Feb 13

RideSearch.com

The following is a paid advertisement for RideSearch.com.

Out here in California where the traffic levels are truly insane and most people can not afford to live near where they work, the cost of commuting is significant.

Take my situation, for instance: I live 43 miles from my office. On the average traffic day, the trip to work takes around 45 minutes. Coming home, it generally takes me an hour. On occasion, the one way trip from work to home can take up to three hours.

I know. That in itself is insane.

But let’s look at the cost of that commute. I drive a Toyota Matrix that averages 30 mpg. The round trip uses 2.8 gallons of gas.

The cheap gas by my house right now is $3.22/gallon. That means the gas alone costs me $9.01 every day.

I cross a toll bridge on the way home. That’s $4/day.

AAA averages the cost of car ownership, including insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc at $.35/mile. That equals $30.10 per day of driving to work.

The grand total: $43.11. PER DAY! The average work month has 20 days in it. Wanna do the math on that one? No? Ok, fine… I’ll do it.

That’s $862.20 per month.

California has a great RideShare system that allows you to connect with people around you that you could carpool with. Sharing the costs of the commute with just one other person cuts your commute costs in half. Add additional people to the carpool, and you can drop it by even more.

If you’re not in California where you can take advantage of RideShare, you can use the new service provided by RideSearch.com. They will get you in touch with people in your area who are looking to help offset the costs of their commute.

I carpooled for a couple of years when I first moved here. It was great not having to drive every day, and having someone to talk to when you’re stuck in a ridiculous traffic jam for two hours is almost priceless.

RideSearch.com offers tons of information on choosing the perfect carpool, how to remain safe, and how to calculate your savings.

Not only can you save money, you can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and for once, you can drive in the HOV lane legally.

Nov 14

Save the Earth by Washing Dishes

Save The EarthMatt at Debriefing the Boys brought up a question today that poked me into writing something I’ve been meaning to mention before…

If you’ve been playing along at home, you know already that I recently started working at the National Laboratory where I used to work. What you may not know is that I am now working in the Environmental Energy Technologies division.

My desk is surrounded by people who very recently shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for their work in environmental studies.

My boss is spearheading a project that, among other things, provides solar energy to remote villages in Africa and replaces their very old and extremely polluting appliances with energy efficient models and upgrades.

I’ve been learning a lot of new information that frankly comes as a huge surprise to me, and as that information flows my way, I’ve decided that I’m going to share it with you.

Don’t worry, I will still be sharing inane conversations, gross videos, beefcake, and the best that the bigots have to offer… I just want to do something else socially responsible to help offset the noxious fumes that Avitable and Killer release into the atmosphere. Just trying to help.

Matt asked on his blog:

[…] Specifically, I can’t figure out whether to eat off proper dishes, glasses and silverware, or to use disposables (or, more accurately, recyclables). The choice would be easy anywhere else in the country, I think. Obviously you should use dishes and wash them.

But in California, at least in the summer, we have droughts and energy crises. Running the dishwasher uses tons of water and electricity, which require all sorts of harmful energy to produce. I suppose we could wash the dishes by hand, but that would still take a lot of water. At least it does when I do it.

Here’s the answer I left:

“The amount of energy used to create “real” dishes gets spread out over the life of the dish. The longer you use them the better it is for the environment.

For example, if the creation/cleansing/disposal of one plate equals a carbon output of 1 metric ton, you can spread that 1 ton over the lifetime of the dish… say you use the dish for 10 years, you’ve effectively made the footprint of that dish equal to 0.1 metric ton/year.

If the creation/disposal of 100 paper plates also equals 1 metric ton of carbon emissions even if you use just one plate per day, the footprint becomes 3.65 metric tons/year.

Your best bet is using a real plate, washing it using a fully loaded energy-efficient dishwasher during non-peak energy demand times. Also, make sure you use phosphate-free detergents.

The emissions numbers I stated above are merely hypothetical, though if you are truly interested in the real numbers I could probably find the data.”

The simple truth is that one of the biggest things you can do to lessen your carbon footprint on the earth is make sure your house is equipped with recently manufactured (newer than 10 years) energy-efficient appliances that you use during off-peak hours. Do your laundry (older washers and dryers are notoriously inefficient) while you sleep. Make sure your filters are changed regularly on your home furnace/central air. If you make some simple changes in your household habits (that you should make to save yourself some money anyway) you’ll be doing a large part to save the earth.