Be less dependent on energy, prices could skyrocket

The worldwide increase in use of oil and fossil fuels seems likely to result in price increases for fossil fuels, especially oil. Many people predict that oil supplies are not adequate to fill demand. Some predictions are that oil price increases will be in the range of two to three times 2011 prices within the next 10 years. Predictions vary.

It seems prudent to prepare for price increases, especially because some changes caused by those inceases could be severe. Food prices could increase at similar rates because food production and distribution are heavily dependent on the use of oil. Likewise the price of consumer goods is affected by oil prices. If the price of consumer goods rise sharply, people would make fewer purchases. The economy would contract. Unemployment could increase greatly. Some economists are saying that economic conditions could become worse than any in the previous one hundred years.

I have no special insight about the likelihood of such predictions. It seems to me people should prepare for the possibility of high food and energy prices. Preparations now would mean less hardship if and when things get bad. You know the expression: accidents happen when they are the least expected. Well, castrophes tend to be the most severe when you don't prepare for them.

One way to prepare, is to make changes to reduce ones use of oil derived energy, aka gasoline and heating oil. Price increase will be less burdensome if you are able to get by with using less.

If oil prices rise greatly, electricity prices could also rise. It takes gasoline and diesel fuel to mine and transport the coal that produces most of our electricity. The demand for electricity might rise as people switch from use of high priced oil to the use of electricity for heating their homes. Over time, automobiles could most commonly be electrically powered, further raising the demand of electricity. The possibility of high electrical energy prices make it prudent to reducing ones need for electricity. Making changes now instead of waiting for price raises might be best. You reduce the amount you later pay for the high priced energy because you will be using less energy. Likely, the needed changes will cost less now, before everyone else has purchased most of the materials needed to make those same changes. And you get the tasks overwith before high energy cost burden your life.

So here's my own personal list of preparations, starting with the ones that will produce the biggest reductions in use. That is if my hunches are right. Individual circumstances vary so the order could be way off for people with different circumstances.

Insulate the house. Add attic insulation. Prior to 2011 my house had no wall insulation in half of the exterior walls. I rented a cellulose fiber blown insulation machine and corrected that deficiency. It turned out to be a big job since I didn't want to cut holes in the exterior siding and so instead made the installation holes on the inside of the house - a lot of moving furniture and follow-up cleaning was required.

1). If houses windows are single pane, install double pane windows Consider installing insulating window panels for use in winter if your windows are not at least double pane. Another option is to tape polyethylene sheeting to the window trim on the interior side of the window to form another layer. Trapped air acts to insulate and reduce heat flow.

2). Keep driving to a minimum. Buy in bulk so trips to resupply is less frequently required. When practical, order on line and have merchandise delivered. When buying large quantities, shipping cost are often less than my cost for driving to and from a store. Buy all needed items during one trip or as few trips as possible.

3). Drive a fuel efficient car. Plan on purchasing an all electric vehicle when prices come down.

4). Keep thermostat 5 degrees lower in winter, perhaps 60 to 65 degrees F. depending on comfort. Wear a layer or two extra clothes. Add a couple of extra blankets to the bed. If that is too inconvenient, use an electric blanket.

5). Wash clothes in cold water. Set water heater thermostat at lowest level practical.

6). When purchasing new appliances, choose the most energy efficient.

7). Use only enough bath water to get the job done to your satisfaction.

8). Wash and dry clothes in full or nearly full loads.

9). Use flourescent or compact flourescent bulbs instead of incandescent.

Does anyone have additional ways to substantially reduce energy use?

Contributed by Alan Detwiler, self sufficiency advocate and author. Bio at