I’ve noticed a lot of drivers recently tell how they turn off the air conditioner to gain extra range, this stems from a misunderstanding of how much energy a Tesla HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioner) consumes under various conditions. It’s only if you’re driving in areas north of Geraldton or east of Merredin that you should be concerned with energy consumption (or if you’re paying insanely high electricity prices). In the city and suburbs crank up the cooling or heating and enjoy that car.
As virtually all country areas in Western Australia that may require some energy conservation are warmer areas, I’ll stick to discussing HVAC cooling.
So why not turn off the HVAC cooling or open the windows?
Driving an aerodynamic vehicle with the windows open above 40-50kmh is a backward step, more energy will be consumed from poor aerodynamics than an air conditioner would normally consume, the faster you drive the bigger the difference.
Driving a long distance in a car with a hot interior is not worth it unless the situation is desperate, besides the safety risk of possibly losing concentration, you’re also reducing the enjoyment of driving a Tesla.
When cooling the amount of energy the HVAC consumes depends on a couple of factors; how low a temperature the HVAC is set too, the interior and outside air temperature and often lastly but often overlooked; how long the car has been sitting in the full sun before switching on the HVAC, a significant part of the heat absorbed by the cars bodywork will transfer through to the interior adding to the task of cooling the inside air.
How to get the best range while still using the HVAC cooling.
- Try and park the car under shade before departure, this could save 10-15kms of range over a 350km trip.
- Pre cool the interior whilst the car is still charging, on AC charging this may reduce the charge speed but getting extra distance covered is more important than the few extra minutes it may take.
- Set the thermostat higher, you may enjoy being spoilt with a 20C interior around the city but 23C over a long drive is better than no cooling at all.
- Drop 5kmh- If the choice is drive at 100kmh with no HVAC cooling or 95kmh with cooling the 95kmh journey is going to be far more enjoyable, besides driving at 95kmh only makes the 350km trip 11 minutes slower.
Over the long term as DC fast chargers are installed in WA country areas reducing most trips to below 250kms the above advice will no longer be applicable, but in the meantime stay cool and enjoy that car.