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What have you done to cope with high energy costs?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by sylvestermcmonkey, May 30, 2008.

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  1. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    Hogg: you been sniffing those atoms again? :lol:

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  2. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Hog, if you plan to market that, you might want to think of a different name for it. Rick
  3. mainemac

    mainemac Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Maine
    Energy Costs /Cutting back:

    1) Insulated the attic
    2) Bought the wood insert this winter
    3) Riding bike to work 6 miles round trip
    4) My wife is letting the SUV sit in the garage and using my Prius.
    5) CFL everywhere
    6) Looking into the basement insulation
    7) Brown bagging lunch

    Tom
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    South Puget Sound, WA
    maybe buttane :)
  5. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Next to nuke plant Berwick, PA.
    HAHAHAHA LOL, excellent!!!!!!!!!
    Or....bodydiesel
  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Just insert a space. "Me Thane".
  7. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I've already adjusted about as much as I'm willing to, long before today's energy prices. Here's what we've done:

    1) A fleet of 4 recycled (wrecked and rebuilt) Saturn SL2s with manual transmissions. Decent performance, 35mpg in mixed driving, extremely low maintenance costs and insurance. Average cost: $5k each, purchased at about 1 year old and about 12k miles each.

    2) Very well insulated house, designed and built by us for livability and low energy usage. 3500 square feet, warm and comfy, 30,000 BTU/hr heat loss at -20 degrees.

    3) Reasonably efficient wood gasification heating system for space heating, hot tub, and DHW. No smoke, no fumes, 4 cords per year.

    4) Solar hot water for summertime. Total fuel oil consumption for annual heat and hot water: 20 gallons.

    5) CFLs wherever they make sense. Low power computers.

    6) A job where I work from home. No commuting miles.

    7) Big veggie garden. Almost zero processed food.

    8) Make our own lumber from our own trees in a well-managed woodlot.

    As a consequence, energy is not a big part of our budget. At $4 a gallon, our total energy costs for automobiles, electricity, and heating is about $4000 per year. Our biggest expense by FAR is taxes - about $30,000.

    Not bad for a hidebound conservative who's profoundly skeptical about the case for global warming, convinced that nuclear energy is the way to go, and is totally turned off by the entire 'green' movement. I even feel that PV systems are a waste of resources - they consume more in their production and installation than they produce in their use. How that's a good idea escapes my logic.

    I guess I 'walk the walk' without even agreeing with, much less 'talking the talk'.
  8. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    New Mexico
    Sure it would be cool, Green if we could all just get along, I know we all bleed red and I personally don't have a problem with anyone as a person. But where the line gets drawn delineating 'us' and 'them' is that that country is virtually a cooking pot of hate toward the western world and they're hellbent on wiping us off the map. That's where the trouble is; not with the way they live or do things................
  9. Telco

    Telco New Member

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    Okiehomey
    Current and past:
    - Added a foot of insulation to the house
    - Sold the Tahoe and replaced it with a used minivan a few years back
    - Everything is kept in tune
    - Stopped driving 80MPH everywhere, top speed is 70MPH on 75MPH 2-lanes
    - All small appliances are on power strips
    - All lights are kept off
    - Thermostat is 79 in the summer, 69 in the winter, ceiling fans used regularly
    - Aerial technology for the TV
    - Leftover night on a regular basis
    - Fewer visits to the hundred dollar a night restaurants
    - Basic oatmeal with dried fruit for breakfast, ramen for lunch, more beans for dinner

    For the future
    - Son's moving out in less than a month
    - Daughter moves out next year
    - Currently searching for a 5 acre plot of land closer to where the wife works
    - Will sell the minivan for a nice C-5 Corvette (and with my tuning/mechanical skills, expect to see 30+MPG)
    - Will be building a smaller, FAR more fuel efficient house using solar heat and with any luck solar electric
    - Will pay off the new place with the profits from the old place, as the Tulsa area is one of the few in the nation that has continued to increase in value
    - Have ideas towards an electric vehicle, will begin experimentation as soon as the new house is up and I have a workshop
    - As soon as we're out of HOA Naziland, will have a garden, greenhouse and a root cellar

