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An air conditioning button and switch panel in an old car

If You Want Your Gas Car to Be More Environmentally Friendly, Turn off the Air Conditioning

If you have a gas-powered car, you may think reducing your carbon footprint is out of reach. However, just because you don't drive the latest Tesla doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to make a difference. For starters, open a window and turn off the air conditioning.

Have you ever wondered how to make your car more environmentally friendly? The EV sector is doing amazing things with sustainable technologies to protect the environment. That means there has never been a better time to advance eco-friendly practices in the automobile industry.

Meanwhile, if you have a gas-powered car, you may think reducing your carbon footprint is out of reach. However, just because you don’t drive the latest Tesla doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to make a difference. For starters, open a window and turn off the air conditioning.

Turn off the air conditioning

An air conditioning button and switch panel in an old car
An air conditioning button and switch panel | Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Regardless of the type of vehicle you drive, getting into a hot interior is always uncomfortable. It’s hard to resist the urge to put the A/C on full blast, but that is not the best habit to get into for protecting the environment. According to Popular Mechanics, the air conditioning system in your vehicle puts a significant strain on the electrical components. In turn, the engine has to work harder, resulting in higher fuel consumption.

In the dog days of summer, it’s understandably hard to roll down the windows, relying solely on the warm outside air to cool you down. If you can’t take the intense temperatures, at the very least, have the air condition refrigerant level and pressure checked to ensure the A/C is working efficiently.

Tips for keeping cool in your car (other than air conditioning)

The urge to cool off your car before getting inside usually proves futile until you actually get moving since car systems are designed to work with natural airflow achieved by driving. Rather than making use of air conditioning, rolling down the windows will initiate the proper airflow through your vehicle as it begins to cool down. Some question the efficiency of keeping the windows cracked due to the increase of aerodynamic drag. However, while it’s true that air will flow better with the windows closed while highway driving at higher speeds, driving around town with windows down will not negatively affect aerodynamics.

If rolling down your windows isn’t an option, handyman Bob Vila suggests parking in the shade to keep your car interior cool. Seat covers, cool drinks, and a cooling towel are also good ways to beat the heat without turning on the A/C.

How to make your vehicle more environmentally friendly

In addition to avoiding air conditioning, what else can you do to make your car more environmentally friendly?

According to Sustainable America, “Keeping your tires filled correctly improves safety, decreases tire wear, saves money, and decreases pollution. Fuel efficiency is reduced by 1% for every 3.0 PSI that tires are below recommended levels. This means that the average driver can save at least $65 a year on gas and save 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere just by keeping their tires properly inflated.”

Excess cargo can also lead to lower fuel efficiency, so try lightening the load that may be stacking up in your trunk or back seat. Additionally, keep an eye on the temperature gauge. An improperly working radiator and cooling system can cause a vehicle to overheat. Meanwhile, a clogged fuel filter or faulty fuel pump can also cause your vehicle to consume more gasoline, increasing its reliance on fossil fuels. It’s recommended that you bring your vehicle in for routine maintenance every 30,000 miles.

Lastly, consider the way you drive. If you are aggressive and accelerating often, your car is burning more fuel than necessary. Avoid idling and use cruise control on highways to ensure a steady and comfortable pace.

So, while you might not have the newest electric vehicle, there are several things you can do with your gas guzzler to reduce your visits to the pump while staying environmentally friendly.


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