I decided to try a little experiment. I just finished it in fact. The experiement was to drive a little bit slower and see if it had a noticable impact on my gas mileage (and thus on my wallet). Almost all of my driving in my car is on the highway to and from work. I tend to drive just a wee bit fast, so there was plenty of room for me to “slow down” and still not annoy anyone on the highway.
I drove my car until it was on fumes. Then I fueled it up. My car has a 12 gallon tank, and i usually get 300 miles out of it (that’s 25mpg). At $4.00/gallon for gas, that’s $48 to fill up the tank.
Flash forward to about two weeks later. My car is on fumes again and guess what – the trip meter was showing 330 miles. Which means i got a 10% increase in gas mileage. That’s 27mpg. Or another way to look at it is that at $4.00/gallon, i just saved $0.40 per gallon of gas, effectively giving me me gas at $3.60.
Let’s look at it another way. I drive approxmiately 20 miles each way to work, or 40 miles round trip. Assume that i drive in to work around 200 days a year (sounds about right after you factor in weekends, holidays, working from home, etc..). That’s 8000 miles. At $4.00/gallon on my old gas mileage (25mpg), that would be 320 gallons of gas, or $1,280. Assuming the new gas mileage (27mpg), that would be 296 gallons of gas, or $1,184. Giving me a total savings of: $96.00.
So the question becomes: Is it worth it for me to drive agonizingly slow every day, adding about 5 minutes to my commute each way in order to save $100/year?
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Any of the things talked about in here can be looked up on your favorite search engine. Feel free to verify. I’m just going to ramble on for a bit.Today i read an article that talked about a company in California who has genetically altered e-coli bacteria so that it can eat bio waste such as woodchips, corn stalks, sugar cane, etc.. (pretty much anything you want to throw at it, they can genetically manipulate it to use that as the food source). Anyway, the little bugs grow in large vats eating this stuff, and they poop out crude oil! How cool is that? And the net carbon emission is negative – they suck more crap out of the air than they produce. Very green indeed. The company spokesman said that they think they can get to commercial scale production levels within a few years and produce a barrel of oil for around $50. Another benefit of this is that no existing infrastructure need be changed. Your car and the gas stations and pipelines all continue to work unmodified. SwiftFuel. Along similar lines is a new type of gas being developed for the airline industry – but that could be easily adapted for the auto industry. It doesn’t use bugs, but it is a way to create a gas alternative that is around 15% more efficient than gas, costs WAY less, has a net carbon emission of 0, and wouldn’t require any infrastructure changes whatsoever. And it can be mass produced for a final sale price around $3.00/gallon. Another algae based gas solution which feeds off of waste products and produces a gas-like substance is here. Didn’t read much on this but have heard of it before. … Hell, speaking of things i’ve heard of, i remember watching a pbs show (or discovery or who knows…) years ago talking about a guy who had modified his car to run on fermented apple juice. He had an orchard out back. I just hope he didn’t drink all his gas on friday nights. Other things include fuel cell cars that run on hydrogen. These are being introduced in a small scale in parts of California soon. California is the only place in the USA that has hydrogen fueling stations (3 at that…). If they catch on, however, the infrastructure will build out i’m sure. And let’s not forget full-on electric cars. Of course, you have to plug them in, and that power comes from somewhere … most likely coal burning plants. But there’s enough coal in the USA to last for hundreds if not thousands of years at current consumption levels. Too bad it produces all that smoke. But we don’t have to burn coal. Spanish Fork just put up a network of massive windmills at the mouth of the canyon. I read an article last month that talked about how large windfarms around the country could easily supply 20% of all our energy needs. Other innovative energy solutions are using ocean-power. Specifically they use the up and down motion of waves to act like pistons in a huge engine and pumps power onto land. Or you put a huge pipe deep into the ocean and the temperature differential causes a breeze to blow up the pipe, which turns a fan, and produces power; i.e. a constant wind source. The venerable solar panel is constantly getting more efficient and less costly. You could put miles and miles of these out in the deserts and collect huge amounts of power. Some people have even suggested using the breeze generated by passing cars on the highway to turn fans and generate electricity. And back to oil.
Colorado and Utah have as much oil as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Angola, Algeria, Indonesia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates combined.
There are massive oil shale fields in desolate desert areas that, if mined, could produce all the worlds oil needs for hundreds of years at current consumption levels. And it could be done for $30/barrel. Large oil companies like Shell and Exxon are looking into mining up to several hundred thousand barrels a day from these fields (although it will take up to a decade to get everything in place — too long, perhaps. Other technologies may overtake them by then).I could go on, but you get the point. I guess what i’m trying to say is that people are finally at the ‘fed up’ point with our current energy supply mechanisms (mostly due to economic reasons at the pump), and are looking for change. Change is in the air. I think the tide is coming in and foreign oil won’t be able to keep a stranglehold for much longer.