Your Jan. 3 front-page story on the record high prices for gasoline is to be applauded. This type of news will become more common in the months and years to come as demand for liquid fuel begins to outstrip global supply. We need this news.
The record price of home heating oil also deserves attention. Many of us live in parts of the county that depend on oil heat. A quick check on those prices locally indicates a range from $3.45 to $4.14 a gallon. The Marcellus and Barnett bonanza doesn't help those of us who, like me, don’t have access to gas lines.
As a member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, I’ve been studying this issue for over a decade, and I’ve been preparing. The word on the petroleum street is that these record prices are not going down. Yet, rather than taking the gas pipe over this reality, I have found strategies to keep my costs in balance with my meager budget.
In 2005, I bought my wife a hybrid car for her 55-mile commute. In 2006, I bought a wood pellet stove and heated our house, including hot water, for $450 in my first full winter with it. The following year when our summer-winter oil burner died, we found that the pellet stove heated our 1,200-square-foot house just fine. Putting our new hot-water heater on a timer, our energy costs dropped again, with no loss of comfort or convenience. We planted evergreens to shield the windy side of the house.
I also began to seal air leaks and improve the half-century-old insulation in the house. And last year, I got a better used, hybrid car for my wife. Now, we both have hybrids. I’ve registered with the EnergyWorks program and will soon be able to get some serious work done on the house. We’ll pay off the 0.99 percent loan out of the energy savings.
I mention this in spite of my fixed retirement income and the downturn in my wife’s business. I was taught that being a doer is more productive than being a complainer. I took the Sustainable Building Advisor course at the community college to help me understand energy efficiency and conservation. I volunteer on a number of agencies like my township’s Environmental Advisory Council and the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. I share my experiences there and learn a lot in the process. And the bottom line: It pays off.
I also mention this to highlight the fact that we can choose to not be victims of the new energy reality. There is much we can do if we’re willing to do it.