    If my plans come to fruition, my yearly outlay will be 10 grand a year or so for everything. If the electric vehicle plan works out, 10 buck a gallon gas will be a yawn.
  10. Telco

    Telco New Member

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    On the Sierra, what year is that? I can make some suggestions to improve mileage on it.
  11. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    Sure thing Telco. It's a 2001. For further information, I've tuned it with HP tuners, tweaked the ignition timming tables and have done away with the Torque management. That alone made it a whole new truck, oh yeah, and with new Iridium spark plugs. Cleaned my FRAM Air Hog the other day and it made a notiveable improvement in mileage. That's what I've got/ done but I'm all ears to any other improvements..............

    Edit; I have thought about taking out the rear blocks and decranking to torsion bars to drop the front an inch making the truck look like a 2wd but concluded that the endeavor wouldn't be worth it either as I don't drive fast enough and the potential drivtrain/ alignment issues that could arise..................
  12. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Again, please refrain from warmongering here - if you want to start a thread in the Ash Can about wars for oil and your opinion, do it. But I do not want these threads hijacked by beating the drums to kill more people, etc.

    Please....
  13. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    Gotcha, now back to throwing my Sierra into the sea, or getting smaller tires to increase mileage...........
  14. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    What can I do with my '95 Dodge 1/2 ton? It has the 360.
  15. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Okay guys, on topic but about cars and trucks. First thing is buy one of the scangauge devices so you know how much fuel you are consuming. With that tool you can check on improvements. I know with the scangauge when the engine goes into "closed loop" which is basicly when the choke kicks off and the truck optimizes the fuel mixture. This happens at 134 degrees water temperature on my 98 GM. Lots of extra fuel is burned when the choke is on and the engine cold. MPG is very bad during warm up. I only drive 8 miles to work so about half of my commute driving is with the choke on and very low MPG. I plan to install an engine block heater and consume the one or two KwH to warm the engine into closed loop every time possible to eliminate the choke. I researched the idea with the hypermiler guys and they have already figured it out with actual good results. Block heaters are cheap and will pay for themselves with better mpg long before any aftermarket gadget will. Added benefits of cleaner emissions, warmer cabin, and easier life on engine.

    Any thoughts? I already run maximum sidewall pressure in the tires, removed the bug guard, and fresh tune. Mud flaps are still on and are detrimental to MPG.
  16. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I would park that 360 dodge. They are well known as the biggest gas hogs of the half ton truck world. Value of the truck is very low. I tow regularly and commute with my half ton GM with 350 and it gets respectable mileage of 11 towing at the max and 15-20 empty. Good enough that I can't justify a small pickup for hauling motorcycles.
  17. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    I dunno highbeam,. think ya can do better. stop buying those cheap cuts of meat, ya know the spit out ones, stick to T-bones or Porterhouse.. I mean ya can at least eat it all with out any spit outs-(very wasteful). Other than that, I think, that you my good neighbour to the south of us, is probably on the right track.

    Whoops!! almost forgot, quit buying that watered down yankee beer, and buy the canadian stuff. only have to drink half as much to get there. thereby saving tonnes of water usage :lol:
  18. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    You have a 98 with a CHOKE? I don't think GM has used a choke since the mid-late 80s.

    Thinking seriously about brewing my own...

    Chris
  19. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    Jackson, MI
    There has certainly been a progression in energy prices, but provided one has a "sensible" commute, the increased cost would not break the budget. The problem is that many folks idea of a sensible commute stems from the days of $1/gal gas. Most of the folks at my office have at least a 30 mile commute (one way). In 2004, virtually all of them were driving an SUV or pickup truck for the commute. Back then, that commute cost about $223/month. Today, same vehicle would be over $535/month. Just by converting to a compact car, they can get the cost down to $250/month. Then you throw in things like lift clubs etc, which don't work too well when your hours are dictated by what sort of crisis you are trying to resolve on any particular day.

    The same people have utility bills for their Mc Mansions (4000 sq ft plus) of $350-$500 per month for nearly 6 months of the year. And, because they live in such cool and hip neighborhoods, they get to pay over $5000-$7000 in property tax a year. I won't even start on the mortgage payments for homes in the $430-600k range... (which is what was paid, not what they are worth...today). And then one has to add in the cost of private schools for the kids, its like an additional mortgage per head.

