The popular attention is getting a tighter focus on the costs for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel – the fuels we use to get ourselves where we want to be and get the things we want close enough to buy them. Those costs are on a steep climb up. You’re going to hear a lot about “saving” and “conserving” and all manner of pointy fingers will come out and make no difference at all.

Let’s be clear – you don’t use too much energy or fuel. While North Americans and other developed countries use a disproportionate amount, little of what is actually used isn’t much of a waste at all. The developed world enjoys widely diverse economies and deep resources to cope with the dynamics of cost impacts. You might note that the price of oil has increased over a period of years and is only now becoming a major issue.

It’s what we waste that matters. Much more than half, in some instances more than 85% of the energy or fuel we paid for is wasted – gone – money and power never to be seen again. That SUV might on a good day be 16 or 17% efficient using 8 or 9 gallons of fuel to get you 100 miles. Its worth a pittance now, too, and will be even more worthless with each up tick in the price of oil.

In raw numbers an SUV that went 100 miles burned through about $35 using 8 or 9 gallons. The 100 mile driver of the 35-mpg anything burned through about $12 of less than 3 gallons. Some body wasted at least 5 gallons of fuel. In perspective, that fuel wasted by the SUV owner isn’t on the market so the price will be even higher again tomorrow. Another perspective is the efficiency waste – just for simplicity say both vehicles are 20% efficient, the SUV used 1.6 to 1.8 gallons and wasted about 7 gallons, the 35 mpg vehicle used 0.6 and wasted about 2.4 gallons.

The waste of a gas-guzzler is much worse than first thought; it’s more than 3 times as wasteful to use an SUV.

It gets worse with more ways to look at it. The SUV’s waste is equal to 300 miles of travel by someone using 35-mpg vehicles. It’s a surprise that people haven’t caught on to the horrific damage the gas-guzzlers are doing to the world economy.

On the other hand . . . both vehicle choices waste in a factor of 4 as the efficiency we choose was a generous 20%. While the guzzler takes 3 times its travel off the market driving up prices, both vehicles efficiencies still waste 80% of the energy in the fuel.

It takes no genius to see the instant first step is to get gas-guzzlers off the road. That might be the hard political part to follow up on the market effect, as some people will need another economic booster to get their guzzlers out of their cold dead hands.

It’s the second step that is more interesting. That factor of 4 is where the gold lies. Guzzlers will die their inevitable deaths at accelerated rates, but getting efficiencies doubled and more using internal combustion will be harder or truthfully – nearly impossible. We need a better converter of fuel to energy.

Can it be done? Sure, the market will find a way.

I can remember President Jimmy Carter telling the U.S. we had to save oil by using less electricity, turn down the thermostat (or up in the summer) as oil played a major role in generating electricity. In about a decade oil nearly disappeared from electrical generation and remains at less than 2% burning oil products that are mixed, old, contaminated and other very low value types. Times have changed, but oil is still a problem.

Petroleum fuels are just incredibly handy, packing a great deal of energy in small volumes. It’s how its used that is the problem – the net use vs. the waste is the issue that each of us needs to address. One example that just gives an informed fuel buyer a sick feeling is that the $1 of energy lost in momentum at red lights cost $5 in the first place and $5 more to get back up to speed. That might be something you want to point out when getting the traffic lights properly timed comes up at a city council meeting.

The short term solution, the right now, save your family budget, keep the economy going, buy time to the alternative fuels and energy of the future lies in efficiency.

Just keep in mind; doubling your efficiency cuts the fuel cost by half. It’d be like $2 gas again! Hey! Tripling efficiency would be like $1.33 gas!

I want those traffic signals fixed and my 60 mpg car sooner rather than later.


9 Comments so far

  1. Sarah on August 5, 2010 1:15 PM

    Thanks so much for writing this good information! Looking forward to seeing more blogs!

  2. Lizzy on August 17, 2010 10:08 AM

    Thanks very much for posting this good content! Looking forward to checking out more blogs!

  3. Kathy on August 19, 2010 10:23 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing this excellent info! I am looking forward to checking out more.

  4. Stacia Aipopo on May 23, 2011 7:14 PM

    I REALLY liked your post and blog! It took me a minute bit to find your site…but I bookmarked it. Would you mind if I posted a link back to your post?

  5. Elroy Burdge on May 26, 2011 5:43 PM

    I would like to say “wow” what a inspiring post. This is really great. Keep doing what you’re doing!!

  6. Isiah Calligan on August 30, 2011 10:01 AM

    Intriguing post. I have been searching for some good resources for solar panels and discovered your blog. Planning to bookmark this one!

  7. Isreal Tacheny on August 31, 2011 9:11 AM

    Good! Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?

  8. Adelle Duggin on September 8, 2011 10:18 AM

    I was just having a conversation over this I am glad I came across this it cleared some of the questions I had.

  9. Jennifer Himmelwright on September 27, 2011 9:44 AM

    I’ve just started off a blog, the knowledge you give on this site has aided me extremely. Thank you for all your time & work.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind