Gas Prices

Stopped to put gas in the Saturn on the way home today. Learned two important lessons:

1. That shit is getting expensive at $4.09 a gallon for regular.

2. That car is much less efficient than I thought – somewhere around 22.5 mpg, at least in the wintertime.

So, with a round trip commute of about eleven miles, I’m burning half a gallon of gas to get to work and back every day. Two bucks a day, five days a week, fifty-ish weeks a year depending on how much vacation time I cash in; that’s five hundred dollars every year, and that’s with an astonishingly short commute and a car that’s not entirely awful on gas.

I’m sure glad bike commuting season is coming up. I’m thinking mid-March this year.

21 Responses to “Gas Prices”

  1. Pitt says:

    Nice to see that we’ve made so much progress in fuel economy from the time when my 4 door compact car was produced in 1967 to the manufacture of your 4 door compact car sometime on the last decade.

    *ducks*

  2. Pitt says:

    I also don’t know that I’d categorize your commute as “astonishingly”. First, if your house was 5.5 miles from your place of work, as the crow flies, and your commute was somehow exactly 5.5 miles, _that_ might be cause for amazement. I could live somewhere where it would take me 5-1/2 miles worth of driving to get to work, too. I wouldn’t consider that a particularly mean feat.

    Second, “astonishingly” is an adverb. “Commute” is a noun.

    Beam me up, Noam!

  3. Pitt says:

    Edit: I see that “astonishingly” is actually modifying “short”, which is an adjective. My knowledge of adverbs modifying adjectives is admittedly limited. So I’ll let that one fly…but I’ve got my eye on you, Mister…

  4. matt says:

    Nice to see that we’ve made so much progress in fuel economy from the time when my 4 door compact car was produced in 1967 to the manufacture of your 4 door compact car sometime on the last decade.

    Embarrassing, isn’t it? I can’t buy a new ICE car that gets better mileage than a Geo Metro did nearly twenty years ago. Hell, I can’t buy a more efficient hybrid than the original circa-2000 Honda Insight.

  5. Pitt says:

    Well, we’ve clearly decided that other things are more important. Some of these priorities have at least a debatable importance relative to fuel economy. Emissions and safety, for example. However, automotive emissions are highly regionally specific. Two cars that get 22.5 miles per gallon emit the exact same amount of Co2 per miles, it’s just chemistry. However, your Saturn emits less of everything else- oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, unburned HCs…which are important, but contribute to pollution on a more regional level, unlike Co2, which is a cumulative greenhouse gas. Co2 levels are more important gloablly, whereas the other pollutant levels are more critical in densely populated areas.

    And then there’s safety. Who can put a price on safety? If it saves even ONE life, ESPECIALLY if it’s a CHILD’S life, well then, by God, damn the cost, we MUST do it! Because all life is invaluable, especially a child’s life! But, only once they’re actually out of the womb…

    As for the other factors that influence fuel economy…your Saturn has A/C, loads of electronic gee-whiz stuff, sound deadening, and other things that make it “comfortable”, at some expense to economy. Modern cars are getting even worse- the last new car I drove (a new Taurus, rental) felt like I was driving around on a solid chunk of metal, hewn into the shape of a car. It was impressive- and incredibly bulky feeling. I think it weighed as much as a ’75 LTD Landau. I blame the car magazines. No car company wants their vehicle to be considered “rattly” or “noisy”. Compare a new Ford Fiesta to the top of the line Lincoln Town Car from the 1970’s. I bet the dB levels in the fiesta are lower.

  6. matt says:

    “Because all life is invaluable, especially a child’s life! But, only once they’re actually out of the womb…”

    I know it’s Friday, but that is some lazy-ass trolling. Come on.

  7. matt says:

    I was surprised to see that the HP figures for a 2001 Saturn SL1 and a 1967 Dart with the small 6 were pretty much the same; I would think that the fuel usage would be attributable to that. The Saturn is even a little lighter, with a four cylinder engine.

  8. Waterwolf says:

    The further we get from the presidential election, the more expensive gas gets. Gas prices were intentionally brought down so that it was not an issue in the election. This guy got reelected…next step is $4.50 and NO Keystone pipeline. Anyone who voted for him shouldn’t complain.

    Wait until the cost of health insurance goes up and you will have to pay taxes on the health insurance benefits you receive from your employer. Look at your W-2. For the first time ever employers had to report the value of health insurance benefits paid to employees. “Big Brother” is collecting information on all of us. 1984 here we come.

  9. Waterwolf says:

    This is from YAHOO:

    Under the Affordable Health Care Act, most employers are required to report the value of health care benefits received by an employee on a 2012 federal form W-2 (a few small businesses are still exempt from reporting under the transitional relief offered by IRS). The amount will be reported in box 12 with Code DD and should include both the portion paid by the employer as well as any amount paid in by an employee. Even though it appears on a W-2, this amount remains federal income tax free for 2012.

