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Use the A/C or Roll Down the Windows?

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Picture this: You’re out running errands on a sweltering summer afternoon. The sun is beating down on your car, making the metal exterior hot to the touch and turning the inside into a sauna. Should you roll down the windows? Should you crank up the air conditioner? Which option is better for the environment? As it turns out, this one is a trick question.

Whether to run the air conditioner or roll down the windows depends on where you’re driving, and how. While running the air conditioner in your car can decrease fuel efficiency by about 10 percent, rolling down the windows can actually be worse. Driving with the windows open causes wind resistance that creates drag on your vehicle. At speeds of 55 miles per hour or greater, this drag can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent. The solution? At slower speeds, go ahead and roll down the windows. Once you hit the highway, though, put the windows back up and opt for the AC, preferably on the lowest comfortable setting.

What do you think? Share your thoughts.

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1 gerrye { 04.25.10 at 5:33 pm }

In CA we open the windows until it gets very hot. Ususally about June we turn on the fans. However Late June thru Sept we turn on the air. I don’t know about you but 105 degrees is way to hot.

2 Paula Smith { 04.21.10 at 8:44 am }

We live in south Mississippi, and we do roll down the windows for jaunts to town and family memebers houses. However, in the hottest part of summer (which is most of summer) it HAS to be the air conditioner or we MELT. Fall and spring we save a lot of power at home and roll those car windows down, Sadly, though, fall and spring total only about 2 months total for the year!

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