AC Use and Fuel Efficiency

September 23, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

A long commute during hot weather is one of those times when your AC is a necessity. A common debate among car owners is what impacts your car’s overall gas mileage and how you can make your tank last longer between fill-ups. One aspect of the debate is, does AC affect gas mileage? 

The debate on what is the most fuel-efficient way to keep your car cool (AC versus rolled down windows) has been going on for many years. Several factors can play a role, such as your car’s overall gas mileage, design, AC functionality, and the temperature outside. However, in the broader sense, the answer to the question of, does AC affect fuel economy, is yes. But there are ways to keep cool and operate your car efficiently.

Reducing Fuel Consumption From AC Use

  • Overuse of your car’s AC can burn gas and reduce overall fuel efficiency, especially in situations where there are other ways to keep your car comfortable. For example, if the weather isn’t too hot, or it isn’t the hottest part of the day, consider rolling down the windows and letting your car’s interior cool naturally. Once the interior temperature is lowered, it’s easier to keep it at a comfortable level by running the vent or AC at a lower setting.
  • Air circulation is a key part of temperature control and running the vent keeps the air moving throughout your car’s cabin. Plus, due to a lack of AC use, running the vent does not burn fuel.
  • Consider the overall condition of your car’s AC. Repair needs such as leaking hoses and low coolant levels can reduce overall AC effectiveness. This means you have to run the AC longer when you do need it and this burns more fuel. While your AC does burn gas, a well-maintained one will burn less due to optimized performance.
  • The type of car you own and engine size also affects how much fuel is used when running your AC. While a larger engine may provide more power, these engines are often found in much larger automobiles such as SUVs. A larger automobile will require more gas to cool simply due to being larger. If you drive long distances often or have a long daily commute, you may want to consider a smaller sedan due to more efficient cooling and better overall fuel economy.

Final Thoughts

Running your AC is often unavoidable during the hottest times of the day and the hottest parts of the year. But being more careful with AC use and better habits such as parking in the shade and using sun visors can help keep your car cooler and reduce AC use, in turn improving fuel use.

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