U.S. Light-duty Vehicle Air Conditioning Fuel Use and the Impact of Four Solar/Thermal Control Technologies

John Rugh, Bidzina Kekelia, Cory Kreutzer, Eugene Titov

Research output: NRELPresentation


The U.S. uses 7.6 billion gallons of fuel per year for vehicle air conditioning (A/C), equivalent to 5.7 percent of the total national light-duty vehicle (LDV) fuel use. This equates to 30 gallons/year per vehicle, or 23.5 grams (g) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile, for an average U.S. vehicle. A/C is a significant contribution to national fuel use; therefore, technologies that reduce A/C loads may reduce operational costs, A/C fuel use, and CO2 emissions. Since A/C is not operated during standard EPA fuel economy testing protocols, EPA provides off-cycle credits to encourage OEMs to implement advanced A/C technologies that reduce fuel use in the real world. NREL researchers assessed thermal/solar off-cycle credits available in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Final Rule for Model Year 2017 and Later Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy. Credits include glazings, solar reflective paint, and passive and active cabin ventilation. Implementing solar control glass reduced CO2 emissions by 2.0 g/mi, and solar reflective paint resulted in a reduction of 0.8 g/mi. Active and passive ventilation strategies only reduced emissions by 0.1 and 0.2 g/mi, respectively. The national-level analysis process is powerful and general; it can be used to determine the impact of a wide range of new vehicle thermal technologies on fuel use, EV range, and CO2 emissions.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages45
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePresented at SAE 2017 Thermal Management Systems Symposium, 10-12 October 2017, Plymouth, Michigan

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5400-69047


  • A/C fuel use
  • mobile air conditioning
  • national-level analysis
  • off cycle credit
  • thermal load reduction


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