Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Simpler Solution to the Energy Crunch

First, Double Nickels.

We need to institute what was done by Congress under President Nixon: impose a national speed limit that maximizes highway mileage, which is 55 miles per hour. This measure, when it was adopted the first time, not only cut consumption of gasoline and diesel fuel by several percentage points, adding 2 to 3 miles per gallon to the nation's average highway fuel economy, but also saved thousands of lives per year by reducing highway traffic accidents, and the best part of it was that no one hadto retool car manufacturing, revamp gasoline formulations, spend money on alternative energy schemes, some of which remain dubious in cost recovery, or impose punitive taxation to limit consumption at the pump to achieve the same benefits. Even a 1 or 2 percent reduction of gasoline consumption would add many thousands of barrels of fuel a day, in effect, to the nation's fuel supply.

Second, Sixty-Eight/Seventy-Five.

We need to pass a law requiring business establishments and government offices nationwide to set their heating thermostats no higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit during colder weather, and air conditioning no lower than 75 degrees for summer weather. This should include EVERY business, no exceptions. In addition to this, advertising should be funded strongly encouraging private homeowners and renters to conserve energy by setting their thermostats to the same limits, 68 degrees maximum for heat, 75 degrees minimum for air conditioning. Besides conserving energy this would also encourage healthier living, because heat that is set too high fosters the multiplication of viruses and bacteria indoors, and A/C set too low tends to encourage the spread of mold and mildew, as well as impacting the immune system through excessive exposure to chill in the warm season. These factors are probably responsible for literally millions of respiratory illnesses every year that take enormous amounts of man-hours out of the economy and seriously impact our already beleaguered health care system.Let's do this now, since they would be easy to implement (compared to other measures) and with oil prices nearing $100 a barrel, both measures would be very timely and would put downward pressure on the price spiral that has been taking place.

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