Does Car Air Conditioning Affect Gas Mileage?

By Product Expert | Posted in Stories of Interest, Tips and Tricks on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 at 9:54 pm
car air conditioning buttons lit up

Do You Waste Gas Using Car Air Conditioning?

Things can get hot here in Henderson NV, but if you’re on the road, you can always rely on air conditioning to keep you cool. But do you waste gas using the car air conditioning? Some drivers wonder if it’s better to suffer through the heat rather than use any gas on cooling the vehicle’s interior. Is this true? Let’s find out.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hot weather can actually make your vehicle more efficient because the heat can help your engine more quickly warm up to an efficient temperature. That being said, using the air conditioning can negatively affect fuel economy. The real question is, by how much?

[Read more: Which type of fuel does your Volkswagen need?]

Is it more fuel efficient to roll the windows down or use air conditioning in warm weather?

saving fuel with the car windows rolled downHow much fuel gets used when using your car’s air conditioner in hot weather can depend on many factors, making it difficult to say for sure. Though it may be difficult to tell how much fuel your air conditioning is costing you, the EPA reports that using it could affect fuel economy by over 25 percent.

Unfortunately, simply turning the air conditioning off and opening the car windows isn’t as simple an answer as it may seem, since it increases aerodynamic drag. Therefore, it’s tough to say if it’s better to use your car’s air conditioning or just roll down the windows, but here are a few tips:

Fuel Saving Tips in Hot Weather

  1. Roll the windows down when traveling at lower speeds, since there will be less effect on the aerodynamic drag. In turn, save your air conditioning use for highway speed situations.
  2. Try to eliminate the need for air conditioning by parking in the shade or a garage.
  3. If idle, let as much hot air leave through rolling the windows down rather than using the air conditioning with the windows rolled up.
  4. Limit your driving to nighttime whenever possible.

Read more automotive tips and tricks

So, do you waste gas using car air conditioning? Unfortunately, yes, but if you’re smart about it you can easily limit the negative effects to your car’s fuel economy while still remaining cool in the hot weather.

6 Responses to “Does Car Air Conditioning Affect Gas Mileage?”

  1. Edward Green says:

    Yes, we always waste gas when using our car’s air conditioning system. Because when we drive our car without ac, then all the parts function using the powers supplied by our car battery. But when we turn on our ac system, then it uses energy given to it by the alternator and it is the energy which is generated by using the fuel of our gas tank. That means some amount of fuel is consumed in the production of energy, as a result of which our car won’t cover that range of miles as supposed to be. Moreover, I can tell that if you want comfort and to keep cool while driving, then you have to make compromise with miles.

  2. Peter Hughes says:

    The answer is ‘Yes’, and I think it is quite obvious. Because the air conditioning system controlled by the engine. I mean to say that when we turn the AC on, it usually drags power from the engine-the power source, that utilizes some amount of gas. No doubt, our car ac keeps us cool when the outside temperature is too high. But the ultimate truth is, we repeatedly waste some amount of fuel for its smooth operation. Listen, no one can get both coolness and better fuel efficiency at one time, especially during the dog days. So, choice is yours. Whatever you choose, you will get the result accordingly.

  3. Jason perez says:

    I do agree with the fact that air conditioner has negative effects on the fuel economy of the vehicle. However, the benefits associated with it is more. If, we don’t use AC and open our windows for ventilation, then it also affects the fuel economy of the vehicle in a very negative way. There are a lot of factors affects the fuel economy of the vehicle and we should identify such factors and take suitable initiatives to reduce it’s negative impacts on the fuel economy of the vehicle.

  4. Rosa Paula says:

    Of course we waste gas while using car’s air conditioning. Because when we turn on the AC system, then it utilizes the energy of the alternator and the energy of the alternator comes from the fuel or gas tank of the car. It is true that our car’s ac gives us cool air, But for it we have to waste a lot of fuel. To save fuel we should roll down the windows while car is traveling at low speeds. We should try to park the car in shade or garage to avoid the use of air conditioner. We must try to limit our driving to the night time so that we don’t have to use the AC.

  5. Talesha Lance says:

    While running the car’s air conditioner increases the fuel consumption, it is more efficient than driving with the windows open at the highway speeds. Use of ac in the hot weather negatively affects the fuel economy or gas mileage of a vehicle . If someone put a question- to what extent it affects the gas mileage, the answer may vary between car models and between individuals as their driving habits may vary. If you want to know whether running the AC is bad for mileage or not on your car, then you should consult a certified automotive technician.

  6. Ezra Fox says:

    Keeping the vehicle’s air conditioning unit on is the main contributor to reduced gas mileage. However, that decrement is quite small. Don’t need to turn off AC, as so many other alternatives are there to improve overall gas mileage. You can improve your fuel economy by avoiding aggressive driving. You will receive the same upshot, by keeping your vehicle’s engine in tune- . Besides that, you need to remove excess weight from your convertible to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve gas mileage as well.

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