft to keep it level and provide a smoother ride and more mileage per litre.
  • Regularly clean your boat to remove biofouling to reduce drag and fuel consumption. This will also help remove harmful invasive animal and plant matter.

Electric Propulsion

A battery, usually lithium ion on modern systems, is used to power propulsion rather than a liquid fuel, resulting in no direct emissions or concerns around oil and fuel drips and spills. Electric propulsion is also quieter helping to minimise noise disturbance and, although it can be more costly to purchase compared to combustion powered engines, the running costs and level of maintenance is much lower.


The power output required is lower as the electric motor produces instant high torque from the off. Emissions depend on the source of electricity, so if you buy from a renewable energy provider your net emissions are near zero.


Whether you opt for a fuel combustion engine or an electric engine there is best practice you can adopt to keep both your emissions, noise and your costs down, and to maximise the efficiency of your engine.


For further information visit the RYA’s Electric Boating advice page.

Related Resources

Guidance on

Oil & Fuel Use

Video Guidance

Spill Prevention Devices


Green Boating Guides

Environmental Facilities Map

Green Products
& Services

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