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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

And the gas is going down


Gas at my station was $2.55 a gallon when I passed yesterday morning. My last purchase, last Monday, was $2.74. Half a tank, I didn't stop, although after the errands and jazz band practice pick up tonight it was closer to a quarter. So, it will be lower—or higher—when I fill the tank.

Gasoline and I go way back; I remember paying twelve or fifteen cents a gallon. Its production must have been heavily subsidized; I don’t know. I do know that price inflation in the seventies was exponential. The pumps indicated cents, with hand lettered $1’s preceding.

OPEC put a strangle hold on the world economy then and the scrabble to alternative energy was on. I wonder how much the need for inexpensive energy gave rise to the alternative life style that brought Mother Earth News into mass circulation. We all read it, even if we didn't gravitate to subsistence living on an acre of land.

Many habits I developed back then are with me now. Turning off my car engine while waiting in line, for a train or at the bank, for instance. My uncle, who worked for Ford, thought it stupid. Mom, who even opened the dishwasher to “air dry” after the wash cycle, cited “saving energy.” As I waited for the jazz band practicers to leave the building last night I decided if it’s even a little colder next time, I’ll leave on my warm car.

Natural gas for heating went into short supply back in 1978, the bitter winter my dad passed away “riding this freezing cold, slow train to Siberia.” Natural gas rationing was threatened, although it did not materialize. Mom kept Dad under an electric blanket, but he never was warm enough. In hindsight a goose down comforter was in order.

My parents kept the house at sixty back then, warmer than they grew up with. It was more economical, and, “saved energy,” to quote mom.  When we all moved in together here, nothing changed. Mom simply wore more clothes than the rest of us. And so it went, until a few years ago, long after Mom left us. We were cold; Jan turned up the thermostat to 65 in the winter. Creep has set in; now it’s 66 degrees. We think back to Mom and feel bad.

When we moved here and had to renovate the entire house to move in, I toyed with installing a geo-thermal heating system under the garden that was not a garden, then. The cost was close to prohibitive and my window of opportunity passed while I dithered. I guess I regret it. When I look at power generating windmills on our skyline I think at least this opportunity is not lost.

I like the giant white turbines revolving slowly in the sky. Someday they will be obsoleted by another energy source and be smelted into electric cars or personal transportation devices. I do not agree with all the policies and devices that have brought us to falling gasoline prices, but I like the cost. And that’s the end of a complete ramble on energy in my lifetime. Except, gas was 2.47 when I filled up tonight.


25 comments:

  1. I think with the falling prices Government should look into consumer price gouging.

    Wind turbines are killing birds, I think improved solar panels will someday make a huge difference. Solar on every roof instead of shingles. Oil can't last forever, and when solar is not available...that will be the least of our problems.

    Gas at 15 cents a gallon? I remember 25 cents so you are obviously 10 cents a gallon older than I am.

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    1. And solar panels are killing birds, and automobiles are killing birds and my cat kills the occasional bird and even the front door window claimed a bird once. I have no answers.
      You should see how many cents a gallon all of us are older or younger than each other. Give us a chart to fill in.

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  2. Our fuel is sold by the litre, but equates to nearly $5.70 a gallon. It is going down. A smidgeon but we really, really need to focus on alternative energy sources.
    Soon.

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  3. Hari OM
    The problem with renewable energies - ie sun-sourced or wind-sourced - is that there is no money to be made for barons (read 'bandits') to get rich on. Only once someone can see a major profit margin in something will it truly become the next coal or oil boom equivalent. That's why that gawd awful practic of fracking is getting a hold... This thing is with wind or sun, every household ought to be able to produce exactly what that household needs. Heaven forbid that anyone would decide to build their own generator and go off-grid. Anarchy. How would millionaires survive such a revolt?

    I'm with your predecessor - thermal underwear and knee rugs abound round here. YAM xx

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    1. I'm with you on fracking. It owns much of America right now; There was a series of earthquakes two counties over, until someone with a brain shut down the frackers. The frackers still don't think they caused the quakes.

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  4. I heard about this on my local (Montreal) news tonight. I almost thought it was a joke, really.

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  5. Our gas is $1.03 a litre... $3.90 Cdn per gallon..or about the same as you. I remember being shocked when it went up to 47 cents per litre. Any decent government, truly concerned with energy use,would provide us all with solar panels for our properties...but then they wouldn't get taxes generated by the sales from energy/installation companies. The bottom dollar trumps environment.
    Jane x

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  6. Gasoline here in Texas is $2.36 a gallon... about a dollar less a gallon than when we left here 6 weeks ago. I think when I started driving gasoline was around 20c..... I was 15 then. But when I was 18 and quit college to work in Columbus (big city living, you know) my take-home pay was around $70... and that was for 2 weeks work. Times change, and so do we.

