Are we addicted to oil or just speed and warmth?

Published 8:05 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2006

By Staff
I got a reality check last weekend on my own personal dependence on oil.
When I got home Friday evening, after putting together the Saturday Niles Daily Star, I went to start making some rice on my gas stove and could only get a small flame to appear.
Strange, I thought, I have had trouble with it lighting, but not coming on with full force.
Since I had been bustling around I was unaware the temperature in the house was also dropping rapidly - down to about 65 degrees.
Finally the information went to my head and added together that for the first time in five years I was out of propane.
I couldn't even warm the house with my fireplace, as it also runs on gas.
I was also ready to throw in a load of underwear, as I had skipped my usual routine on washing that week.
Great! it's cold and getting colder by the minute. I will have no clean underwear in the morning and it is too late to call the gas company to have them make a delivery.
I transferred the rice mixture into the microwave and heated up some leftovers.
Sleeping under a three comforter and quilt combination I found I actually slept pretty well. Getting up to a 54 degrees house though wasn't quite as pleasant.
I used this as an excuse to go out for breakfast and called in a request for a fill.
The company, which usually keeps my tank filled before I run out of propane, came early the next morning after my call. I had four gallons left, they said.
The whole experience made me realize a few things. I really don't need to keep my house quite as warm as I do. I should turn down my thermostat before I go to bed at night and not only will I save gas, I will probably sleep better snug under the covers anyway.
After all the predictions that our gas bills would soar this winter, this fill actually was less per gallon than the one in late December.
All this got me thinking also about how we drive. I have been watching my readout on how many miles per gallon I get and it is amazing how some things can make a few miles difference.
Everyday coming into Niles on M-51, I am passed by people who must really like working - they fly by.
After gunning past, they are usually stopped by a another slower moving car, bus, stoplight, or another vehicle pulling out. Eventually we reach the center of Niles at the same time. I wonder which of us used more gasoline?
According to a press release from Tyler Automotive, every five miles per hour over 65 can decrease your fuel economy by as much as seven percent. That may not seem like much, but over time I am sure it makes a difference.
Many of the accidents I hear on the scanner each day could have been avoided, with less speed.
Going slower will also help if you suddenly see deer on both sides of you, as I did this week.
They say using cruise control helps maintain a steady speed, something I have noticed, especially on highways.
Also those people who “gun” out of a stop also waste fuel.
They also advise you to remove extra weight from the car's trunk. I finally did clean out some stuff from last fall when I went out east.
Just like recycling, we always want to leave saving, whether our environment or our resources, to the other person.
If everyone reduced the amount of gas, by pooling trips and errands together, sharing rides, or by actually doing the tips recommended, think of the impact we could have.