Friday, May 18, 2007

Thoughts on Lowering the Price of Gasoline

No, this isn't one of those stupid emails telling you not to buy gas on May 15. Apparently a lot of people paid attention to that one, because there were no lines at the cheapest station in the area when I went in to buy gas that day. Price went up a lot of places around here on the 16th. Probably just a coincidence, don't you think?

That sort of idiocy won't lower the price of your gasoline. The sellers know you'll be in the day before or after anyway. They know that because most of you are unwilling to change your driving habits in any meaningful way.

Oh I know you think you are UNABLE to change, but for 99.44% of you that is simply a lie. Virtually everyone can conserve just a little -- and that's really all it should take.

Last fall, I did a little experiment. I drove the speed limit for most of my trips around this area. You probably can imagine the sort of road rage this engenders. Really amazing, when there are anywhere from 1 to 3 other lanes available how thoroughly pissy some people can get. I do my bit to save a little gas and some fool wastes 3 times as much riding my bumper until they figure out I'm not going to speed up and then accelerate rapidly to 20 or so miles over the speed limit.

At a 10% improvement in gas mileage, I'm saving $3.50-$4.00 every time I fill up. I save more by combining errands and scheduling sports and music lessons close together. I've worked things out so I only have to fill up every 2-3 weeks, so that's not as big a deal as it might be for some of you.

Make sure your car is in the best possible mechanical condition -- tires inflated properly, oil changed regularly, clean air filter, tune-up when needed. All of those can add varying amounts to the distance your car will go on a tank of gas.

If a hefty enough percentage of the driving population managed to conserve 5-10%, that ought to be enough to actually make a difference in gas prices.

Can't drive slower? I understand. You're afraid someone will blow you off the road. You don't have to slow all the way down to the speed limit. Just knock off 3-5 mph.

Plan ahead -- you may not be able to choose the schedule for your appointments or your children's lessons, but surely you can cut out one short trip every week. It's not that hard, really.

Carpool - even one day a week would make a huge difference if 25% of the population did that.

Even better, use mass transit if it's available. Give some serious thought to walking or riding a bicycle.

You might not see a difference at the pump right away, but if you conserve just a bit, you'll still see a difference in the total that you are paying for gas.

*If it looks like a statistic, I made it up for dramatic effect. I keep hearing that the increasing prices are related to demand. If that's true, decreasing demand is the best way to decrease prices. For the record, I believe that a significant part of the increased price is gouging.

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