Monday, June 30, 2008

The Importance of Being Earnest

When we rented a car from the Oakland Airport Hertz a couple of weeks ago, I faced the dilemna of dropping off the car and getting home without having Jenny follow me and then driving me home. I wanted to be able to let Jenny stay at home with the kids while minimizing the time and cost of a trip home. A taxi ride home from Oakland Airport, for instance, would have set me back around $20 plus tip.

I decided to take only mass transit to get home. Here is what transpired (times are approximate):

0) Drop off Rental Car - 8:30PM
1) Rental Shuttle to Airport Terminal - 8:40PM (free)
2) AIR BART Bus to Coliseum Bart Station - 9:00PM ($3)
3) BART from Coliseum to Fruitvale Station - 9:15PM ($1.50)
4) AC Transit Bus from Fruitvale to High Street - 9:30PM ($1.75)
5) Walk home - 9:35PM (free)

Thus, I was able to get home using mass transit at a cost of only $6.25 in a little over an hour without havng Jenny or a taxi drive me home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Al Gore Uses 100 Times More Electricity Than Me

According to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (a conservative think-tank), Al Gore's average household electric bill is 17,768 KWH per month at an annual cost of $16,533. To add insult to injury, the Gore household's electric usage actually increased by 10% after they "went green". The details:

In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President’s home energy use surged more than 10%, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

“A man’s commitment to his beliefs is best measured by what he does behind the closed doors of his own home,” said Drew Johnson, President of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. “Al Gore is a hypocrite and a fraud when it comes to his commitment to the environment, judging by his home energy consumption.”

In the past year, Gore’s home burned through 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to power 232 average American households for a month. In February 2007, An Inconvenient Truth, a film based on a climate change speech developed by Gore, won an Academy Award for best documentary feature. The next day, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research uncovered that Gore’s Nashville home guzzled 20 times more electricity than the average American household.

After the Tennessee Center for Policy Research exposed Gore’s massive home energy use, the former Vice President scurried to make his home more energy-efficient. Despite adding solar panels, installing a geothermal system, replacing existing light bulbs with more efficient models, and overhauling the home’s windows and ductwork, Gore now consumes more electricity than before the “green” overhaul.

Since taking steps to make his home more environmentally-friendly last June, Gore devours an average of 17,768 kWh per month –1,638 kWh more energy per month than before the renovations – at a cost of $16,533. By comparison, the average American household consumes 11,040 kWh in an entire year, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Al Gore is quite the energy hog. His Tennessee home uses at least 100 times more electricity than my modest home. Now that's a hypocrite!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Electric Bill is $17.18, What's Yours?

I am pleased to announce that our electric bill has gone below $20 last month. Not including taxes, it is barely over $13. It would appear that we are well on the way towards a $10 monthly electric bill, which we've been able to reach the past 3 years during the summer months. All this was accomplished without the use of CFC light bulbs or purchases of new appliances. Just good 'ol fashioned frugality.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Old Book and Toy Giveaway

My kids don't have a lot of toys and books--everything they've had the past 5 years fits into 4 or 5 legal-size file boxes--but I've been struggling to find a good place to send them. I've thought about giving then to the Salvation Army, but at their local thrift store, I noticed that they don't sell too many of these items. And I haven't really gotten into the Alameda Freecycle swing of things.

Luckily, Russell and Punky's some-time baby-sitter is starting up her own daycare business. So she recently asked us to donate our old toys and books to her for the kids to play with. I'm really happy that these toys and books--many of which are 2nd and 3rd generation hand-me-downs--will be put to good use. Our baby-sitter is a good person and I hope that her business succeeds. Let me know if you need a good daycare provider with a lot of good books and educational toys (like puzzles and building sets).

Monday, June 2, 2008

Saving Money on Our Electric and Natural Gas Bills

I'm pleased to announce that our electricity and natural gas bills have arrived and that we're on target to reducing our energy bill to about $50 a month for combined usage. The electric bill is about $20, which I am hoping to reduce down to $10 during the summer months. The natural gas bill is much harder to cut back because it's mostly based on our use of the stove to cook our meals. It runs us about $1 a day. I suppose that if we switched to eating salads more often, that would save us on our natural gas bill, so I'll make that suggestion to Jenny.

For our electric bill, we have not converted to the government-mandated (expensive and mercury-laden) CFC light bulbs. Instead, I've stocked up on the older, American-made incandescent light bulbs at Wal-Mart, where they sell for less than 50 cents a bulb--about one-fifth the cost of the CFC bulbs that are all made in China. I'm going to continue regular purchases of the older bulbs until I get around a 5-7 year supply of them. Hopefully, Congress will come to its senses and reverse the ban on these light bulbs.

In order to save money, we 've continued to simplify our lifestyle and not purchase expensive, energy-intensive appliances such as big-screen TVs and surround-sound systems. Recently, I donated a brand-new Krups coffee maker--still in its original box, unopened--to the Salvation Army. Previously, I donated a brand-new electric hot water heater (also in an unopened box) that we received as a wedding present to Goodwill Industries.

On a related note, whenever we go over to friends' and family's houses, I've noticed that everyone has those large, newfangled rice cookers with built-in handles. We continue to use the original 4-cup Panasonic rice cooker that I bought 20 years ago when I went to graduate school. It still works perfectly. Eight years ago, I lost the power cord when moving to our Oakland house, but rather than purchase a new rice cooker, I ordered a new power cord for $5 from Panasonic.

It's still all about saving money!


The Real No-Impact Man