Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What do do about energy?

Those rains came again yesterday afternoon. We did hear some thunder way off in the distance, but I didn’t see any lightning in my neighborhood and, as I said, what thunder we heard was a long way off. But the downpours! Oh, those downpours! My weather station’s rain gauge tripled in depth in just a couple hours of rain. I think the weather gods got together and said, “That gator guy has been dissing us for a week now about no rain in his neighborhood. Let’s show him.” I think the ten successive days that many others got were all crammed into two afternoons at my house.

Today dawned with nice blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Now at mid-morning not much has changed, except it has gotten a little warmer; but the weather guy on TV said this morning to just wait a while. More is on the way.

I attended my Senior Fitness workout as usual for Tuesday mornings, but then cheated again. It’s beginning to happen about once a month when I stop by a nearby donut store on my way home. Today’s selection was really fresh. Wife Gator seemed elated I had stopped. I reminded her I wasn’t going to let this develop into a habit, but once a month seems O.K.

I find myself “entertained” with the suggestions I’ve been reading and hearing about the upcoming winter’s heating costs. Most of the suggestions deal with taking measures to make sure the home is ready to save as much energy as possible. You know, check things like windows and doors leaking air letting heat escape. The ideas of plentiful and I won’t go into them here, but no one seems to tell me how much I’ll have to spend to renovate my home to increase its energy efficiency. If I do nothing, I know I’ll be spending somewhere in the vicinity of four thousand dollars for oil. Is it worth it to spend a couple thousand dollars or more replacing windows, doors, etc., to save perhaps a thousand on oil?

Probably for the long run. But at my age, I wonder how much longer the run will be.

I’m already conserving as much as I can. I’ve cut my driving down so much I sometimes wonder if we still need two cars. Both are paid for so the question becomes, “Does it cost less to drive two cars, say 500 miles, or one car for a thousand?” The two cars don’t normally go to the same places. Of course there’s some speciousness in my question, but I don’t care; it’s my question. I can easily demonstrate I drive less. I get a free oil change every 5,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first. I got an oil change last fall and last week I took advantage of the six months part of the deal, actually it was almost eight months this time, and got my oil change. I had added only 2200 miles to my odometer. So I’m saving as much as I can on gas. My wife’s car, which is 7 years old, only has gone less than 35,000 miles. But she drives a mile and a half to work three times a week.

I honestly believe at least as far as the gas goes, we’re doing our part to conserve. For the winter’s oil, we’ve already decided that we’ll keep the thermostat lower by two or three degrees. Our ages require we do some extra things to keep warm. We’ll layer a little more, using Afghans she has knitted when we’re sitting in the TV room and wearing some fleece around the house. That’ll help somewhat.

I’ve been reading about people switching to wood pellet wood stoves to save oil money. Over a long run, that would probably save them some money. But I suspect it would take a lot more than just adding a pellet stove. Proper preparation for safety is also needed. I wonder how safe it would be to leave something burning wood fired up when one leaves the home. I’m paranoid, I suspect, but we would never leave our place with wood burning in our fireplace, which has an older insert. We don’t burn often, either, because we don’t spend much time in the room with the fireplace. Knowing our past experience, we’d spend all that money and then only use it few times.

After more than 70 years of habit forming, it’s so much easier just to let the furnace and thermostats do the work.

It is an interesting discussion going on, though. I do think it’s about time for our lawmakers to stop the stalling and taking the bull by the horns and change the policies they’ve created to get us into this crisis mess. I know such solutions as drilling offshore or on our lands won’t change anything for several years. But that is just one start. Simply saying, “It won’t work” won’t accomplish anything. I think we need to revisit nuclear power, as many of our competing nations have, and stop tearing down dams, and allowing wind power.

I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on the lawmakers’ solutions, either. We’ll continue to discuss, plan, research, hold hearings, and attempt to reinvent the wheel over and over. And Americans will continue to fall deeper and deeper into the abyss.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I see you are attending senior fitness workouts weekly.

Wouldn't it be nice if you can supplement such with home-based low-impact fitness exercises especially designed for senior citizens?

Check it out here: