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Conserve? Why not.

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In recent weeks I've seen some debates around the web on how effective hybrid cars are versus other forms of energy conservation. While this is all reasonable debate, what seems so obvious to me is that you should be doing ALL the methods you can to conserve energy. Not one or the other. It should never be a question of "Do I want to drive a hybrid car (insert other type of fuel efficient car here) or should I change my light-bulbs to low watt fluorescent ones?"

While I can see the debate over what form of conservation is actually conserving more energy, the fact that people are debating this is a good thing. The more awareness we bring to energy conservation the better off our natural environment will be for it. Frankly, it saves you money in the long run as well, so your wallet will be better for it too. Granted you can argue the initial switch costs money, but you need to think of it over time.

Look at it this way, if you drive a car that currently uses 1000 litres (10,000 kms of driving at 10 litres / 100 kms - I know, pretty low, but we will keep it this way for easy math) of a fuel in a year, your switch to a hybrid car could (should) cut that by 400 (40% - likely more) litres. So you only consume 600 litres of fuel in the following year. If gas costs $1.25 / litre, you have saved $500 in fuel costs. You have also prevented the expulsion of 2.36 kg of CO2 per litre of fuel burned, which totals a whopping 944 litres of CO2 that did not get released into the atmosphere. Even if a hybrid car costs on average $5K more than a regular car of the same make, if gas prices did not increase over the course of 10 years (which is not going to happen) you would realize the difference in purchase costs of the hybrid vehicle inside a decade of ownership. If you drive a car that uses 3000 litres a year, then you would realize the savings in 3.5 years!

Obviously not everyone can switch to a hybrid of some sort, but for those that can, you should be looking at hybrids first and then working downwards to a standard combustion engine. Anyhow, my math is rough, so you can do your own comparisons over at the hybridcenter.org (imperial units, but you get the point).

The bottom line is that energy conservation should be a tenant in your life style. It saves money. It saves emissions. It saves the planet. Call me a hippy or a neo-green or a sheep for falling in line, but if it means my kids get to enjoy the areas of the planet as we know them now, then I'm all for getting on this energy conservation / savings band-wagon. Hell, I'll even drive it for awhile if anyone wants me to!