The Air-Con Conundrum

Mon 18th Jul 2022

While Britain faces record temperatures, many motorists are caught in the dilemma of knowing that they need to keep cool, but at the same time worrying about the costs of turning on their air-conditioning.

Those in the know will be aware that switching on the air-con in a car does use more fuel, which is a bit of a headache when petrol and diesel prices are rising almost as fast as the temperatures.

The option to open the window remains, while we can also circulate the air existing in our cars, but the chilled refreshment of air-conditioning remains all so tempting. After all, what’s the point of having air-con installed in our cars if we can’t use it when we need it the most?

So what exactly is the cost of turning on the air-con? Well according to the AA it might be more than you think.

“Air con could add up to 10% to fuel consumption – the effect is likely to be more noticeable on short trips when it’s got to work harder to cool the car in the first place than on longer journeys where it’s just keeping the car cool,” said the AA guidance.


“If you return to a hot car it’s best to open all the windows when you first drive off to clear the hot air before closing them and turning the air con on – the air con won’t have to work so hard and you’ll cool the interior more quickly.


“If you’re really hung up on fuel economy then around town at low speed, driving with the windows open is an option instead of using the air con – but at higher speeds this will cause so much additional drag that closing the windows and using the air con will be the cheaper option.”

The average fuel tank costs approximately £100 at the moment, which means that using your air-con could effectively cost you £10 a turn.