    My utility bills last winter were never more than $80/month. Property tax is around $280/month. Last year was my first burning wood, right after corn and pellets about doubling in price and me sitting on a $3500 white elephant corn burning stove..... I only bought 1 cord of wood for $135+ $50 delivery, the rest was scrounged. I have a few different sources of wood for between $40-$60/cord unsplit and I estimate that I have about 3 cord split and stacked already for 2 weekends work. My goal is to add another 4 cord to provide a buffer for the years to come.

    Obviously not everyone can convert to burning wood. Most of the "nice" neighborhoods have ordinances that prohibit wood piles (or parking the boat/jetski/snowmobile/quad etc) in the garden. Its all about how you choose to live and what you want to spend your money on. If you are in a situation where you are not close to work, then certainly one needs to find the most fuel efficient vehicle you can find. Sometimes, installing a Megasquirt engine ECU and a wideband O2 sensor will allow programming the engine to run leaner under part load and one needs to drive sensibly. It is the obsession with performance and rapid acceleration that has driven the poor economy of domestic vehicles in the US. Even MCC with their "Smart" have increased the engine size from the original 600cc to 1000cc for the US market. The turbodiesel is of course nowhere to be seen (OK to be sold in Canada). Consumers here are only going to get what they ask for. When people really get to the point that they are concerned about economy, the pendulum will start swinging back the other way.
  20. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    Throw it into the sea by way of donating it to charity..................
  21. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Keitho,

    The Escalade commercials are pretty telling...

    One is a guy saying "Big V8, dripping with chrome, lots of room - heck, if it had a bathroom, I'd live in it"

    And another is a woman pushing the gas HARD and saying "The question is only - when you turn your car on, does it return the favor?"

    So for the guy, it's like a finished basement with wide screen and pool table and for the gal it's a dildo. Definitely some crass instincts.
  22. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    All gasoline vehicle engines have a "choke". I use the term loosely because the choke system is now computer controlled to richen the fuel mixture during warmup when in the old carburetor days it was a mechanical system. My 2001 Honda motorcycle has a good ol' manual controlled choke and no fast idle! My 98 pickup is all computer with 4 O2 sensors and plenty of computer controlled fuel injectors. Depsite all of this computer junk, the mileage of our cars have dropped since the carburetor days. They sure last a lot longer though.

    The best mpg small pickups available in the US only get 22 mpg. Yippy skippy. They also weigh 3000 lbs. Even that ridiculous smart car with rear wheel drive gets worse mileage than a large VW passat with the TDI. You've got to buy old stuff to get good mpg. Old Honda insight, honda CRX with dual carbs got better than 50!, etc. I'm a bit digusted with this phenomenon.

    All of these gas related costs are a drop in the bucket compared to the mortgage. The mortgage is pretty difficult to control.
  23. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, not exactly. My Harley is carbureted rather than fuel injected. The manually operated "choke" for starting & warmup is actually an "enrichener". Rather than restricting the airflow to richen the mixture, it opens an additional fuel passage in the carburetor. The result, of course, is the same...a higher fuel to air ratio, but it's technically not a "choke". Rick
  24. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Okay okay, the definition of choke is the issue. By choke, I mean cold engine enrichment system. More than one way to get there. My old 4 cylinder VW actually had a 5th fuel injector for this!!! Some lawnmowers depend on a primer bulb only.

    The point is that reducing the time that the "choke" is on will increase the overall mpg. This can cheaply be done with a block heater which many folks might already have. Even in the summer.
  25. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll buy all that, highbeam...in fact, the stock Harley knob for the enrichener had the little symbol for a choke embossed & painted on it, you know the cross-section view of a pivoted restrictor plate in the intake air passage. Never heard of a fifth injector, but those Germans are innovators, and just as you say, there are two parameters involved, and the desired result can be achieved by adjusting either (or both). And, above all, if you don't have to run the mixture rich to keep the engine running, you'll use less fuel in the long run. Rick
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