hand reaching for hvac controls in car dashboard

Is Air Conditioning more Fuel Efficient than Rolling Down Windows?

It’s almost summer already, and this little debate is about to start going around again. Is it more fuel-efficient to roll your windows down or blast the A/C when it gets really hot? Some claim A/C burns too much gas to be more efficient, while others swear that the drag created by open windows causes your car to consume more fuel than it would if the A/C was on. The truth is a lot more nuanced, and we can explore it further in this blog post. If you have A/C trouble or window problems, schedule a time to bring your car to Toyota of Vacaville for a service appointment today!

Does Air Conditioning Use Up More fuel?

One thing is clear, no A/C system can cool you down without burning extra fuel. Your A/C system uses a compressor, powered by your car’s engine, to move air past a refrigerant to create the cool air you crave when it gets really hot.

Does Rolling Down your Windows Create Drag?

Yes, rolled-down windows create a lot more drag than when your windows are rolled up, but it changes depending on the design of the car. Some cars suffer a lot more from drag than others, which is why there is no absolute answer that A/C is more or less efficient than rolling down windows.

When is it Better to Roll Down your Windows?

If you drive a large SUV, minivan, truck, or any other heavy vehicle that gets a lot of drag because of the way it is shaped, don’t worry about rolling down your windows on most roads. Your car is used to fighting drag as it is, and it might cool down your interior faster depending on wind speed and direction.

hand in front of air vent in car sunlight and shadow
person sticking arm out window near sunset

When is it Better to Use A/C?

In extremely hot and humid situations, A/C is often better just because it adds cool air instead of just drying the sweat off your body and pushing extra hot air out from inside your car. While Vacaville is often safe from the most intense humidity, A/C can help dry out the interior of your car.

Also, if you drive an aerodynamic car, or a lighter car, fuel efficiency is affected by drag a lot more than on other cars. Air Conditioning might be the better option, especially if you plan to drive on the highway where drag from open windows would be especially powerful.

Ultimately, the answer depends on your situation. Think through the situation and remember how your car behaves in the wind and make the decision for yourself.