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5 ways to reduce air conditioning usage while you drive

(NC) You'd think Canadians would have had enough of cold air by the time spring and summer roll around but as soon as the mercury starts to climb a little too high, we crank up the air conditioning. We seem to have a penchant for finding the sweet spot of climate control even while driving. Yet did you know that of all the auxiliary power requirements in your vehicle, the air conditioning system uses the most energy and has the single largest negative impact on fuel consumption? It can actually increase it by about 20 per cent when it's on.

The bottom line is air conditioning burns gas, which in turn, causes greenhouse gas emissions. There are some excellent, common-sense ways to reduce air conditioning usage that can save you money at the pumps and keep Mother Nature in your good books.

Turn it off. Think about whether or not you really need that blast of cold air or if rolling down the windows will do while driving in the city.

Reduce, re-use, re-circulate.Consider using the re-circulating function of your a/c system. This requires less energy because your vehicle is not always cooling the outside warmer air.

Go with the flow. Why not use flow-through ventilation for highway driving or open your windows or sunroof while driving in the city.

Don't over air condition. Use the same principle you use for your home a/c. Adjust your thermostat settings. Aim for comfortable, not cold.

Find some shade. Your vehicle will require less cooling from the a/c at start-up if it's parked in a shaded area. If shade is unavailable, use window shades to decrease the heat intake of your vehicle when it's parked. Also, don't use the a/c when first starting your vehicle. Open the windows for the first few minutes to allow the hot air to escape.

With 20 million vehicles on the road in Canada, the potential for fuel and environmental savings is huge. There are some more tips for eco-smart driving on the Natural Resources Canada website at www.vehicles.nrcan.gc.ca.

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