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Getting Better MPG by Painting the Car White

May 29th, 2009 by Steven Gardner

One of the items posted in the Kitsap Reader was also discussed on radio talk shows Thursday. In at least one place it was regarded with hysterical derision, given the host’s certainty that man has nothing to do with climate change. Obama’s Secretary of Energy suggested white roofs as a way to save on energy costs. White roofs, he said, reflect heat, while darker roofs absorb it, causing temperatures inside to increase, and occupants inside to rely more on air conditioning.

Now California is considering applying the same thinking to automobiles. At least one columnist thinks it’s hooey.

You can read the California Air Resources Board report on the idea by downloading this PDF.

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7 Responses to “Getting Better MPG by Painting the Car White”

  1. WildcatComputers Says:

    Since most people in Western Washington do not have air conditioning, it would make more sense for us to have black roofs. This way we would save energy in the winter by absorbing the sun’s energy. We should also require everyone to line the inside of their homes and businesses with aluminum foil in the winter to reflect our body heat. We could then reuse that foil in the summer by placing it on our roofs. We will also need to issue sunglasses to everyone so they are not blinded by the overwhelming glare.

  2. Colleen Smidt Says:

    Boy, I will really be pondering this one on my way home in my black convertible with the top down using the most natural air conditioner there is…a nice breeze while still managing to average 30 mpg.

  3. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    Actually, white does reflect heat but the reason we’ve had white vehicles for years is the sight factor.

    White, at one time, was supposed to be the most visible color for cars….and the one place I want to be driving on roads is inside a easily seen car.

    I wouldn’t own a dark colored car – unless, perhaps, it was as fancy as Colleen’s convertible…but probably not even then.

    How easy is it to see one driving on one of our all too frequent ‘grey’ days…. or while driving in fog or heavy rain?

    The smart folks drive with their headlights on day and night.

    The only time a white roof might pay off is in a year around hot climate… that lets Washington out.
    In my opinion… Sharon O’Hara

  4. Kathryn Simpson Says:


    Kathryn Simpson

  5. Jim C. Says:

    As cold as it has been during the non-summer times, I think I will keep my dark roof.

  6. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    Sharon O’Hara

  7. Jim C. Says:

    Neat study Sharon.

    Thats it. I am painitng my roof white to avoid getting hit by a car!

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