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michaelskis

Ideas for reducing dependence on gas and petroleum?

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We have recently heard reports that only 1.5% of the gasoline use can be replaced with E-85, and with increasing gas prices I think that it is time for realistic and instant changes to the way that many Americans live. Hopping on a mass transit eco-friendly light rail system with our sack lunch to get to work is not a viable option for most of us. Personally, I have a 45 minute commute each way with limited to no opportunity to car pool.

What are some ways that you would suggest reducing the dependence that America has on gasoline? What realistic changes can you make this week, this month, or this year? Would these changes be realistic? Have you made any changes yet? How can we demand better options from our state and federal legislators whom are quite easy to call up on the phone and express our concerns?

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Smaller cars!!! Give up the SUV at 15mpg and go for a prius or something. What kills me is the Americans out there going "Well, geeze, gas prices are so high and it's cutting into my budget but I refuse to actually offer any constructive solutions and I'll continue to vote for politicians that pay lip service to conservation and alternatives while they dish out billions in tax payer dollars to oil companies so we can increase our consumption"

If you have public transit, use it. If not, try to car pool. If it means finding someone in your neighborhood to carpool with, then break out of your shell and try to meet people.

If that's not possible, then get a smaller car. If that's not possible then reduce your errands trips to places that are close to home and try and get most stuff done in one trip.

In Minnesota, E-85 has become a viable alternative to regular gasoline. The reports out that say that ethanol is completely uneconomical are wrong. When there is no oil left, ethanol won't be so negative anymore.

But, I think above all... people need jobs closer to home. This has been a problem in teh Twin Cities as the residential center of population goes east while the commercial population moves south and west... it confounds me.

Ride your bike to the store! Use your two legs and a heartbeat! Push your legislators to require sidewalks on all new development and dedicated bike lanes. Have them think about taking some money away from oil companies and putting it towards expanding public transit (buses in the short term, more rail in the long term).

There are a million things we could do. WE have to be creative and hold fire up to our legislators' butts to get them to represent us and not oil tycoons with deep pockets.

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I think first off, we need to get everyone to change their attitude towards transportation and our reliance on the automobile. But, it's going to take several small steps before we can start taking large strides. This is what I suggest to start off with...

1. Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained! Not changing the oil regularly, checking air pressure, etc can cause your automobile to underperform and get WORSE gas mileage.

2. Plan you trips to make most efficient use of your automobile. This goes for errand runs as well as cross country travel. Combine as many tasks into errand runs to lessen auto usage.

3. If you have multiple vehicles in your household, try to use the more efficient one as much as possible.

4. Avoiding uneccessary travel during rush hours periods.

5. If your company allows you to telecommute, do it!

6. Make sure your car is as light as possible (in otherwords, if you're carrying a bunch of junk in the trunk, THROW IT OUT! More weight = less mpg.)

7. Get with your neighbors to plan trips to the home improvement store etc, I do this with several neighbors in my subdivision and it's working quite well.

8. When it comes time to trade in the SUV, look at an alternative choice. Crossover vehicles provide many of the same "likes" of SUV's (higher ride, cargo room, safety) while providing better MPG. (I say when it comes time to trade because it still isn't economically feasible for everyone to trade in their SUV's just for better mileage yet.)

9. Carpool to work/eventss as much as feasibly possible. If mass transit is an option, USE IT!

10. Buy locally made goods/services as much as possible.

Most of this stuff is common sense but so may of us don't think about it every time we head out the door. I to have a long commute and travel by car alot with my job (50-60K a year), carpooling and mass transit are pretty much not an option for me but I try to think about several of these recommendations on the weekend and in personal travel.

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Smaller cars!!! Give up the SUV at 15mpg and go for a prius or something. What kills me is the Americans out there going "Well, geeze, gas prices are so high and it's cutting into my budget but I refuse to actually offer any constructive solutions and I'll continue to vote for politicians that pay lip service to conservation and alternatives while they dish out billions in tax payer dollars to oil companies so we can increase our consumption"

If you have public transit, use it. If not, try to car pool. If it means finding someone in your neighborhood to carpool with, then break out of your shell and try to meet people.

If that's not possible, then get a smaller car. If that's not possible then reduce your errands trips to places that are close to home and try and get most stuff done in one trip.

In Minnesota, E-85 has become a viable alternative to regular gasoline. The reports out that say that ethanol is completely uneconomical are wrong. When there is no oil left, ethanol won't be so negative anymore.

But, I think above all... people need jobs closer to home. This has been a problem in teh Twin Cities as the residential center of population goes east while the commercial population moves south and west... it confounds me.

