With the staggering heat so far this May and June in San Angelo, we are all desperate to stay cool.  Sometimes, even with air conditioners on max, temperatures well over 105 can leave you sweaty and uncomfortable. Getting the electric bill can leave us sweating even more.

What many people don't realize is: this heat is not just raising your electric bills. The Federal Government's Environmental Protection Agency says that the air conditioning in your vehicle is also costing you more in gas.

Photo by Olav Tvedt on Unsplash
Photo by Olav Tvedt on Unsplash
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In many vehicles, the air conditioning runs on gasoline to cool you down.  How much gasoline? The EPA estimates that AC systems on vehicles can reduce your fuel efficiency by as much as 25% If your car gets around 30 miles a gallon, that's like losing 7.5 miles.  For a 16 gallon tank, that's 4 gallons of gas which would cost you around 18 dollars.

The EPA says the best way to save gas with your AC is to try not to use it as much in low efficiency situations, like the numerous stoplights on Bryant Boulevard or Knickerbocker.  The San Angelo "catch one you catch them all" stoplight system is hard on gas mileage even in the best of conditions.  In temperatures well over 100, it is ten times worse.

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Photo by Wassim Chouak on Unsplash
Photo by Wassim Chouak on Unsplash
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According to EPA scientists, the best way to fight high gasoline usage with your vehicle's air conditioning is to open all the windows and driving your vehicle for a few miles to kick the hot air out of your car. Once that hot air gets out,  then you can close the windows and start cooling.

Their saving energy manual also recommends cooling your car gradually. Turn the air on 80, then 70 and then cooler if you like it that cool.

gauge on dashboard showing high outside temperature
KenTannenbaum
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Another way to stay cool with less gas usage is to invest in cooled seats.  These seats use fans to diffuse the heat and concentrate their cooling directly on the spot where the hot driver or passenger is sitting.  Doing this doesn't completely eliminate fuel use and pollution, but it does use less fuel because it doesn't cool the entire interior of the vehicle.

Although, because it feels like you're sitting on a cold seat, when you first get cooled seats it feels like you're sitting in a wet spot. It is a weird sensation, but the cooling is definitely worth it.

 

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