Upcoming heat wave could cost you more at the gas pump

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:31 AM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The Valley News Live First Alert Storm Team is forecasting triple digit temperatures for the upcoming weekend. The heat wave will have more people cooling off in the air conditioning, including blasting the AC while driving.

While turning up the air conditioning in your car may feel great, it could actually hurt your car’s fuel economy costing you more in gas. As gas prices soar nationwide, every penny counts.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports running a car’s AC in extreme heat can reduce its fuel economy by more than 25%, especially on quick errand trips. For a car that averages 30 miles to the gallon, that’s like losing seven and a half miles. If that car has a 16-gallon tank, it could cost you close to $20 at the gas pump.

The U.S. Department of Energy offers these tips to improve fuel economy during a heat wave:

  • Drive with the windows open for a short time before using the AC. Letting hot air out of the cabin first will put less demand on the AC and help your vehicle cool faster.
  • Don’t sit with the AC running before driving. Turn the AC on after you begin to drive or after airing out the cabin. Most AC systems will cool the car faster while driving.
  • Roll the windows down instead of turning on the AC while driving around town.
  • Don’t use the AC more than needed or set the temperature lower than needed.
  • Park in the shade or use a sunshade so that the cabin doesn’t get as hot.
  • For plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, pre-cooling the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend your vehicle’s range. Also, using a warmer temperature setting for the AC will use less battery power.

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