With gas prices hitting $3/gallon, many out there are taking rather drastic steps to reduce their energy usage--specifically buying hybrid vehicles and "flex fuel" (gasoline or ethanol) capable vehicles. Please; don't. To break even with a hybrid, one must drive about 50,000 miles per year. You'll never break even with flexible fuel--it reduces mileage, and when ethanol is competitive, it'll be a part of every gasoline mixture in the country.
Here are some more cost-effective solutions if you've got a few grand burning a hole in your pocket that you'd like to use to save energy:
1. Consider a manual transmission (savings of $500 to $1000) or diesel engine (cost of $3000 or so) in your next vehicle. A clutch saves you 5% in gas, and a diesel reduces fuel usage by 30% or so.
2. Consider replacing old appliances, especially refrigerators, freezers, and washing machines.
3. Consider driving at 55-65mph instead of 75mph or more for a 15% savings in fuel usage.
4. Consider natural gas for your next dryer or oven; the cost is similar, but less carbon will be emitted due to the low (~30%) Carnot efficiency of electric power generation.
5. Use light colors when painting and wallpapering the inside of your house--this can reduce required lighting power by up to 50%.
One can certainly calculate other easy ways of saving energy, but the primary point is certain; buying a "Prius" probably won't help nearly as much as these other steps.
Open thread - Events are very much in the saddle at the moment, so we'll need to make this an open thread. If you have time and aren't worried about the latest snownami,...
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