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Reflect the Sun and Keep Your Car Cool

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October 27, 2011

Reflect the Sun and Keep Your Car Cool

By TMCnet Special Guest
Chris Keenan, Green Blog Writer


The sun is a good thing. It is what allows for life, keeps our planet warm, and possibly provides the potential for our energy needs in the future. There is a huge bevy of solar-powered items in the marketplace today, helping make life a bit greener. From solar panels to power our homes, solar-powered garage door openers, and even solar-powered smartphone chargers, the sun has produced a boon of energy for humans to use.

However, the sun is not always our friend. On a hot summer’s day, the sun can be your enemy. Heat is absorbed by our clothes, concrete, and our cars, creating a veritable heat wave especially in our cars.

There is nothing worse than getting into a sweltering car on a hot summer afternoon. Most of us have tried window visors and covers, which can help, but you are still met with a wall of super hot air when you get in your car. This leads you to reach for your air conditioner faster and more often, and when really hot, you are likely to use it at full blast, as well.

However, common sense with a twist is helping to combat this problem, with the potential to make summertime a bit more bearable. The old bit of wisdom about wearing light colors to help stay cool in the summer also applies to one's car. The lighter the color of your car, the less heat will be absorbed. This is not to say that white, silver, or other light-colored cars do not get hot --they do -- but not to the same degree as darker cars. This is called solar reflection.

Research has been shown that white- or silver-shelled cars require the use of less air conditioning than their black-shelled counterparts. The Heat Island Group cites a recent study that showed the difference in internal temperatures between two vehicles of the same model: one in silver, one in black. The silver car had an internal temperature between 9 and 11 degrees cooler than the black model, which is a significant difference.

This study shows that what is true with clothing also proves true with vehicles. Cars in "cooler" colors like white and silver have the ability to reflect more sunlight than their darker counterparts, meaning a cooler internal temperature. A small decision -- the color of one's car -- could make a big impact on the planet. If we all chose cooler cars, we'd use a lot less air conditioning while still being comfortable. In addition, less air-condition usage would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, smog, and a range of other pollutants.

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Edited by Tammy Wolf

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