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Aerodynamic drag and babies? ‘Cause babies come with a lot of stuff!

I had no idea how much stuff babies come with. Ok, so the actual babies don’t arrive with the stuff, but it’s the stuff you need, or perhaps accumulate, when you have a baby that has me floored. And I think all that stuff is going to have my car crammed.

So is it time to say hello to the roof box and goodbye to fuel efficiency?

Not necessarily.

This brings me back to one of my initial caveats for the fuel efficiency section of the blog  that making radical lifestyle changes or sacrifices is not the answer. Rather, I believe that making some minor adjustments – “baby steps” – can make a difference to how much gasoline you use.  It’s all about using gasoline wisely.

And so, as we shut down the family cabin for the winter, and I look at all we’ve accumulated after a few summer trips, I’m beginning to realize that the ol’ station wagon might not have enough room for the last trip home. After we get the car seat, our knapsacks, baby clothes, dog, dog stuff, food that can freeze, baby carrier backpack, running stroller, jolly jumper, travel playpen all in the car – there might not be enough room for me – which is an issue since the cabin is not winterized. Brrrrr

Roof_rack_post_the_boxEnter the roof box.

The thing about the boxes is, they are a huge drag on fuel efficiency. This “aerodynamic drag” caused by wind resistance results in higher fuel consumption. According to GM,  “an extra 100 pounds in a vehicle could reduce fuel economy by up to two per cent. Items mounted to the exterior of your vehicle (such as bike racks and roof-top carriers) will also increase wind drag, which costs you fuel.”

Another source suggests that “23 per cent of a vehicle’s energy is used to overcome aerodynamic drag.”  Numbers aside, the message is pretty clear, removing unnecessary equipment is an important element in getting good mileage.

The key word is unnecessary. The truth is sometimes we need the roof rack or the box.

Before accumulating all this baby stuff, I used to see vans or wagons loaded with people and stuff and then sometimes there’d be a roof box (or even two) up top. These vehicles were loaded and I’d think, what could they possible need the boxes for? Now I know.

However, for me it’s not a question about having and using these boxes, rather, it’s the driving around town with empty roof boxes we’ve been too busy to remove or we’ve forgotten are there,  that’s the real drag.

So, just a reminder that if you have a roofbox that you don’t use in the winter months, maybe it’s time to take it off and store it in the garage – instead of storing it on your car.

Now, if only I can find a spot in the garage!

Photo credit: locomomo

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