Car Air Conditioner

Hybrid Owners, Does Air Conditioning Cut Your MPGs? Tell Us

In May, the people at Emissions Analytics published a study on the negative impact of air conditioning and fuel mileage.

The general premise isn’t a surprise.  You turn the air on, it adds extra load to the electrical system, which adds extra load to the engine, which cuts gas mileage.  We all know that, depending on the general age and maintenance state of your particular engine, it kills economy.  The upside is that you stay cool, and if in maddening traffic, contributes to less road rage.

But until now, I hadn’t seen (truthfully, I hadn’t looked for) a study that measures the impact of A/C.  Until now. Take a look at this:

Impact of Air Conditioning on Gas, Diesel and Hybrid Car MPG

The Emissions Analytics people, based in Los Angeles, looked at data from around 100 hybrid, gasoline, and diesel vehicles.   As you can see, the combined numbers show the anticipated hit on MPG.  But when you break out those numbers, it gets gloomier for the gasoline hybrid.

Air-Con-MPG-Breakout

So turning on the AC when you’re stuck in city traffic means you sacrifice 9.3% of your average mpg.  Eeeek!  Diesel takes a hit as well, but nowhere near as bad.

My question is this: are the fine people at Emissions Analytics on to something?  If you own a gasoline hybrid, do you see your average mpg impacted similarly?  Have you used your fancy-schmancy onboard mpg computer to figure out the impact for yourself?  Or what’s your best guess?

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Sebastian James

sebastian@sebastianwjames.me

Accept no substitutes

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