A question that always comes to mind as those inevitable warmer days start to roll in. Whether you’re cruisin’ solo or you have the whole clan in the car, you may be wondering if putting the air conditioning on or opening a window will keep you at a more comfortable temperature.
Whether you’re going on a long road trip (check out our road trip bucket list for inspiration) or just driving to the office, some days you will get into a stuffy car. You’ll want to cool it down promptly; and as the sun continues to beat down, you’ll want to keep it cool. So, let’s find out whether whacking on the air conditioning or rolling down your car windows is your best bet...
First Up: Air Con On?
Firstly, your in-car air conditioning unit is a far cry from the vision of a vintage convertible cruising down a sun-beaten coastal road in July. Air conditioning feels somewhat artificial to some, and those people may prefer to feel the wind in their face on a sunny day. Especially if you’re taking the scenic route, windows open may be just what you need to enjoy your drive to the fullest. However, this doesn’t detract from the air con and its general functionality.
Air Con Is Functional & Reliable
One of the best features of the air con is its ability to reduce the inside temperature of your car very quickly. This makes it a good option for a quick drive, perhaps to the office or the supermarket. If you’re looking for what will cool you down the quickest, air con is usually your best option.
There are some factors to consider when discussing the reliability of air conditioning. The speed and efficiency of your in-car air conditioning depend on your car’s make and model, and the overall quality of its air-con system. Usually, your air conditioning will make you feel cooler far quicker than having your windows rolled down, and the cooler environment is significantly more chilled and maintainable. However, this all depends on how well your air con works. For example, it is often something that slips buyers’ minds but checking how well a car’s air-conditioning system works before leasing a new vehicle is always a good idea (to avoid an endlessly stuffy car!).
Air Con Reduces Noise
If you’re one of the many people whose ears don’t enjoy having the windows open at high speeds – join the club. Although there may be the occasional driver who likes having the wind in their hair, most will opt for an air-conditioned car on the motorway. Furthermore, that sound that the windows make when you’re going fast (you know the one) might drown out the new podcast you’ve been waiting for, or even calls on the hands-free. If you need an environment with reduced noise in your car, opt for air con, and for further info about car noise factors head to our dedicated guide.
Air Con Helps In Traffic Jams
Traffic is unavoidable on the road. You’re guaranteed to get stuck in traffic from time to time, and one of those days may be a hot one. If you’re sitting in stationary traffic as the sun beats down on your forehead, you may find yourself feeling hot, sweaty and dehydrated: not fun! As the car isn’t moving, a minimal breeze will be coming through the windows – therefore, rolling them down isn’t likely to do much in this scenario. If you want to cool down while you wait, whack on the air conditioning for a comfier experience.
Next: Windows Down?
The alternative to air conditioning is rolling your windows down. There are some pros to opening the windows and some cons. Air conditioning has a significant cooling effect, so the competition is tough, however, feeling the breeze through the car windows has some perks! They span from saving money to saving the planet. Let’s discuss.
Rolled-Down Windows Are More Economical
One of the most immediate benefits of choosing to roll down your windows, rather than use your air con, is that it is more fuel efficient. This has some benefits, including being more economical than its alternative. If you want to save some money, roll down your windows as you drive through the city.
For the most part, your car’s air conditioning system will increase your petrol or battery drain and it is worth bearing in mind that the hotter the day, the harder your air-con has to work to keep your car cool. If you want to splash less cash on gas, roll down a window or 2 instead. However, a general rule of thumb is that when your vehicle starts to move around at speeds above 45mph, having your windows open can increase drag. This will slow your car down, causing it to need more petrol to run. The best course of action is to roll your windows down on slower roads. However, this doesn’t mean to say that rolled-down windows will completely sap your petrol tank or battery, but there is an impact of aerodynamic drag to consider.
Windows Are More Eco-Friendly
The less air con you are using, the more eco-friendly your car will be. You often won’t be consuming as much petrol and that is a good thing for the environment and your bank balance. In-car air-con systems have had a bad reputation in the past for being severe pollutants, however modern changes to their design have let us wave goodbye to them creating any serious ozone-depleting substances. Their newer design is more environmentally friendly than in the past. Despite this improvement, opting for rolled-down windows on slower roads is best for our big green planet!
Windows Bring The Vibes
Last but not least, there’s an unbeatable vibe to taking the scenic route, tunes blasting, with the breeze blowing through your open windows. Whether you’re off on a camping trip or just passing through the views, rolled-down windows might just beat air con. Some people drive cars for that reason alone. For example, convertible drivers often chase the sun. If you don’t like being closed off from the great outdoors on a beautiful day, roll down your windows!
Do We Have A Winner? Air Con On Vs. Windows Rolled Down
It seems that air conditioning is functional, reliable and efficient. Despite it often being less economical than rolling down the windows, certain journeys seem to require a big blast of cold air through a grate. You’ve just done your hair for a big event and the last thing you want is a windy car. Also, if your journey is too short for the breeze from rolled-down windows to even make a difference, they aren’t the right commodity to use.
Yet these examples do acknowledge that rolled-down windows have cooling properties in their own right, although they may sometimes be less convenient or time-efficient. However convenient air conditioning may seem, your car windows will undoubtedly pull fresh air through your vehicle on a hot day if you give it the opportunity.
Looking for your next cruise-worthy car to drive on those summer days? Browse our car leasing page to find your next ride.