Better fuel efficiency is one of our best ways of combating higher and higher energy prices. As usual 3rd grade arithmetic supports me on this matter, and that is a pretty good foundation for finding the truth. Here is an example of both efficiency and arithmetic at work: Let's say that 5 years ago, automobiles achieved an average 20 miles per gallon. But with each passing year let's say that 10 million older gas guzzlers were retired to the nearest junk yard, and each was replaced for a sleeker, more efficient new model. That would be 50 million junkers out, and 50 million new cars in. Now let's say that the average mpg rose from 20 mpg to 27 mpg. That's a 35 percent increase in mpg (27-20)/20 = .35 = 35%. That also means that we could travel the same distance while using 35 percent less gasoline. (If I've lost anyone, go back to the 3rd grade and beg them to let you in).
But, let's also say that in the meantime the price of gasoline rose from $2.75/gal. to $3.71/gal. That is a 35% increase. Are we justified in screaming about high gasoline prices? Maybe, but not because of rising prices. Financially, we are no better, no worse off. And guess what? That is approximately what has taken place. We have broke even with rising gasoline prices. Among other things, we are not spending a larger portion of our paychecks at the gas pumps. We have sort of out foxed the oil producers. But don't celebrate too soon. We can do a lot better. (Oh, and incidentally give credit to the auto makers, to some legislators, and to the president for pushing for better gas mileage in cars).
Last night whilst surfing the net I stumbled onto a video from a fellow in Duluth, Minn. Having spent 100 years there in one month of October, I know how cold it gets in Duluth. This fellow was an electrician who got pretty tired of paying more and more to heat his house. And he set out to do something about it. Fast forward. He ended up building a high efficiency solar panel and a high efficiency wind turbine and plugged them into his home power grid. He built them for $197. And the results? He claims he now receives a check each month from the power company for the excess energy they draw down from him. He believes you and I can build his units and cut our home energy bills by 50 to 75%.
Once in awhile you've got to take a chance on people. I am going to buy his home manuals that provide step-by-step instructions about where to purchase the parts and how to build these efficienct energy producers for a total of $47. He sounded to me like someone who understands the wisdom of 3rd grade arithmetic. I already know about the high cost of electricity in my area. So I am going all in with my 47 bucks. Give me a few months and I'll let you know how I made out. My first obstacle is my Home Owner's Association. They are nearly as bad as the Tea Party when it comes to obstructing progress.