  10. Pitt says:

    @matt,

    Remember that HP numbers in 1967 were GROSS, not net, as opposed to your Saturn’s figures. In reality the /6 made about 100HP. It also didn’t have any emissions equipment. But it did make peak torque around 2000 RPM, so gearing was easier.

    Sorry for the weak troll. But really, like 12 people read this blog. 😉 Anyway, it’s just frustrating. Add tot hat everything WW added. As somoene once said, “Yup, new economy. Same old orifice.”

  11. matt says:

    @Waterwolf

    I imagine that the reporting is to calculate whether you’ve got one of those “Cadillac” health plans that earns the extra tax.

  12. BrianN says:

    You guys are getting hosed. Even in Taxichusetts we’re only up to $3.75. That’s why I always try to fill up right before entering the vampire state.

  13. Pitt says:

    Did you ever notice, if a grocery store is having a sale for 5c off of, say, cans of tuna fish, it barely gets noticed, but if a service station has a 5c off Wednesday or something like that, people will line up out onto the street to fill up? And that people will drive significant distances to save essentially insignificant amounts- completely ignoring the general rule of thumb that if you drive one extra mile to save 1c per gallon, generally you just about break even?

    I was at a Shell the other day that used to have a “5c off Wednesday”, but they recently discontinued it. It was a Wednesday, and the fellow filling up next to me was annoyed at the station attendant that they were no longer having the promotion.

    I guess I’m getting old, and value my time and sanity. If the Exxon next to the Shell is 2 cents per gallon more expensive, and there’s a line out the door on the Shell but open pumps at the Exxon, I’ll just go fill up at the Exxon. The difference ends up being about 16 cents.

  14. matt says:

    You’ll save far more money if you spend ten minutes clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper than you will in a month of “5 cent off Wednesday” fillups. But most people can’t be bothered.

  15. Pitt says:

    I think we’re starting to write our own “Freakanomics” book here…

  16. BrianN says:

    What you should do is clip coupons while you wait in line for the gas.

    I’ve found that most money saving ideas are actually time wasting ones.

  17. matt says:

    “I’ve found that most money saving ideas are actually time wasting ones.”

    Having seen how much money can be saved by carefully planning shopping trips with coupons, I couldn’t disagree more.

  18. Pitt says:

    matt’s becoming one of those eXtreme Couponers they show on the discovery channel who goes to the store, fills up their shopping cart, and then ends up getting paid by the supermarket for their trip!

    I did this once, many years ago. The problem was I ended up with a lot of food that I either didn’t normally eat or was kinda bad for you. I still have boxes of Hamburger Helper leftover from that trip- or did, I think we pitched them in the move. I don’t even know if they make Hamburger Helper anymore. That stuff had like 9,000 mg of sodium in a half-cup serving.

    I had a coupon recently for a free ~6 lb roasting chicken with $15 purchase at some Earth-friendly boutique grocer. $15 ended up being 2 pints of dried cranberries and a small piece of cheese. The chicken was tasty, though.

    At the risk of sounding like a hip, new age, enlightened, farm-to-table locavore, we don’t buy much of our food at the grocer anymore. And Farmer Wilson’s cow ate the coupon I gave it, but it didn’t reduce what we had to pay for the gallon of milk.

  19. Pitt says:

    Somewhat related to the original thread: no, they don’t make Geo Metros anymore, and it’s kind of a shame. They’re such fun little cars.

    http://www.roadflares.org/gallery/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6179&g2_serialNumber=2

  20. Pitt says:

    Now with video!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvBKy1EM__I&feature=player_embedded

    N.B., this was not me driving. This time.

  21. matt says:

    matt’s becoming one of those eXtreme Couponers they show on the discovery channel who goes to the store, fills up their shopping cart, and then ends up getting paid by the supermarket for their trip!

    Not hardly. Sue does all of the grocery shopping, and though she does sometimes buy extra stuff to donate to our church’s food pantry, she’s not one of those loons.

    That said, I would estimate that she cuts our grocery bill by at least 60 or 70 percent, if not more. That goes a long way in a family of four.

    I did this once, many years ago. The problem was I ended up with a lot of food that I either didn’t normally eat or was kinda bad for you.

    That can happen. We tend to get a lot of cheese, tuna, pasta, sauce, butter, etc. at a steep discount. There are often rebate offers for things like produce. It doesn’t have to be prepared foods, though we do buy mac and cheese and some other meal-in-a-box stuff.

    And, of course, hygiene supplies like soap, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, etc. are pretty much free if you stock up at the right times. Same with paper goods, cleaning products, etc.

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