Many motorists simply turn the air conditioning system on and off without giving a second thought to how it works. This brings the risk of misuse, which will lower the efficiency and/or lifespan of your air-conditioning system and leave you stewing in the heat. With a few simple tricks up your sleeve, however, you can improve your AC efficiency and reduce its fuel consumption and keep it operational for longer. Read on to find out more.
Find a shady spot
First, reduce the AC's work where you can by finding a shady parking spot, especially if you'll stop for a long time. This may not always be possible, but you can improve your chances by getting there early to secure the shaded slots (at work or the mall). Consider the sun's movement during the day: you can pick a sunny slot in the morning knowing that the spot will be shaded in the afternoon when the sun is hottest. Otherwise, invest in windscreen shades to keep as much of the heat out of your car as possible.
Open doors and windows first
If your car is boiling by the time you get to it after a long hiatus in the sun, don't just drive off immediately. Instead, open your doors and windows and allow the car to be ventilated. After this, drive for a short distance with your windows open before turning on the AC. Making a series of turns in quick succession can help to shoo out the hot air and allow in fresh, cool air due to the inertia effect.
Turn on the AC at low
Just like you wouldn't like to be woken up and told to hold an important conversation or do something right then, you need to give your AC time to warm up. If you have an automated AC system, you'll notice it comes on at Low mode, gradually picking up speed as you go. For manual ACs, you can achieve the same effect by adjusting the blower/fan and temperature modes to low.
Recirculation mode saves fuel
Once you have the air inside your car at the temperature you want, keep the car cool by turning up your windows and setting the AC to recirculation mode. In this mode, the AC won't be sucking in warm outside air and cooling it before allowing it into the cabin. The system will simply recirculate the cool air on the inside, working less hard and using less fuel in the process.
Turn down slowly
Just like you turn the AC on slowly, don't just turn off your engine once you get where you're going with the AC running. Turn the AC off a short time before you're due to stop – the car will remain cool for that period so don't worry. Keep the fan working at medium/high speed to dry out the area surrounding the evaporator: have you noticed a puddle under the car when you've packed a while? This occurs because the evaporator is usually very cold, cooling and condensing the hot air that passes near it. Leaving condensed water droplets on the evaporator makes prime ground for moss, mildew, mould and other damp-loving organisms to thrive, and this could affect the way the AC works in future.