13. April 2008 · Comments Off on Gas Prices, Plus Some Experiment Results · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,


Today I finally got up the nerve to submit a local gas price to the Raleigh Gas Prices website. I figured I’ve been using the site so much, and the station right outside of my neighborhood’s entrance (it has a single entry/exit, more on that for another posting) is hideously expensive, I thought I’d get an account and start reporting what I see.

For those geography geeks, here is a cool map of gas prices across the U.S. Note the local minimum in South Carolina — I make a point of filling up in McColl, SC, where I usually cross the state line when driving down to Shaw AFB for drill. Further down on the page is a map of North Carolina, but you can enter any city/state or zip code and look at more localized price information.

“So how did you do on your grand experiment?”

Yes, I was just getting to that…

In case you were wondering, here’s a description of the experiment. Unfortunately, Dave and I took a temporary hiatus from the single-vehicle experiment during my drill last weekend, plus this week we had several occasions to use separate vehicles. I’d like to return to the schedule next week, but we’ll see. I will be watching a friends’ kids on Wednesday, so I’d definitely need the van to fit 4 little boys in their booster seats!

We were able to drive the van a limited amount on ONE tank of gas from March 8th through April 1st. The Prius cost us $25-30 to fill up about every 6 days. So we used about 4 tanks of gas in the Prius. Typically we spend $250-275 per month on gas, in the time period in question, we were able to spend only about $150 for gas. A nice cost savings, I must say! We put about 1000 miles on the Prius in that time frame. That took into account a round trip to Pope AFB (120 miles total) and one round trip to Dalzell, SC, about 400 miles total.

Overall, it was a cool thing to try out for a solid month, but in practice, we simply live too far away for it to work while we’re still in NC. Maybe it can become our lifestyle in NE this fall, we’ll see. The Prius was getting about 18 extra miles on it daily since it had to make two trips to campus instead of just the one, and the time the boys and I had to take every evening to pick up Dave could be better spent than sitting in the car.

But – if gas prices continue to climb, this is something I’m willing to make the time for 2-3 times per week, provided Dave isn’t driving anywhere during the day.

13. March 2008 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Well, while the enthusiasm is there to have our family live with just the one car, in practice we discovered some “issues”.

First, Dave usually leaves his office around 5:30pm. If I’m doing a labor-intensive dinner, such as a stir fry where I’m chopping veggies and standing over the stove for a few minutes, taking the 40 minutes to go out and pick up Dave every day would be a challenge. With the time change, though, we’ve been having dinner closer to 7pm lately, so we might be able to swing it…at least for our experiment.

If I do simple dinners, such as casseroles and quick homemade pizza, and if I prepare everything ahead of time so I throw it all together as soon as we get home, it can be done. Tonight it was homemade cheesesteaks with raw baby carrots and Ranch dip. 15 minutes.

Also, Thursday is soccer night for Jake, at 5:30pm. So I’d have to pick up Dave at 5pm on the nose to get back to Apex in time for soccer. Dave is willing to work from home on Thursdays, which would be great! I can make a fancy dinner on Thursdays, at that!

So today I drove about 60 miles in just the Prius. That would be ~1 1/2 gallons of gas, compared to 3 gallons it would have been in the van. This morning I dropped off Jake at preschool at 9am and then went straight to campus and was able to drop off Dave around 9:20am. Dave usually is at his office from 9:30am-5:30pm.

I drove Daniel home from the park today, and we had to cram his booster seat into the back of the car along with Jake’s booster and Timmy’s 5-point convertible seat. The seats all fit, but it was barely so and the seat belting was certainly an effort. But we were legal!

Picking up Dave was an adventure. I can’t remember ever being on campus at 5:30pm…what a nightmare, between the auto traffic leaving campus, the students walking everywhere, and the buses stopping every 50 feet. I pulled a “stupid” and tried this roundabout way to get to Dave’s building that wasted about 10 minutes. I ended up behind a bus that was stopping at each bus stop. Argh!

Jake, however, enjoyed his views of the young pretty girls. He asked me to put down his window (it was 65 degrees!) while I was crawling through campus traffic and he was hanging out the window yelling “HI!” to the girls. Of course the girls were swooning over cute-little-Jake. What a ham!

12. March 2008 · 7 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

So…we own two vehicles. Dave drives the Toyota Prius to/from work (20 miles per day), while I take the boys around in a Honda Odyssey (more than 20 miles per day, usually closer to 50).

Don’s blog now has an RSS feeder streaming his favorite news articles related to Electric (EV) and Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) vehicles. I also noticed our local Citgo station’s unleaded gas (corner of Penny and Ten Ten Rds.) is going for $3.29/gallon (look here and scroll down to the list of most expensive gas…and YES PAUL, that’s Costco with the cheapest gas in the area!).

It got me thinking: how much gas (read: how much money) could we save if we tried to live with one car for a while…just the Prius?

Right now we average 1 tank of gas per week for the Prius (about $28), and 1.5 tanks of gas per week for the van (about $75). I wonder if we could do everything in a week on 2 gallons in the Prius?

Could we save ($28+75) – ($28+$28) = $47 per week? $200 per month? $2400 per year?

12. January 2008 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,
*Any Ren and Stimpy fans out there????

Meet our Prius. It was our Christmas present in 2005, although we waited till Jan 1, 2006 to pick it up so that we could take advantage of Toyota’s incredible $3500 tax credit in 2006. That was a SWEET tax refund that year. This year won’t be so nice.

Anyway, some argued that we were taking a gamble about gas prices choosing to buy a somewhat expensive car that would only be cost effective if gas prices stuck around above about $2.50 per gallon. Judging from the graph, I’d say we’re close. The prices have not delved lower than the last line on this graph (courtesy of DOE).

It’s sort of a game for Dave and me to try to outdo each other with the Highest Mileage Contest. Day-to-day, Dave is the winner by a long shot. He will turn off all the accessories (including the heat in the winter, A/C in the summer) to maximize his mileage. He’s definitely more gentle with the gas pedal than I ever am.

I might actually have the best record on a long drive, averaging 51 mpg on a trip from Raleigh to my Mom’s house in Norfolk, VA in May 2006 without the added load of the kids in the backseat. Everything was perfect: the warmer temperatures, the downgrade of the trip, the relatively flat terrain once you’re in Emporia, VA.

I get to use the Prius on my trips to South Carolina for drilling, and it’s certainly nice to make the entire trip: 6 hours roundtrip, on ONE tank of gas. About $30 right now.