Skip to main content

Does Aircon Use Fuel? How Much Fuel And How To Save Money

Written on .

Your car's air conditioning is unable to work if the car is shut off, so you may wonder, "does aircon use fuel?" It does, but there are ways to conserve it.

  • Learn
  • General
  • Does Aircon Use Fuel? How Much Fuel And How To Save Money

Does aircon use fuel? Absolutely. Your vehicle's air con (also referred to as air conditioning, climate control, or AC) relies on your car's engine to work. That's because the air con is made up of several moving parts that need energy to function. This energy is drawn from your engine, which, in turn, burns fuel in order to create the necessary power.

As such, all air con systems burn fuel in order to work. Some burn more than others, however, and there are ways to conserve the amount of fuel that's needed to keep your vehicle's cabin cool and pleasant. Let's explore why air con burns fuel, in detail, and how you can make it burn less:

Why Does Air Con Need Petrol?

Inside of your air con system, there is a compressor that holds a gas refrigerant, just like your fridge. As fresh air enters the system, the refrigerant causes the temperature of the air to drop considerably. At this point, the refrigerant turns into a liquid and any impurities are removed.

The liquid then reaches a thermal expansion valve, where the liquid flow can be restricted. This gives you control over the internal temperature of your car. Finally, the liquid is turned into vapour, where it can travel through evaporation coils to be blown through the vents as nicely chilled air. The refrigerant thus returns to a gaseous state and the whole process can be repeated again to provide constant cool air.

The compressor requires energy in order to run. Since it's a vital component, your air con will not function without it, but the system does use a small amount of fuel whenever it's working. This may increase your fuel usage by as much as 10%, and the effects are particularly noticeable on short journeys.

Does Air Con Burn More Energy When It's First Turned On?

A properly maintained air con system will burn energy at a consistent rate. It shouldn't burn more at certain times than others. Instead, what affects how much energy an AC system burns is how long it needs to run.

Most people only turn the air con on when it's uncomfortably warm. If the cabin temperature is high, then the air con must work harder to bring the internal temperature down to a comfortable level. This can make it seem like you burn more fuel right away, or that short trips end up with overly high fuel bills. It's not actually how the air con functions, though; it's how you use it.

Once the car has cooled enough, you can reduce the flow rate, increase the temperature, or turn the air con off altogether. On a long journey, it's unlikely that the air con will need to be blasting the whole way, as you will be maintaining the cool temperatures. In contrast, turning it on and off regularly, or parking the car and allowing the outside temperatures to affect the cabin temperatures, can make fuel consumption more noticeable on a short journey.

How to Save Fuel When Driving

If you're worried about your air con using precious fuel, there are ways to reduce its consumption. Here are the best tips:

Roll Down The Windows

When you first drive your car, open the windows for a few minutes. Doing so will air out the majority of the hot air in the cabin and your AC won't need to work as hard. This won't harm your aerodynamics and add to your fuel consumption if you're going at low speeds. This makes it ideal when driving through towns and cities.

If you're driving on fast roads, however, the additional drag caused by open windows may lead to added fuel costs.

Consistent Use

Instead of waiting until it's extremely hot to turn on your AC, turn it on right away, but keep it at a low level. This will ensure the cabin temperature is maintained in your vehicle, and the air con doesn't need to work harder to bring down excessive temperatures. Even if it's running for longer periods of time, it won't burn as much fuel.

Regular Servicing

Servicing your air con regularly will improve its lifespan and functionality. This should be done every two years to ensure that the system is running efficiently and any lost refrigerant is replaced. When the refrigerant levels drop, the system must work harder to produce the same amount of cool air. This will use more fuel, so a quick trip to Autofusion will help you conserve petrol.