Turn on the air con and save fuel, says Kwik Fit
Devastating news for the nation’s dogs was handed down by Kwik-Fit on July 8; the beloved practice of keeping cool in summer by winding down the car window – essential for tongue-lolling canines wishing to catch the breeze – may actually put a bigger dent in fuel consumption than turning on the air conditioning.
Kwik Fit says that a study of 2003 adults carried out by ICM research indicates some 9.7 million British motorists, or 28 per cent of the national total, opt to turn off their air conditioning and open the window during hot weather. Yet this is false economy – the fast fit network shares that the drag created by the open window can significantly affect a car’s aerodynamics and therefore fuel consumption. While it admits an open window may be a better option in start-stop traffic, Kwik Fit advises drivers to turn of the air conditioning in freely moving traffic as on average an open window decreases fuel efficiency by five per cent. This ‘windows down’ approach could therefore increase the nation’s fuel bill by over £650,0002.
The ICM research shows that motorists in and around Liverpool, Oxford, Edinburgh and London are most likely to keep their windows down and turn off the air conditioning. But those in Manchester, Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield are the biggest air con fans, and it’s in these areas where car windows are most likely to be kept shut.
“With fuel prices higher than ever, it’s understandable that motorists are looking for ways to squeeze every last mile out of their tank,” said David White, customer services director at Kwik Fit. “But they need to be careful that the measures they take are the right ones. Using air conditioning is far more fuel efficient on the open road and a whole deal more pleasant too. Car owners should make sure their air con system is working effectively, and like other parts of the car, this means giving it a regular service to get the best from it. Gas naturally leaks from the system and they need to be re-charged every two years.”