Air con – the fuel facts and figures

June 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Turning up your air conditioning in the summer heat? This can hammer your car’s fuel consumption, according to a Swiss study released this week which comes up with some figures to support what we knew already. Federal laboratory Empa says that even in chilly Switzerland, air conditioning use accounts for 5% of total fuel use, or 10% in urban traffic. In warmer climates, that increases to as much as 30%.

The study looked at both petrol and diesel cars, and noted that the air con systems continued to compress refrigerent gases even when the outside ambient temperature was lower than that inside the car. The researchers suggest that two-thirds of the extra fuel use could be cut by automatically switching off air con systems at temperatures below 18 degrees Celsius – and that this could result in an average national fuel saving of 2%. Full story in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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