As Hurricane Rita bears down on Texas and the Gulf Coast, drivers around the country are wondering what effect this latest storm will have on already high gas prices. The projected path of the storm takes it toward oil rigs, pipelines and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, where about a fourth of the U.S. refining capacity is located.
It was just a few weeks ago when Hurricane Katrina’s devastating blow to Louisiana and nearby states sent gas prices above $3 in most of the country. While these prices have come down somewhat, we’re all still feeling “sticker shock” at the pump.
In response to the effects of these storms, the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has just revised its popular energy note on “Energy Efficient Transportation for Florida.” It offers many tips to help conserve gas and drive more efficiently, including suggestions for maintaining your car, efficient driving strategies, wise use of air conditioning and a look at future hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles. The information will be useful to drivers in all parts of the country.
Danny Parker, a principal research scientist at FSEC, has updated his original article this week in preparation for the possibility of another significant increase in gas prices from the latest storm. His new information includes data on the effects of gas mileage from air conditioner use, shedding extra weight in the trunk, the effects of unnecessary engine idling, and even how aggressive driving can waste gas.
The updated publication is available at www.fsec.ucf.edu/pubs/energynotes/en-19.htm.
Parker notes that “in the worst case scenario, Hurricane Rita’s effects could lead to petroleum supply disruption on an unprecedented scale. But even at best, refined oil products — gasoline — could be in temporary short supply and at high cost. Consumers can make their fuel — and money — go a lot further by driving as efficiently as possible.”
The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficiency buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, fuel cells and other energy areas. For more information about the center, visit www.fsec.ucf.edu or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at (321) 638-1015.