Friday, October 19, 2012

David on how to cut America's energy consumption.

As I promised in my last post I am going to make a couple of suggestions for reducing the amount of energy that we use - with a minimum of bother or inconvenience or expense.

The easiest and cheapest way to accomplish that by is conservation.

Now wouldn't you think that with a name like conservation - about as close as you could get to Conservative - that would be the Conservatives area of expertise? But you couldn't be further from the truth. Conservation is the last thing on the mind of a Conservative. Presumably that is because conservation is somehow synonamous with Liberal!

If we spent half of what is being spent by Democrats and Republicans, to smear the names of their opposite numbers, on educating the American public on ways to use less energy we could cut our energy use by 10% to 20% with no trouble at all.

Just by explaining that a vehicle sitting idling does not do so without using any gas! Or by suggesting that we use our smallest most economical vehicle when there is only one or two, or even 3 or 4 people making the trip. Or by explaining that every time you accelerate hard or you brake you are wasting gas. Or by suggesting that your next car be one that is small and economical, we could EASILY cut 10% to 20% of of the amount of gas that we use.

If we also explained that by using less gas we would have more money in our pockets to spend on other things . . . !

A small car that gets 30 mpg or so uses 2 ounces of gas a minute while idling, a medium sized car getting an mpg in the low 20's uses about 3 ounces per minute and a large SUV or Pick Up uses around 4 ounces of gas a minute while idling. So, sitting in your SUV waiting 15 minutes for your child to come out of school with the engine running uses 15 times 4 oz = 60 ounces of gas, almost a half a gallon!!! For nothing! Doing nothing except dirty the air that you and your child have to breathe! And putting money into the pockets of those that hate us! And which they can then use to buy arms and make bombs to further hurt us.

Most Americans could easily save a gallon of gas a day, many of us probably a lot more.

Instead of leaving my car to "Warm up" for a few minutes, I drive off right away - the recommended thing to do by car manufacturers. If I go to my bank drive through I shut off my engine while doing my transaction - usually 5 minutes or so - thus saving between 10 and 20 oz of gas, depending on my vehicle. I see people leaving their car running while they go into the 7-11 to get coffee and cigarettes, and to talk about how expensive gas is! I see them sitting at the kerb waiting for their spouse who just went into the supermarket to pick up a few things, or to use the bathroom, or to try on the latest fashion item in Sears or The Gap, all the time with the engine running.

At any one time there are millions of vehicles sitting idling, polluting the air, emptying their owners wallets and making some Arab richer!

Moving on to our efforts to reduce energy use. Julia and I reckon that we easily use half, or less, than most families in our day to day energy use. Possibly 1/3 or even 1/4 as much!

How do we accomplish that?

Well for one thing we drive a Prius, in which we get 56 mpg - four times the mileage of your average large SUV or PU that gets 14 mpg - That means 1/4 the gas use! Actually we use even less because we try to plan our trips carefully. Also we don't leave our vehicle idling. (We can't even if we want to because the engine automatically shuts off when the car stops, even at traffic lights! Further saving gas.)

We also have Geo Thermal heating and A/C. That uses a little more than half the energy of what the conventional heating and cooling system uses.

We also have Solar Hot Water. So we spend almost nothing for hot water. Quite a savings,

We also have a 6KW Solar Electric system. Cutting the cost of our electricity considerably.

We also have a woodstove, thus once agin cutting the cost of our heating.

And we are carefull in our use of all our resources. We keep our A/C set at 80 degrees in summer, turning it down to 78 if we have visitors. We set our heat at 68 in winter, but our living area is usually warmer due to the woodstove.

I just know that you are dying to say, "You must be rich, there is no way that "regular" people like us could afford to do that." But the fact is that there are very few people more "Regular" than us. Almost certainly you earn more than we do. Most people do. In fact almost anyone could do what we have done.

Start with the Prius. The average person drives 15,000 to 20,000 miles per year. If you drive an SUV that gets 14 mpg and drive 20,000 miles you will use more than 1420 gallons of gas which at $3.80 a gallon will cost you around $5,400. (I contend that most people who drive large SUV's or PU's use more than that because they don't plan their driving as carefully as we do and because they let it idle more than we do.) 20,000 miles in my Prius uses 357 gallons, which at $3.80/ gallon costs me $1356 or more than $4000 LESS than the SUV or big PU driver!

Over 10 years that is more than $40,000, or enough right there to do all the energy saving things that I just listed - just by driving a Prius! That is just doing one thing. It doesn't take into account any other savings. For example if your next car was a Prius, or similar, car you could install a hot water solar unit just from your first year savings in gas use! (Not to mention putting less CO2 and other pollutants into the air.) So with virtually no cost for hot water you would be saving EVEN MORE! And by turning the A/C up and the heat down (Take off clothes in summer and add sweaters in winter) you save even more. Within a couple of years you should have enough to "Go Solar". And when your heating system goes up replace it with a Geo Thermal system too which costs a little more initially but saves money, and energy, every day thereafter. (Again not to mention reducing air pollution and our dependance on foreign oil and our need to send our children off to war to fight for oil and to lose limbs and lives. All that just by being sensible AND saving money too!)

I could probably go on for pages and pages with similar ideas. In fact I know that I could. But here is just one more. If all cars had an instant display showing gasoline use at that very moment, the Prius and several other cars already do, we could save even more gas. A Jaguar that I owned more than 20 years ago had a display that showed the mpg at that very second, so I could see that if I stomped on the gas the mpg would drop to like 2 or 3 mpg - really! - and when I let up on the gas and just accelerated gently or took my foot off the gas and cruised along it would go up to say 15 mpg (It was not a very economical car!) but just like in the Prius you can see instantly - which is the way we all like to do things nowadays, right? - just what our mpg is.
I find it quite energising, even exciting, to see my mpg at at 100 plus as I go downhill or at 50 mpg plus as I cruise at a sensible speed on the flat. Just knowing what your mpg is at any given time would save gas. Well it does for me anyway. Maybe a $ sign getting bigger and bigger as you do "Bad" things would bring the cost of using more gas home to some people? And having the engine stop even when I stop at a traffic light! Wow that is almost sexual! I ALMOST enjoy sitting in a traffic jam now, with my engine safely in "Using NO gas mode" while the Big Pick Up next to me is going Boom, Boom, Boom as it idles, and RRRRR, RRRRR, RRRRR as its owner revs up in frustration, sucking up that gas!

There are dozens more ideas for saving energy that I could tell you. Well, probably hundreds!

Wouldn't it be great to say to Ahmadinajab, or Prince Fatso, or Mohammad Whatsit, "Fuck off drink your oil and eat your sand"?

Just saying.