I like to think of myself as an ecologically concerned citizen but, to tell the truth, I’m too lazy to do it “right.” I don’t compost (and I don’t garden). I didn’t recycle until it was convenient. I should probably be more focused on eating locally grown food and fewer high carbon footprint animals. But for all of my shortcomings, I have found the secret to spewing way less pollution into the air when I drive. Best of all, it took zero effort.
Electricity from Wind Farms
First, I signed up for my local electric company’s Pure Power program. For an extra $0.01 per kilowatt hour, Ameren Missouri sources 100% of my electricity from wind farms in Missouri. Most months, this adds $6-7 to my bill, since that penny amounts to roughly a 10% rate hike. It topped out at an extra $16 last July, in the peak of the air conditioning season.
Our home now uses 100% renewable electricity and I did not need to bother installing solar panels, messing around with the paperwork for federal and state rebates on solar energy, or getting set up for net billing with Ameren Missouri.
Plug-In Hybrid Car
Second, I bought a plug-in hybrid car. For the first 20 miles of each trip, the car runs on pure electricity. After that, the gasoline engine kicks in. I have a charger in my driveway and when I park away from home I sometimes plug the car into a regular 110 volt outlet to get a few extra gas-free miles.
This means that I don’t burn much gasoline at all. I have driven my Ford C-Max Energi 9,900 miles over seven months and burned just 104 gallons of gas.
When I talk about it, some people try to turn the conversation to the cost of the electricity or the unfairness of comparing my MPG to the MPG of a regular car but they are missing the point. I have used just 104 gallons of gas for 9,900 miles of driving. All of the rest of the fuel came from wind.
Here is what my dashboard showed yesterday, after driving about 400 miles since my last visit to a gas station on April 28.
As a kid, I learned to “take only pictures and leave only footprints.” It’s nice to find ways to do that as an adult, too.