Cool your fanny, increase fuel mileage

Don’t worry about spending more cash to equip your next ride with air-cooled seats.

Like hybrid cars, chances are those chilled chairs could pay for themselves in a few years.

According to recent U.S. Department of Energy research at the National Renewable Energy Lab, tests show that because ventilated seats deliver cool air to such a large contact area (and with close proximity), drivers are less likely to turn on a vehicle’s air conditioning system. This, in turn, increases a car’s fuel efficiency by decreasing air conditioner compressor use.

The DOE says car seats that do not have a cooling feature actually act as a thermal insulator, increasing skin temperatures and reducing evaporative cooling of sweat. Relying on an air conditioner to dial down a driver’s body temperature, however, can cause a vehicle’s fuel economy to drop by up to 24 percent.

On a national scale, researchers say if all passenger vehicles were equipped with ventilated seats, there could be a 7.5 percent reduction in air-conditioning fuel use.