If you’re concerned about the environment, then owning a car is a double-edged sword. Unfortunately, cars are a necessary evil. We live in such a vast country, with many of us often commuting long distances to work or school, and, unless you own or can afford to swap your car for a hybrid, the very vehicle that gives us the freedom to travel, also has one of the biggest negative impacts on the environment.
We all know how fuel pollutes the air we breathe, with motor vehicles generating half of air pollutants, but were you aware that running your car’s AC reduces fuel efficiency by up to 4 miles per gallon? With almost 8kg of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere for every gallon of gas used, this is obviously a major concern to the environment in itself, but the problem with auto air conditioning doesn’t stop there.
The air conditioning in cars used to use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a coolant, but by 1995, in response to the damage CFCs were causing to the ozone layer, these were phased out and replaced with an alternative refrigerant called HFC-134a. Whilst not anywhere near as bad for the environment as CFCs, which are a major cause of the ‘greenhouse effect’, HFCs are still causing problems, eventually introducing highly toxic and environmentally corrosive Hydrogen Fluoride into the air.
How does HFC-134a get into the atmosphere from cars?
Everything under the hood of your car is susceptible to the effects of driving it – heat, cold and vibrations all take a toll and, over time, refrigerant can be lost through seals, hoses and valves, as well as the unit itself. There is no avoiding it, it’s all part of car ownership, but until repairs are made, the gases continue to seep into the environment.
What can I do about it?
Regular vehicle maintenance is important, and leaks will be picked up during vehicle services. However, even if you get your car serviced every six months (most Americans service their cars less than once a year!) if a leak develops the week after your service, you’ll be releasing HFCs into the atmosphere every time you use your AC for the next five months!
The best way to reduce the release of environmentally damaging gases is, obviously, to minimize the use of your AC. But is this at all feasible, especially during summer months where many states reach temperatures in excess of 120°F?
The green solution
There are many ways to reduce the heat in your car during hot weather, including parking in shaded areas such as under trees, against buildings, or next to larger vehicles. Unfortunately, this isn’t so easy when everyone else has the same idea. However, there is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to reduce the heat in your car by up to 90%, as well as block 99% of damaging UV rays – window tint!
What is window tint?
Window tint is a film that’s fitted to your car windows to reduce the amount of heat, sun glare and damaging UV rays coming through the window. Cheaper, basic films are made from dye-infused polyester while top of the range window tints are made with materials like carbon and ceramic. Both products work equally well, but aesthetically, higher end products offer a more showroom like quality.
How much does it cost?
One of the advantages of window tinting is its cost-effectiveness. The price of window tinting can range from as low as $80 for a sedan up to as much as $450, depending on the type and quality you choose, and most experts believe a mid-range tint is sufficient for the average driver. As mentioned before, using your car’s AC can reduce fuel efficiency by anything up to 25%, and, with the price of gas these days, that’s a lot of dollars to burn. By reducing the need to cool your car, window tint increases your auto’s fuel efficiency. The savings to your pocket will, therefore, quickly recoup the cost of the installation, while the savings to our environment will last a long time.
Clodagh Foelster has written many articles on cost-effective ways to ‘go green’. As a mother of five, she encourages eco-friendly habits in her children to help teach the future generation the importance of doing what we can for our planet.