Ride your bike to the store! Use your two legs and a heartbeat! Push your legislators to require sidewalks on all new development and dedicated bike lanes. Have them think about taking some money away from oil companies and putting it towards expanding public transit (buses in the short term, more rail in the long term).

There are a million things we could do. WE have to be creative and hold fire up to our legislators' butts to get them to represent us and not oil tycoons with deep pockets.

It's just not always that simple. Smaller cars, yes, but not necessarily hybrids or Metros. No one wants to sink a lot of money into a vehicle that they can't stand to be seen in (Prius - puke) and have a car that will depreciate in value faster than any other car on the market. I'm not singling the Prius out in that area, because I know nothing of its resale. But there are a lot of cars that are "energy efficient" which don't hold their value. Buying smart is about more than just energy conservation and saving a few miles per gallon... it's also about getting the most bang for your buck and getting the best return you can get in the end. Not to mention, safety has to be a priority as well. A lot of smaller cars are basically death traps when it comes to auto accidents. I do agree with giving up the SUV, though. I've never had a desire to have an SUV, though I have had a desire to get a truck just so I can save some money on delivery charges every time I buy furniture or appliances.

Cycling to the store isn't always a viable option either, as in the case with me. I live off a major state highway which has no shoulder, is only two lanes, and is full of crazy redneck drivers. I'd love to be able to get on my bike and ride anywhere around there, but unfortunately mine sits out in my shed, and hasn't been used at all since I moved out of the city.

Also, living closer to work isn't always an option either. Until I bought the house I'm living in now, I lived in an apartment that was 1 mile from my office. I could have ridden my bike to work, I was so close. That is, if I weren't concerned about my bike getting stolen, which I was. Anyway, I priced homes within a 5-mile radius of my office, and they weren't going to cut it. To the south and east of my office are large, extravagant homes that start at $250,000 and up to over $1 million. One hundred fifty thousand dollars was the most I could buy and still build equity at a decent pace, and I wasn't going to find that anywhere near my office. Just to the north and west of my office are homes that range from $5,000-$50,000 and nothing more. Based on those figures, you can imagine what kind of homes I'm talking about in that area. Around this area there is very little between $50,000 and $250,000, and none of those are ever on the market. I had to go completely outside of the city limits to find a home under $150,000 but was still a good investment. What I paid for my house, here in the city, would have put me in a questionable neighborhood at best. Where I did buy, however, I've never had a single thing to be concerned about.

Anyway, I'm not trying to take issue with your statements, but rather pointing out that these aren't always the best solutions. Maybe there are things I'm overlooking, but I'm open-minded to other opinions or suggestions.

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SBCmetroguy, I disagree with your logic. "I do agree with giving up the SUV, though. I've never had a desire to have an SUV, though I have had a desire to get a truck just so I can save some money on delivery charges every time I buy furniture or appliances."

Not to pick on your opinion, but... Pay for the delivery charge of $25 or even $50 bucks the once every couple years you buy new furniture or a refrigerator and save $500.00 or more a year in gas by driving a smaller car.

My last three cars have been honda civics. The MPG have varied from 32 to 40. I can't fathom paying almost $3.00 a gallon and getting 10 to 15 MPG like so many SUV's get.

The US could double fuel efficiency in a few years by people switching to smaller cars. If people still want gas guzzling 300+ horsepower vehicles, tax the heck out of them so they reflect their true cost on society. JMO...

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The U.S. could double fuel efficiency if we would elect leadership in Washington that had a spine and would stand up to Detroit and Big Oil by doubling CAFE standards. The U.S. lags behind Japan, Europe and even China in fuel efficiency standards. If Japan can require fuel efficiency standards at 2x the U.S. standards in 2006, then we should be able to demand the same standards by 2008. If that means GM and Ford have to stop selling their beloved gas-guzzling SUVs then maybe they will figure out how to be competitive in the car market again.

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The US could double fuel efficiency in a few years by people switching to smaller cars. If people still want gas guzzling 300+ horsepower vehicles, tax the heck out of them so they reflect their true cost on society. JMO...

Smaller cars aren't always an option for all families... even the now "politically incorrect" SUV has a group of users who actually use the vehicle for it's original design. However, there are alternatives to everyone's choice that needs to be considered.

Maybe the government should offer tax breaks as an incentive to consumers to switch from gas guzzling vehicles to more efficient vehicles. But remember, these vehicles are going to be around for LONG time, cars are lasting longer now and if we all went in and traded our SUV's in them the car dealers will turn around and sell them to someone else.

