Friday, June 30, 2006

Just So You Know

I am not a big AC user. I believe that half of the reason it feels hot and miserable outside is from spending too much time in artificially cooled places that shock your system each time you move from one to the other. Now this doesn't mean that I am in judgement of anyone that uses AC, or that I don't use AC myself, it just means that I try to limit my use. We keep our house at about 78-80 degrees F during the summer, which by some standards would be considered warm. I would go higher even but then the fish tank gets too hot and I don't want them to die. We live in a very warm and humid climate so a bit of AC is needed just to keep things in the house dry and must free.

So following along with these beliefs, I tend to not use the AC in my car much. I have several reasons for this, one of which being listed above, but also because I figure it eats gas (which is expensive enough as it is), and because it makes the car work harder (and on older cars, can cause overheating). J and I pretty much didn't use the AC for the entire trip out to NE and while we were there. It was usually in the mid 80s and it wasn't necessary. There was a couple of days in Michigan and Minnesota where it got into the 100s but you only really noticed it when we were sitting still.

Anyhow, we were discussing AC use at Grandpa's house in NE when J's aunt told us that she had read that using the AC in the car didn't hurt the gas mileage any worse than the drag from driving with the windows open did. I figure this could be true and that it is possible as well that newer AC units are probably much more efficient than when I first started driving. So J and I decided to test it out on the way home.

We used the AC (even though it wasn't that hot) pretty much the entire way home (about 1200 miles) up hills, down hills and in some stop and go traffic and I am here to report that we got the same gas mileage on the way home as we did on the rest of the trip (between 25-29mph). It was nice to have the windows closed because I didn't have to deal with tickling wispies and we could both hear the stereo much better. Anyhow, I just thought you would want to know in case you have be denying yourself to save gas.

Note: We drive a small 4 cyclinder truck with a canopy on the back, and 29 mph on the highway is the listed estimated gas mileage for the vehicle. We also didn't run the AC at full blast, once the car cooled down, leaving it on the lowest setting was plenty cool for us.


J.a.G. said...

Good to know.
I have AC but try to limit my use or leave it on the lowest fan setting and just slightly cooler than outside. The drastic change is too much otherwise.

Joanne said...

I dream of owning a window AC. If I lived on the dark side of my building I'm pretty sure I wouldn't need one. But the sunny side is killing me.

When I lived in AZ I never used the car air conditioner. Just rolled down the windows.

Mind Sprite said...

I think they tested this theory on Myth Busters. I can't remember what the results were, but you can probably find it on their website.

I don't use mine too much because I don't like cold air blowing on me. I just cool the car off when I first get in it.

Through a Glass Darkly said...

It's true that using the car a/c is about the same on mileage as the window drag; I read an intersting study about it.

We try to keep our a/c in our apartment at around 75 in the summer. 80 degrees or higher means we're sweating. But below 75 means--as you say--that we're just setting ourselves up to be miserable when we go out.

We live in GA, so I am VERY thankful for A/C overall. I don't know how people slept without it in the summer here.