As the temperature drops, everyone’s bills begin to rise. Of course, energy bills go up as many try to avoid the frosty outdoors. But have you noticed an uptick in how much you spend on fuel for your vehicle in winter?
The freezing weather (20 degrees F) can drop a car’s gas mileage by about 12 percent when compared to normal performance at 77 degrees, according to a study done by FuelEconomy. For shorter trips, it can drop as much as 22 percent.
How does the weather affect fuel consumption?
There are multiple reasons fuel economy is reduced in frigid conditions. One reason is that the friction from the icy conditions can make it more difficult for a vehicle’s engine to perform. It’s also more difficult on engines if you work in an area that requires your vehicle to plow through the fluffy white stuff.
Much like how we desperately wait for a vehicle’s heating unit to warm up in the cold, the engine itself requires a warm-up to get to a point where it’s at peak performance. That takes time — and fuel — for the car to get to that point.
But hybrids will be okay, right?
Actually, the same study done by FuelEconomy showed hybrids can have their fuel economy reduced by as much as 34 percent when the weather is below freezing, compared to the vehicle’s normal performance. The main reason hybrids do worse is the computer that monitors fuel economy can see a drop off in performance due to freezing temperatures. Hybrids also suffer from the issues a conventional vehicle faces in the frigid conditions. Basically, the same system that helps your fuel consumption in a hybrid may be its downfall in the cold.
The human factor
There are driving habits that can burn up fuel as well. Turning on a vehicle and waiting half an hour for it to heat up, of course, will burn up fuel. Idling has been proven to have a mileage of zero miles to the gallon.
However, there are some other factors we might not even consider. The more trips a vehicle has to make in a day will take its toll during the winter. Each time a car is shut off and subsequently turned back on it requires energy to do so and that, of course, is gasoline.
So what can be done to avoid frequent trips to the pump while the weather outside is frightful?
Plan trips to avoid unnecessary stops. The more you fire up the engine (especially if the engine sits for a while and gets cold), the more precious energy it takes to get the vehicle going. Try to get everything done in one go, if possible, and try to reduce the total distance traveled per trip.
Check the tires. The weather can have a strain on the air in a vehicle’s tires because cold, dense air causes the tire pressure to drop below an efficient level.
Don’t let the pedal hit the metal. The more accelerating drivers do the quicker fuel is burned up. Each time the engine revs up it’s like tossing a few nickels of gas money out the driver-side window.
At Actsoft, we unfortunately can’t control the weather, but we can help you be efficient despite the conditions. We can help monitor driver habits and make sure drivers aren’t needlessly accelerating or breaking hard on the snowy streets. We can make sure the money Jack Frost is trying to take from you stays in your pocket rather than being lost to the icy roads.
Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?
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