Sunday, April 24, 2005

The fumes are getting to me....

as I find myself running on fumes more and more often, reluctant to pay the 25 cent-per-gallon higher prices at some gas stations when compared to other local stations. Some folks will pay higher prices, just like some folks will pay more in Tanasbourne for milk than I do in Oak Grove, but it's virtualy all the same stuff inside the tank of my truckette, so why not shop for it? Shopping for gas drives prices down.

Yesterday's lowest price locally for regular is
$2.319 a gallon (Troutdale) vs
$1.839 in Jackson, Missouri, and
$2.919 in Rancho Mirage, California.

How do I know that? Gas Price Watch, and Portland Gas Prices, a service of Gas Buddy.

Yes, some of those sites have lots of pop-up ads. I don't see them because I use AdBlocker with Firefox. Both are free, and make web use much more pleasant, not only for keeping me from having to see ads, but also to keep my computer from taking the time to download and calculate how to show those ads to me. The tech guru of the Wall Street Journal praises it for its speed and security. Shouldn't you?

AAA also posts average pricing for Oregon and nationally, and will even estimate the fuel cost of a trip for you.

And, BTW, gas, even with today's prices, is a much lower part of the cost of owning a car than most think. Shop more carefully for loans, or maybe even keep driving your heap another year to save up for a bigger down payment, and you'll save a lot more than if gas dropped back to the prices of a decade ago.

As long as the cost of building a new refinery's too expensive (thanks to NIMBY folks), we'll have these prices, and higher, because even if the base price of crude oil drops, there are so many other factors affecting prices (such as 'boutique fuels') and with our very limited pipeline, we will assuredly have higher gas prices than average.

We will not conserve our way out of this problem. However, there are a few adjustments in your driving habits which might save you a few bucks.

So, short term:
1. Get a new tire gauge that's easier to read, or the tire valve caps which show when your tires need inflation by color change. Think about buying a small compressor ($20 or so) to make refilling your tires quicker (and therefore more likely to do). Most tires are underinflated, and that not only costs you more $$ in gas but also makes the care less safe.
2. Plan your trips into one large expedition instead of several small trips.
3. Drive a little slower, as wind resistance is proportional to the square of your speed. Watch the cars around you as you enter the highway, and see where they are a few miles later. You'll see the cars which push to be at the head of the pack are often just a few car lengths away from you many miles down the road. Instead of pushing, coast a little when you see a light ahead that's yellow or red, as rolling starts are more efficient than dead starts.
4. Change the oil & air filter more often so your engine's more efficient.
5. Take off the roof rack and roof carriers to decrease drag.
6. Roll up the windows over 40mph and use the vent fan or A/C instead.
7. Empty your trunk and truck bed of stuff you don't need (but leave your Disaster Preparedness kit in).
8. Tighten the gas cap so fumes don't evaporate out.
9. Turn your engine off if you will be waiting for more than a minute in a drive-up window line (or maybe, park and get out, if the line inside's shorter than the line outside).
10. And, to offset higher pump prices, shop for insurance, for insurance is a higher chunk of the cost of car ownership than gas is, and it's easy to shop for rates.

Long term:
* Don't turn purple when folks talk about nuclear power. Ne designs are radically safer, and since there are no 'hydrogen wells' (except for the ones we already are pumping for gasoline and natural gas', we have to get energy from somewhere. China's nuclear power initiative is well underway, and there's no reason to keep burning dead dinosaurs we will need for plastics feedstock.
* Support the space program. Japan's already testing solar power satellite components. SPS will beam power back to earth, safely; one receiving antenna 150% the size of Forest Park could provide five gigawatts of no-emissions, no-pollution power; and, the land underneath can be used for solar sells, thermanl solar or even grazing, for the receiving antenna is just a wire net on stakes above the ground.

And, by all means, keep the politicians out of gas price controls. Eastern states are barring the Costcos and other discounters from offering gas cheaper. Don't let that happen here.

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