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4 tips for efficient air conditioning during a summer commute

Friday, July 27, 2018by  Miles Bell

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AC in Car.jpgWith the warm summer days in full effect, a long drive home in the late-afternoon heat can be a stressful ending to anyone's work day. Rolling down your windows or cranking the air conditioning can help alleviate a sweaty car ride, but knowing these additional tricks and tips can help you get the most out of your vehicle's conditioning system.

  1. Conditioning-before-driving: As helpful and tempting as it seems, try not to crank your car's air conditioning before hopping in for that long summer commute. The A/C compressor works the best while the engine is spinning, or when you're actually driving the vehicle. Not to mention, running your car while waiting for the air conditioning to kick in also unnecessarily wastes gas. 
  2. Recirculation mode: Make sure to turn off the recirculation mode when you first start your car—this will allow your conditioning system to filter out any stagnant hot air. After the cabin is at a comfortable temperature, you can switch on the recirculation mode to make sure that the cool atmosphere is maintained. Otherwise, the hot air that you feel upon entering your car will merely be recycled throughout the cabin, therefore taking longer before you're driving in a cool temperature.
  3. A/C maintenance: Especially if your car is an older model (1994 or prior) it is crucial to have your air conditioning system serviced. Your vehicle's conditioning is produced by a refrigerant often called a "freon," which is a chemical that can leak and become less effective depending on the age of your system. Not only does this result in a broken or useless A/C unit, but this leaking refrigerant is also toxic for the atmosphere and damages the ozone layer. So get your air conditioning serviced, not only to enjoy a consistently cooled cabin, but to also do your part in leaving a miniscule carbon footprint!
  4. Fun fact: Rolling down all of the windows of one's car while driving is not only ineffective in terms of producing cool air in the cabin, but it can also decrease the MPG on any given vehicle. This is because the open windows make your vehicle drag, and essentially create a less aerodynamic vehicle. With that being said, a counterargument could be that a running A/C system in hot weather can also increase fuel consumption.

While this may not be an exhaustive list of tricks for successful air conditioning, these tips should help turn that hot and stressful evening commute into a more relaxed one!

Do you have any additional tactics that have proven useful during these hot summer months in the Pacific Northwest? If so, comment below!

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Comments on this post

personReginald Caton06/25/2021 10:41 AM
I like to make my Tilly hat wet (not dripping) before I wear it. We also bought some neck coolers a bit like snakes filled with a substance that when precooled in the fridge stayed cool for about a half hour when worn around the neck. We bought these in Canada at a street fair but easy to make.

personRick N06/24/2021 07:04 PM
If I happen to be out in the convertible on VERY hot days (90+) I turn on the AC even if the top is down.  It cools my feet and mid-section head is toasty though
personC Thomas06/24/2021 06:22 PM
Thank you so much for all these great tips, just when we need them.  GO Pemco!
personJaime L08/03/2018 05:23 PM
I like to roll all the windows down and turn the AC to the maximum! ;)

In all honesty though I do roll all the windows down at the very start to let all that stagnant hot air out, then I roll the windows back up and let the AC do its magic.

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