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Does air con use more fuel?

24th June 2020

Although some believe this to be a myth, air con does in fact increase your fuel consumption. It's suggested that by using your air conditioning, this can increase your fuel consumption by around 8-10%.

While air conditioning uses more fuel than normal, it's important to note that driving with open windows also reduces your fuel efficiency. This creates a 'drag' for the vehicle, which means the engine must work harder to pull the vehicle along the road, as the wind from the open window acts as resistance. This then, in turn, increases the amount of fuel used.

Air con Vs open windows

However, when the heat of summer is upon is, it's unfeasible to suggest that we shouldn't be using our air conditioning or having the windows open to save fuel. But which option is more environmentally and economically friendly?

Research suggests if you are travelling at speeds of around 50mph or less, it's more economical to open your windows. This is because running the air conditioning at this low engine speed would actually create extra demand - so when travelling at speeds over 50mph, it's better to use the air conditioning system, as the drag will also have more resistance at high speeds from open windows.

What will improve fuel consumption?

As well as avoiding using your air conditioning and driving with a window open, there are some more things you can do to improve your fuel consumption. Some of these tips include:

  • Reduce a heavy load - whether you're travelling with a full boot packed with suitcases and luggage, or simply more passengers than normal, this also creates the drag effect for your vehicle - resulting in using more fuel on your journey.
  • Tyre pressure - if your tyres are not inflated to the correct tyre pressure, this can also cause fuel efficiency to decrease. If the tyre is under inflated, this means there will be a larger surface area contacting the road - which means there will be more drag on the wheel.
  • Driving style - be conscious that the way you drive your vehicle will also have a direct impact on your fuel consumption. Gentle acceleration and using the highest safe gear will likely use less fuel, rather than using harsh acceleration and using the gears often.

Now you've learnt if air con uses more fuel, and what will improve fuel consumption going forwards, browse our air conditioning services at Merityre Specialists. Our air conditioning recharge service allows your air con system to work efficiently all year round. To find out more, get in touch with our team of experts now.