Wanna Maximize Fuel Economy? Part 5

Growing up, I never felt like I fit in with any one group. I was too weird to hang out with preps, I wasn’t geeky enough to hang out with geeks, so I mostly hung out with hippies, although I wasn’t exactly a hippie.

Hippies have many things going for them. They tend to care about the Earth and support Birkenstocks and healthy foods produced locally. They also tend to be more accepting of different people. I enjoyed hanging out with my hippie friends during my adolescence and continue to hang out with them to this day.

I did, however, disagree with some of my hippie friends on one thing – driving highway with windows down. Yes, it’s true that turning on air conditioner will decrease your fuel economy. When the air conditioner is on, the engine works harder, increasing gas consumption by about 20 percent. BUT, driving highway with your windows down will increase the aerodynamic drag of your vehicle, forcing the engine to work harder to keep your car at the current speed, thus burning more gas than if you just ran your air conditioner.

So, please, my hippie friends, don’t burn more gas and hurt the Mother Nature by driving highway with your windows down. At low speed, open windows do not greatly increase your aerodynamic drag, so it is recommended that you turn off your AC and roll down your windows to maximize your fuel economy.

Since we are on the subject, using your heater during cold months has little effect on your gas mileage. The heater draws its temperature from the hot coolant circulating through the heater core, and the fan is the only electricity it uses. The electricity used to run the fan does affect gas mileage, but it is typically negligible.

So, please, my hippie friends, let’s use heater during cold months so that we won’t freeze inside our cars.


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