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  7. I think gas remains at $3+ per gallon in Jacksonville. As I continue to improve my house in the future, I hope to add solar panels. I've also heard about hot water heaters that save energy, but I don't know what they're like. My dad taught one of my toddler nephews to turn off light switches and say "save energy." My parents might have set the heat at 68 during the day, but I doubt it was that high. At night, the lever on the thermostat went as low as it could go. The house was hideously cold in the morning. I set my thermostat on 66, but turn it up to 68 or even 70 when Willy Dunne Wooters is here because he swears he'll get pneumonia if the temperature is any lower.

    Love,
    Janie

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  8. Our gas is priced by the litre and the cost has gone down here as well...$1.04 today and I had a coupon from the grocery store to get 8 cents a litre off...my half tank cost me $28. Woohoo...I understand there are other affects on our economy because of these low prices though.
    Our heat is turned to 63F at night, up to 65 in the morning and if we are chilly of an evening up to 68.

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  10. I haven't been watching the daily price of gas but on Friday it was down to $1.13 a litre. That is about 42 cents less per litre than it was about 6 months ago. Quite a savings to fill up the car.

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  11. I'm not sure how gallons transforms into litres, but I do know our petrol prices are too high.
    I've had gas heating in a few houses and found that it doesn't warm a room unless the electric fan installed in the base is also run to spread the warmth. I suppose it would be more effective in small rooms, but we had a large combined lounge-dining at the time. I much preferred the slow combustion fire we had installed in my favourite house. We'd load it with a big mallee stump in the evening and by morning the lounge-dining-kitchen area would be toasty warm.
    You're probably wondering why we would need such a thing in hot Australia, but after our searing summers, our mild winters feel downright cold to us.
    I've given up on electric blankets though and sleep instead with two quilts, one under the sheet and under me, the other on top, so I'm cocooned in warmth.

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  12. Our gas here in the San Diego area is below $3.00; one station I saw it at was $2.79. I'm loving it, for whatever reason. At the highest, the gas was $4.59 a gallon awhile back. When I started driving, gas was 33 cents a gallon and they filled your tank for you and checked your oil; some even gave a free car wash!

    betty

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  13. That looks like an old station in the last pic. Moving off of petroleum will take a long time. Natural gas seems like a good thing to switch to but I'm no expert. I also remember gas for less than $1 a gallon.

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  14. I remember the last significant drop in gas prices, shortly after the Great Scot and I were married. It briefly dropped below $1.00 a gallon (prolly the last time we'll ever see that!) and he took photos of the signs to send back home to family in Scotland, where they were paying the equivalent of $8.00+ per gallon.

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  15. Since the seventies and the rising price of energy, we have packed on the clothes during the winter months. Then menopause set in and I had my own built in heater.

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  16. No central air in the city house, just space heaters that we turned on and off and we vacated and inhabited rooms. now that we have central air, the thermostat is kept at 65 because propane is so much more expensive that natural gas. on really cold evenings we will bump it up to 68 for a few hours and then back down when we go to bed. except this year we bought a little electric heater, a people warmer my husband calls it, so the thermostat stays down. I also turn my car engine off at trains or waiting in line at the bank, etc. not to save gas so much as to not pollute the air unnecessarily. when I started driving at 15 as I recall I could fill my gas tank for about $2.

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    1. I think of turning off the engine waiting in line as pollution elimination, too. Sometimes I wonder how many bank tellers died from our engines at drive in windows.

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  17. We paid $2.51 for gas yesterday. We live in an all electric house and we're real Scrooges when it comes to heating and air conditioning. I keep hoping one of our hot water heaters will go out because I want to replace with tankless water heaters. We don't run the heater or the air conditioner until we settle down. If we're running in and out, up and down stairs we operate on body heat. We try to keep it between 68º and 66º.

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    1. I had one of the first tankless heaters, way back in the early eighties. I hope they are far less expensive. I bet they have improved by quantum leaps since then. They drastically reduced my natural gas bill. Back then we referred to it as flash fried water. Showers were hot, but the bathroom did not become warm and steamy and wonderful. I would buy one again.

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  18. Yes the same is true here Joanne. I read an amusing article in the Times yesterday which said that by the time the oil runs out fracking will have come whether we like it or not and we shall not need the oil from the Middle east anyway. It said these scare stories about running out having gone on through the ages. Apparently there was an article in 1920 suggesting that there were so many horses on the roads that they would soon be nine feet deep in horse manure!

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  19. I'm so glad we do everything with wood here Joanne. It was a big decision not to put oil heating in and it's a LOT of work, but we're not at the mercy of rising prices.

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  20. Gas is way, WAY down here in Canada, too. I can't remember the last time it was this low. And FRACK to the fracking, I say!

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