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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Looking Back to December 19th, 2007




Off our deck, looking south, there are several young spruce trees guarding the
exposure to the ocean winds... we are hoping they grow quickly. Limiting that exposure also
lets us look through the trees to see the seals and birds that think they are totally protected from view. The loon in
the top pic is Larry the Loon (named after a friend with the same persuasion). Below is a group of ducks we have
been watching grow up this summer... there are nineteen! Often is is best to be unseen, and those guys that are unseen are below water checking out the weeds


Lately I have been driving to Truro to visit my Mother on a daily basis, and I am reminded of a blog I wrote back in December about saving fuel... I am reprinting it below... one that John McCain should have read (its in red, just for him).

When I am driving, I am often on highway #102 which is a four lane speedway from Halifax to Truro, about 60 miles (100km). The speed limit is 110KM (about 69MPH). If you drive at the speed limit, you can do the trip in about 52 minutes. If you drive at 60 MPH (96kmPH) you will arrive in 60 minutes.

As I set my Jeep or the Prius (depending on my mood) on cruise control at 60MPH, I notice that the traffic is flying by me... often at speeds far above the speed limit. I get to Truro, and often I see some of the cars that flew past me in the parking lots of the shopping centers... and I ask myself... why? Why did they have to go so fast?

In the Jeep, I am getting about 20MPG at 60MPH. On a return trip of 120 miles, I am using six USA gallons of fuel... that's about $30.00 per round trip. If I speed up to the speed limit, I will use about 20% more fuel, or about $36.00. There is a graph below that shows that the folks in the parking lots would have that extra 20% if they slow down. Of course, they could also invest in a Prius... we are getting 52 USA miles per gallon... the same trip is using 2.3 USA gallons or about $11.50 in fuel.

Why not reconsider the speed we are driving, especially when we are not on an urgent mission. And even if it is urgent, why not leave a little earlier...


We are paying very substantial prices for our various fuels this winter. We paid $1.12 per liter last week for regular automobile fuel in the Halifax area. This is up from around $0.75 just four years ago... about a 49% increase. What can we expect in another four years? Below I am planning to address some ideas I have on automobile fuel costs, and how to manage them. On the next blog, I plan to address the costs of home heating... including fuel prices.

I have heard people complaining about the cost of running the family car; the same complaining about trucking costs by business; and certainly lots of folks discussing the cost of home heating fuel. It is part of our social fabric to talk about this type of issue... and not act to do anything about it, as individuals or collectively as a government. We have to act differently if we want our situation to change... we all know that to expect otherwise is insanity!

The following data from StatsCan indicates that we have around the same price for our fuel as the rest of eastern Canada (StatsCan data below), so we can't ask for help from the federal government. We are certainly not going to get it from the off-shore suppliers of our oil... Mr. Chavez may have lost an election, but the oil companies still set the prices. So perhaps it is time to take things into our own hands, as individuals, and perhaps ask the provincial government to help out by encouraging everyone to work on this issue.


City Name........................Auto Diesel..........Home........... Heat
St. John's .............................$1.11.................... * ...............$0.87
Charlottetown .................... $1.03............... $1.09...............$0.85
Halifax ................................$1.09.................... * ..............$0.88
St. John ...............................$1.03.................... * ..............$0.96
Quebec City ........................$1.08............... $1.11...............$0.89
Montreal .............................$1.06 ...............$1.06...............$0.87
Ottawa ................................$1.02............... $0.94 ..............$0.89
Toronto ...............................$1.00............... $1.00 ..............$0.91

Data From Stats Canada, for complete Canadian data check out: http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/econ154a.htm

Let's take the biggest bite first... automobile fuel. We use about 65% of the total oil imported to fuel our automobiles, trucks, ATVs and the like. If we could reduce our consumption, we would in effect reduce the amount of money we are spending on fuel. And we are spending a lot! For example, in a recent evaluation Lynnda and I did on applications for ourgraph showing mileage drop-off with higher speeds foundation's scholarships which we give to students in the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) for the trades, we found on an average of the ninety-five applicants, fuel costs to and from the community college campus averaged around $3,000. That's more than tuition! So, how can we reduce these costs?

1) Slow down! The graph to the right (taken from http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/gallery/0,21863,1144415-1,00.html) indicates the average fuel consumption at increasing rates of speed. At approximately 100km/h a car begins to loose efficiency... that is just about any car, normal aspiration or diesel. A reduction from 130km/h to 100km/h can save in the range of 30% of the fuel normally used to get to a destination.


2) Go with the flow! Every time we jump on the accelerator to pass a slightly slower vehicle, we drive down mileage.
We don't get there significantly faster, so why drive like a jerk?

3) Check your tire pressure. Not only does it reduce fuel mileage when tires are under-inflated, it causes premature tire wear when either under-or-over inflated... that's like taking money out of our pockets because of shorter tire life. Under-inflation can occur when weight is added to the car... and a couple of pounds of under-inflation could result in a 5% reduction in kilometers per gallon. A digital tire gauge is an important tool to be used regularly. If your regular fuel stop doesn't have an air pump, switch stations.
If you don't have one, ask Santa do deliver on the 25th.

4) Purchase your fuel at a station that discounts from the government regulated pricing. Lynnda (my wife) and I purchase all of our
fuel at stations operated by the two major grocery store chains... Sobeys and Atlantic Superstore... both offer 3.5% savings through grocery rebates. Instead of paying $1.109 this week, we are paying a net price of $1.074. I am Scottish by nature and it irks me to see cars at the five other service stations around the one we use in Forest Hill (Cole Harbour) when they could be buying for less across or just down the street. By not using the discount stations, we encourage the big name dealers (Irving, Shell, ESSO, PetroCan) to keep the prices that the government dictates... and now we know they are at least 3.5% too high. Nothing says that the big name dealers can't offer fuel below the government price.

Below, there are several other driving tips that could help you reduce your fuel usage or prices in your automobile. I can't help think that the students that applied for the scholarships and were spending $3,000 on auto fuel could be saving upwards of $900 per year if they followed these tips and common sense.


Driving Tips (Taken from http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/driving.html)
  • Idling gets you 0 miles per gallon. The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. No more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days is needed. Anything more simply wastes fuel and increases emissions.

  • Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking) wastes gas. It can lower your highway gas mileage 33% and city mileage 5%.

  • Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. The fueleconomy.gov Web site shows how driving speed affects gas mileage.

  • When you use overdrive gearing, your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces wear.

  • Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

  • Use air conditioning only when necessary.

  • Clear out your car; extra weight decreases gas mileage.

  • Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to buy a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5%.

  • Check into telecommuting, carpooling and public transit to cut mileage and car maintenance costs.
I hope that the point is not missed that you and I can do more than just limit our own costs. We can, through our leadership and commitment to lowering our society's dependence on oil reduce that dependence. We can also thereby reduce pollution from fuel and so on. Imagine... if there are 100,000 people spending $3,000 per year on fuel, just in Nova Scotia... we could potentially reduce our automobile fuel costs by $75,000,000 if we achieved a 25% improvement.. What could we do with that rebate, and what would it do to the economy if we invested it in Nova Scotia made goods. It suggests that investing more in policing our highway speed limits might have a real pay-back. Below are several websites that could have information that will help achieve just such a goal. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question477.htm http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/gallery/0,21863,1144415-1,00.html http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips/speeding_and_mpg.html http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/driving.html http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/personal-transportation/gas-saving.html

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Blueknowser

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Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!