Running your vehicle’s AC can reduce fuel economy by 25%, report finds

Here are some tips to help improve fuel economy in hot weather

Gas pump (Pixabay)

SAN ANTONIO – Gas prices are soaring and so is the heat but turning down the air conditioning in your car could be hurting your wallet.

A report from the Environmental Protection Agency states that AC can reduce a car’s fuel economy by more than 25%, especially on those short trips to run errands.

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“Running your car’s air conditioning is the main contributor to reduced fuel economy in hot weather,” according to the EPA.

The weather forecast for San Antonio is showing highs in the triple digits for the foreseeable future, which is not great news for people who like to crank the AC all the way down. Especially with gas prices soaring to record highs in recent weeks.

Driving with your windows open isn’t great for fuel economy either since it causes wind resistance and makes your vehicle consume more fuel to make it go. Lowering your windows at low speeds won’t have too much effect on your fuel economy but if you’re on one of San Antonio’s many highways — it could cost you.

You’re not out of the woods if you have a hybrid or electrical vehicle either. Those vehicles can have an even larger loss of fuel economy with the extreme heat conditions, according to the EPA.

While hot weather does help warm up engines for more fuel efficiency, it’s the use of AC that really outweighs the benefit for motorists.

The EPA suggests the following tips to help improve fuel economy in hot weather:

  • Roll the windows down at lower speeds; use the AC at highway speeds.
  • Don’t use the AC more than needed or set the temperature lower than needed.
  • Park in the shade or use a sunshade so that the cabin doesn’t get as hot.
  • Drive with the windows open for a short time before using the AC. Letting hot air out of the cabin first will put less demand on the AC and help your vehicle cool faster.
  • Don’t idle with the AC running before driving. Turn the AC on after you begin to drive or after airing out the cabin briefly. Most AC systems will cool the vehicle faster while driving.
  • Read your owner’s manual. Most manuals explain how the AC system controls work and how to best use and maintain the AC system.
  • For plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, pre-cooling the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend your vehicle’s range. Also, using a warmer temperature setting for the AC will use less battery power.

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