How To Save Money on Car Air Conditioning

Nothing guzzles fuel like car air conditioning. Here are a few tips on how to save some bucks on that.

I’ll be the first to admit that I wouldn’t want to live without my car air conditioning, especially in the summer — and where I live, that’s basically March to October. But as nifty and necessary as it is, any auto A/C costs the Earth to run… literally, in one sense.

You see, it’s more than just the cost of fuel that matters here, though that’s nothing to sneeze at. Not only does auto air conditioning use up prodigious amounts of fuel, it dumps greenhouse gasses and pollutants into the atmosphere more rapidly than necessary.

That’s probably going to make the world hotter, which requires more A/C use, which makes it hotter… well, you get the picture here.

What To Do, What To Do…

Even if you’re not worried about the environment (which isn’t a very logical stance for a savvy consumer to take), you certainly want to save money, or you wouldn’t be here. Clearly, then, it behooves you to implement a few tactics to save money on the auto A/C front.

One simple way to do that is to use what some whimsically call the “4-45” air conditioner: that is, roll all four windows down and drive 45 miles an hour to get the necessary cooling effect. (It’ll have to be “2-45” for those who drive coupes).

At speeds over about 45 mph, it’s more cost effective to roll up your windows and turn on the A/C. This is because the wind resistance resulting from having your windows open at higher speeds can actually increase fuel usage.

Other Options

The good ol’ “4-45 system” is probably the simplest way to save money on auto A/C, short of not having an A/C at all. However, you can also avoid running the A/C when your car’s idling, since that uses even more fuel than driving with the A/C on (because the fuel is the only source of energy when idling).

So the next time you’re waiting in the car pool lane or stuck in a traffic jam, turn off the A/C, if you can, and sweat it out.

Otherwise, if your car A/C unit comes with a digital readout, set the temperature a bit higher than you normally would — kind of the way they tell you to set your house’s thermostat higher in the summer to save moolah. Also, turn on the recirculation feature, if you have one, to further cool the cool air in your car.

Finally, use common sense and have your car’s A/C unit serviced regularly. A happy, healthy A/C uses less energy. If you take care of your car and put these other options into play, your car air conditioning doesn’t have to cost the Earth!