The average age of the American car on the road is 9 years and getting older. Vehicle scrappage rates are declining as cars last longer now and light trucks are also increasing their time on the road. So, we will not see the death or dismissal of the SUV anytime soon.

Not to mention that the average SUV costs $30-$35K now, so even with higher fuel costs, it doesn't make economical sense to run out and trade. How we drive needs to be what we tackle first as that will have the most immediate impact. We then need to ween ourselves over to more efficient makes and models.

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Three things that have always struck me as solutions are these:

1. Diesel engines. GM gave diesels in this country a bad name with POS's like the 350 diesel they pawned off on unsuspecting customers in the late 70's and through the 80's. But diesel engines have a lot of promise. For a given amount of power, they use significantly less fuel to do so; diesel models' fuel economy rivals that of hybrids. Second, their specific power (that is, the amount of power produced for a given displacement) is approaching that of gasoline engines. Not only that, but typically they do so with a ton more torque, which is actually the key number to look at for in-town driving. In fact, BMW's (which I normally hate, but here provide a good example) 1-series' fastest model is actually the diesel-powered model because of its immense torque, and horsepower output comparable to the gassers. Diesels, because they do not rely on a vastly complicated computer control module should be significantly more reliable than Hybrids which have established a track record of higher-than-average maintenance cost. Lastly, diesels could be imported in great numbers from Europe almost immediately, where Hybrid production is still lagging, and diesels do not contain the battery packs that make Hybrids really not such an environmentally friendly choice. In short, I think a modern, direct-injection, common-rail diesel provides a superior choice to hybrids. All we need is the EPA to mandate higher-quality diesel and I think popularity will follow, which itself will be followed by more diesel stations, the lack of which is currently a major drawback.

2. More solar panels on houses. It would be very, very easy to construct houses with solar on the roofs. Not only can you lower your energy bill, but on days where you produce more than you're using, you can pump that power back into the grid for a credit on your bill. Even if you don't save a huge amount of power, it adds up.

3. Sod roofs. My neighbor built his house "underground", and has the lowest energy bill of anybody around, both in summer and winter. Even existing buildings can have a sod roof installed which lowers roof temperatures, and reduces how much heat is reflected back. Many places in NYC are starting to do this over their tar roofs. In urban areas, this could conceivably lower the urban heat effect, thus reducing (however slightly) the energy demands on a hot day.

These are just small things which I think could be done now, and make for a good first step.

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Three things that have always struck me as solutions are these:

1. Diesel engines. GM gave diesels in this country a bad name with POS's like the 350 diesel they pawned off on unsuspecting customers in the late 70's and through the 80's. But diesel engines have a lot of promise. For a given amount of power, they use significantly less fuel to do so; diesel models' fuel economy rivals that of hybrids. Second, their specific power (that is, the amount of power produced for a given displacement) is approaching that of gasoline engines. Not only that, but typically they do so with a ton more torque, which is actually the key number to look at for in-town driving. In fact, BMW's (which I normally hate, but here provide a good example) 1-series' fastest model is actually the diesel-powered model because of its immense torque, and horsepower output comparable to the gassers. Diesels, because they do not rely on a vastly complicated computer control module should be significantly more reliable than Hybrids which have established a track record of higher-than-average maintenance cost. Lastly, diesels could be imported in great numbers from Europe almost immediately, where Hybrid production is still lagging, and diesels do not contain the battery packs that make Hybrids really not such an environmentally friendly choice. In short, I think a modern, direct-injection, common-rail diesel provides a superior choice to hybrids. All we need is the EPA to mandate higher-quality diesel and I think popularity will follow, which itself will be followed by more diesel stations, the lack of which is currently a major drawback.

I agree. My father was a big proponent of diesel engines and too was very disappointed in what GM tried to pass off in their passenger car line-up in the 80's. Thank goodness mom talked him out of that 84 Buick Park Avenue diesel. I think we will see more diesels in this country soon, I was thrilled that Jeep offered the Diamler based CRD diesel in the Liberty but I am upset that just as soon as they introduced it to warm sales they are dropping it???

go figure...

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SBCmetroguy, I disagree with your logic. "I do agree with giving up the SUV, though. I've never had a desire to have an SUV, though I have had a desire to get a truck just so I can save some money on delivery charges every time I buy furniture or appliances."

Not to pick on your opinion, but... Pay for the delivery charge of $25 or even $50 bucks the once every couple years you buy new furniture or a refrigerator and save $500.00 or more a year in gas by driving a smaller car.

My last three cars have been honda civics. The MPG have varied from 32 to 40. I can't fathom paying almost $3.00 a gallon and getting 10 to 15 MPG like so many SUV's get.

