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Blowing hot air – five air conditioning myths and top tips on how to keep cool this summer

posted on 23/08/2023
Blowing hot air – five air conditioning myths and top tips on how to keep cool this summer

As temperatures across the UK continue to climb, Škoda is offering advice on how to stay cool in your car this summer and helps debunk five air conditioning myths.

According to UK Health Security Agency data, the hottest years on record have all occurred since 2002, with temperatures soaring to more than 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in 2022, and the number of heat-related deaths per year expected to triple by 2050.

With exceedingly high temperatures already recorded in June 2023, motorists should be aware of the effects heat can have on their cars as well as their bodies. Scienifically, temperatures can cause slower reaction times, with nausea, dizziness, headaches and fatigue widely felt from an increase in core body temperature. The British Nutrition Foundation details how a drop in bodyweight of just 2% in water can lead to impaired cognitive and physiological responses, with symptoms such as a headaches or fatigue occuring.

What can drivers do?

Lowering the cabin temperature of a car by using the air conditioning will help reduce tiredness and improve concentration levels. Škoda rigorously tests its air conditioning systems, using four climate chambers that can create temperatures between -40 and 60 degrees Celsius. As part of its testing programme, vent location and interior aerodynamics are thoroughly analysed to ensure cool or warm air can pass effectively, quickly and quietly throughout the cabin for maximum comfort. By maintaining a steady and relatively low in-car temperature, drivers are less likely to sweat and become dehydrated.

But will some motorists skip the air conditioning because it uses too much fuel, or because they’re worried it will have an adverse effect on their overall health? Škoda UK is on hand to bust five common misconceptions about the technology.

1. Using the air conditioning ruins your fuel economy

While employing your air conditioning system will increase fuel consumption in internal combustion engine cars and battery use in electric vehicles, the consumption penalty isn’t as harsh as people may think. This is because the car uses a compressor to run the system which requires energy from an engine or motor.

According to the Energy Trust, drivers can expect to see up to a 5% drop in fuel efficiency when driving with the air conditioning switched on, but other factors, such as under-inflated tyres, driving at higher speeds, a packed boot, or a bike rack/roof box attached to the car, can similarly impact fuel efficiency.

2. Air-conditioning can be bad for your health

Turning on a car’s regular air fan to simply circulate air rather than engaging the air-con can have a negative impact on the system and, potentially, the vehicle occupants. Air-con units de-humidify the air passing through them, which in turn prevents the build-up of moisture in the cabin and also the air conditioning system itself. Failure to use air-con for an extended period of time can lead to the growth of mould or fungus in the system, which can then be circulated once it has been turned on again. Regular use, combined with proper maintenance, can prevent this.

Additionally, maintaining a steady and cool cabin temperature on a hot day can prevent drowsiness and improve driver concentration levels, as well as keeping other passengers and pets comfortable and healthy. Škoda’s Climatronic Air Care system in the Enyaq, Karoq, Kodiaq, Octavia and Superb, uses a suite of sensors that monitors air quality and, if necessary, responds by automatically activating the air recirculation function; catching fine dust particles, preventing allergens from entering the interior, and absorbing unpleasant odours.

3. Air conditioning is a luxury

Air conditioning is standard in every Škoda model, from the Fabia to the Scala, Enyaq to Octavia.

Drivers of the all-electric Škoda Enyaq can enjoy remote air-con via the Škoda Connect app, with the ability to pre-set the car to a desired temperature prior to getting in and setting off on a journey.

4. Air-conditioning doesn’t need to be on when it’s cool

When summer comes to an end it’s important not to simply stop using air-con completely, as there are a number of key benefits. Not only will it prevent the build-up of fungus in the air conditioning system itself, but the dehumidifying effect of air-con will continue to be of benefit as occupants enter a vehicle with rain-soaked or snow-covered clothing.

Regularly using the air conditioning system has other benefits, specifically it keeps the system in a good physical condition. Air conditioning systems are sealed systems, with air-con compressors and seals lubricated by oil. Failing to switch on the air-con means no lubrication, which can cause the compressor to be less efficient and the seals to dry out.

5.You shouldn’t have the air-con on when starting your car

Modern car electronics are both more resilient and can deal with greater levels of demand and stress than those of vehicles from decades gone by, which is where this myth emerged.

With modern ignition systems, stop-start technology and electric vehicles, there’s no cause for concern when starting a car with the air-con switched on.

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