Thursday, February 11, 2010

True Confessions of a Gas Hoarder

Finally! At long last - the long awaited, much anticipated “TMOTH’s Post on Gas Rationing.” Or, as Rational Mama has implied, my impulse to “hoard.” Of course, I don’t think I have in mind anything as extreme as to be improper or “hoarding.” What I have been thinking of is simply saving some unused gasoline ration for later. I see this no more different than saving up sugar and butter rations for a few weeks to make a cake on a special occasion.

If I started rationing with no fuel in the vehicle tanks, put in my 11 gallons and drive less than eleven gallons worth before the next refueling then next week I will still put in 11 new gallons. In this fashion I would soon have a full 10 gallon gas tank in the car (more than that in the minivan). That would allow me to drive more than eleven gallons worth in one particular week if I had gone less on previous weeks. Now we get to the part where, if there were a real rationing authority, I would probably bend the rules just a little bit. Not a lot mind you, but just a little. I would keep one 5 gallon gas can for emergency (or leisure) trips.

Since we are rationing our mileage instead of actual gasoline I will not have to have a gas can in the garage. Instead, I will put unused miles in an imaginary mileage tank in the garage. Or, for convenience, I suppose we could just keep track of it on a piece of paper. This is, in fact, what we have done. By “we” of course I mean Rational Mama, as she is the great organizer of all things good.

So far we have used a total of 684 out of the 1158 miles that our gas rations could have taken us. That is 59% of our potential driving, leaving us with 474 unused miles so far. Using the storage capacity of the two vehicles plus one 5 gallon back up tank we can save a maximum of 530 unused miles. We call these rollover miles. After that point the miles will be “use it or lose it.” I hope we can resist the urge to drive extra just because we can. After all, one of the points of this exercise is to be mindful of our resource usage. Any unused miles can be happily reported as savings on both the pocketbook and our carbon footprint.

Speaking of mindfulness, I must confess that we haven’t yet had to think much about our driving habits. This is just how much we drive on a regular basis. Some things could be changing, though. My carpool arrangement is in jeopardy as the friend I have been riding with is considering a second job that would take him in the opposite direction at the end of the day. Having to drive myself to work would not put us over the limit by its self. I drove myself last week while he was on vacation and we still had miles to spare. My concern is that when the weather is nicer out I have the habit of heading out of town to “go walkabout” as Crocodile Dundee would say. With the nearest significant “wilderness area” being at least a 30 mile round trip (I’m not exactly sure since I never used to think that much about it), my trips will have to be less frequent and may dip into the rollover miles occasionally. We also will have to plan to save our reserve for visiting out of town family. There is a tradition of making it to a certain nephew’s birthday party that I feel strongly about not sacrificing.

Perhaps I should wrap up as Rational Mama often does by asking questions for reflection. How many miles per week does your household use? How much unnecessary driving do you do? Could you consolidate trips? What travel would you be unwilling to do without?

--The Man of the House

1 comment:

  1. I would hate for tmoth's post to go I'll comment! :) When gas prices were skyrocketing, we were a lot more mindful of where we went or how many "quick trips to walmart" we made, etc. Now that prices have gone back down, relatively speaking, we don't think a whole lot about it. We have always tried to make it 2 weeks on a 1/2 tank of gas per vehicle (truck and SUV). Sometimes, like now, I've got a lot more errands to run (like picking up donations for our school carnival has me going further out of my usual "zone").

    Hubby often has said (but has since learned to STOP saying it) "you're a stay at home mom, you need to stay home sometimes" which always infuriated me, but I have in the last few years tried to make a point of having one day where we DO just stay home. Saves a little on gas that day, lets the girls know that there are things to be entertained with at home, not to mention things that need to get DONE, etc. I don't necessarily like it myself, but that one stay-home-day a week DOES make a difference in trying to stick with the 1/2 tank-every-two weeks thing.

    Though it seems, this year we have been busier with our oldest in school, being involved with that, having a little one going up to MDO, etc etc that I am going more about 10 days on a 1/2 tank. Hubby has commented on more than one occasion about that.