The US could double fuel efficiency in a few years by people switching to smaller cars. If people still want gas guzzling 300+ horsepower vehicles, tax the heck out of them so they reflect their true cost on society. JMO...

There are other reasons I'd want a truck, but that was the one I mentioned at the time. My wanting a truck includes saving on delivery charges, but it also would make moving easier as I would be able to do it myself. There have been tons of times I'd preferred to have a truck. Lots of items I prefer to move myself rather than paying for, or depending on, someone else to do it.

Thanks for calling me on that, by the way, as now that I've really thought about it, you're correct... the delivery cost item doesn't make much sense.

By the way, Honda Civic or Accord Hybrid is the way I would go if trying to conserve on fuel. Those are the kinds of cars I would recommend someone invest in if they're wanting to save on fuel. You're a very smart guy. :D

In a perfect world, my wife and I would both drive fuel-efficient Hondas for our commutes and cross-country drives, and I'd have the truck specifically for hauling things around... especially if I get a boat. ;)

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It isn't realistic or practical to expect people to be anything other than utterly selfish. That's the main problem.

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It isn't realistic or practical to expect people to be anything other than utterly selfish. That's the main problem.

I like to think that most people would sacrafice a bit to help others if they were educated on the matter. Some assholes won't of course, but most will.

Two of the easiest things that one can do to save gasoline no matter what vehicle you drive, is to

  • Slow down and drive the speed limit or less

  • Don't tailgate, this also has the side benefit of making your brakes last much longer.

You can easily add 5-10 mpg to your average MPG if you follow these two steps.

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There are other reasons I'd want a truck, but that was the one I mentioned at the time. My wanting a truck includes saving on delivery charges, but it also would make moving easier as I would be able to do it myself. There have been tons of times I'd preferred to have a truck. Lots of items I prefer to move myself rather than paying for, or depending on, someone else to do it.

Thanks for calling me on that, by the way, as now that I've really thought about it, you're correct... the delivery cost item doesn't make much sense.

By the way, Honda Civic or Accord Hybrid is the way I would go if trying to conserve on fuel. Those are the kinds of cars I would recommend someone invest in if they're wanting to save on fuel. You're a very smart guy. :D

In a perfect world, my wife and I would both drive fuel-efficient Hondas for our commutes and cross-country drives, and I'd have the truck specifically for hauling things around... especially if I get a boat. ;)

I can't cast stones without any guilt either. In addition to my Civic my wife drive's an SUV, but it is a Honda CRV that gets 23 mpg in town. We are a family of four though and there is a need for a larger vehicle at times.

It drives me crazy to see people, who I know don't even have kids, drive huge 7 passenger vehicles that get 12 mpg...

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I haven't seen anyone mention "turn off your car's air conditioner" while driving. That alone eats up a ton of gas mileage.

Move to a Northern State where you only need A/C for 3 months (if that). :P

Getting your car tuned up is a good one, and making sure your tire pressure is correct.

Buy a smaller car. The argument about small cars being death traps is sorta silly. I (knock on wood) haven't been in a car accident in 15 years. Just pay attention to the road and the statistics will be on your side. And most new small cars come with front and side airbags. Try the Nissan Altima (23/30 mpg).

If you need the space, switch to a minivan instead of an SUV. I know they may not be as "cool" and people think they epitomize "Soccer Moms", but they all get better gas mileage then their SUV counterparts. Try the Honda Oddysey (20/28 mpg).

Change jobs (if you're really serious about making a difference).

Move (and be willing to accept something less than your "dream home", which doesn't really exist anyway).

Most State highway departments have "park-n-ride" websites where you can hook up with people to carpool with.

We've done all of these in the past 6 months and can't believe the difference it makes.

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I read that using the AC uses less gas than opening all the windows, is this just a myth?

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I read that using the AC uses less gas than opening all the windows, is this just a myth?

THIS sounds like the answer.

Consumer Reports says it decreases gas mileage by 10% in speeds of less than 45 mph.

Since most driving is "in-town" less than 45 mph, increased drag from the windows being open is not an issue and does not affect gas mileage.

Higher than 45, it does not save fuel by having the windows open.

10 more ways to conserve fuel

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I've also heard using the A/C no longer uses as much gas as it use to. Using the A/C reduces your mpg by 2% or 3%, and having your windows down at highway speed reduces mpg by about 2%. Not very significant overall. You would waste as much gas warming your vehicle up in the North during the winter. It's kind of a wash.

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I've also heard using the A/C no longer uses as much gas as it use to. Using the A/C reduces your mpg by 2% or 3%, and having your windows down at highway speed reduces mpg by about 2%. Not very significant overall. You would waste as much gas warming your vehicle up in the North during the winter. It's kind of a wash.

So don't "warm" your car in the Winter either, like most people don't. :rolleyes:

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The heat in your car is coming from your engine, which it produces whether or not you have the heater on. An A/C actually has to cool the air separately.

This is why people turn their heaters on when their cars are overheating.

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Move to a Northern State where you only need A/C for 3 months (if that). :P

LOL, I doubt I use my AC that much here in Charlotte. And of course the disadvantage to this measure is that it takes far more fuel to heat a home in a cold environment than it does to cool in the summer.

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I wish automakers would stop wasting their time developing hybrid engines for cars that would probably get 30-40 mpg with just a diesel engine. The vehicles that need hybrid engines are big heavy vehicles like full size cars, full size trucks and full size SUVs. It's like fretting that your B grade child isn't making an A, but totally ignoring your F grade child, which would be great if they started making at least a C.

I like diesel engines, but if there's one myth that doesn't seem to want to die, and understandably, is that a diesel will make more torque than similar sized gasoline engine. That's just not the case. For one thing people are always comparing a turbocharged diesel against a naturally aspirated gas engine. Forced induction essentially makes an engine bigger. If a 350 ci engine is taking in as much air as it can normally it's pulling in 350 ci of air. If you were to raise that by 50% then your engine is essentially a 525 ci engine, with the torque ratings that you would expect from an engine of that size. Take a 400 ci diesel and a 400 ci gas and have them both turbocharged to 15 psi and I assure you the gas will rip the diesel's trucks rear end off if they were to engage in a tug of war.

Like I said I like diesel engines and the benefits over gas are

1-Better gas mileage

2-Better durability/ longer lasting

3-Essentially no limit to the amount of boost you can run. A diesel will eventually make more torque than a gas engine, but the boost has to be monstrous. What a gas engine could deliver in torque with about 20-25 psi the diesel would probably need about 40-50 psi or more. Remember that a Duramax with 520 ft lbs of torque is running about 15 psi from a 402 ci engine. I've seen a 327 with a turbo running about 9 psi and it was making 600 ft lbs.

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LOL, I doubt I use my AC that much here in Charlotte. And of course the disadvantage to this measure is that it takes far more fuel to heat a home in a cold environment than it does to cool in the summer.

Is that really true? Although most homes (at least around here) are heated with natural gas furnaces, the energy needed to COOL entire regions seems to be much more intense than the energy needed to HEAT entire regions. I've never heard of energy spikes, brownouts, or rolling blackouts in the Winter time. To produce electricity, you also need coal, hydro power, nuclear, or some other form of environmentally impacting power generation. Natural gas is just tapped into, isn't it?

I'd be interested to know the differences. I always tell people that natural gas is better for the environment and uses less energy, but maybe not.

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So don't "warm" your car in the Winter either, like most people don't. :rolleyes:

I was refering to the way people go out and start their car several minutes before going anywhere to bring the engine up to temperature and put the defrosters on to clear the windows.

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I was refering to the way people go out and start their car several minutes before going anywhere to bring the engine up to temperature and put the defrosters on to clear the windows.

Oh, I see what you're saying. I actually don't see a lot of people doing that anymore. Most newer cars heat up pretty quickly, and the majority of people (I know of) have garages. But I could add that to the "conserve fuel" column: don't "pre-heat" your car.

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Is that really true? Although most homes (at least around here) are heated with natural gas furnaces, the energy needed to COOL entire regions seems to be much more intense than the energy needed to HEAT entire regions. I've never heard of energy spikes, brownouts, or rolling blackouts in the Winter time. To produce electricity, you also need coal, hydro power, nuclear, or some other form of environmentally impacting power generation. Natural gas is just tapped into, isn't it?

I'd be interested to know the differences. I always tell people that natural gas is better for the environment and uses less energy, but maybe not.

Much of the natural gas burned in this country is now imported. Same issues as oil, and of course, the burning of natural gas releases CO2 into the atmosphere.

We don't have blackouts here in the SE and a lot of the power in this area is generated by hydro, nuclear, and coal. Hydro is renewable, nuclear does not release CO2 into the atmosphere, and coal is all mined in the USA. None of these are perfect, but using an AC to maintain a 10-25 degree difference, uses less energy than buring gas or something else to maintain a 50-70 degree or more difference in the winter. Many people here have heatpumps (a reversable AC) which are very efficient for cooling and heating.

My natural gas bill to heat this house in the winter is more than the total power bill I pay in the summer to cool the place. We rarely go below freezing here so I can't imagine how much it would cost in a more severe climate.

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