Oil and natural gas production in the Gulf Coast area probably will not recover from this year's hurricanes until next summer, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said Thursday, urging conservation as the cost to heat homes is expected to soar this winter.
"The infrastructure of our country took a real blow with Hurricanes Rita and Katrina," Bodman told reporters outside the White House.
"Even to this day, we have about a third of the natural gas and a third of the oil that is produced in the Gulf of Mexico still shut-in due to the damage that was done," he said. "That's not going to be back up and online, my guess is, until summertime."
His department's Energy Information Administration recently predicted that households heating with natural gas can expect to spend from 50 percent to 70 percent more this winter, depending on location. The agency this week scaled back its heating cost predictions slightly because of mild weather in November.
But with the recent onslaught of cold, stormy weather in the Midwest and Northeast, natural gas prices surged on Thursday by 9 percent to a new high of nearly $15 per thousand cubic feet for gas to be delivered in January. A year ago the price was $7 per thousand cubic feet.
And now for the quote I don't understand:
"The president recognizes that energy costs, if you're running a home, energy costs that you have are really the one item in your budget that you don't have any control over," said Bodman.Of course you have control over your energy costs. You can forgo a few nights out at the TGIFriday's, and perform basic upgrades to your home (caulking windows, new door sweeps, begin upgrading attic insulation). Put off buying that new Ford Explorer (or even that Prius) and you could replace a few energy-sucking windows, or have insulation blown in. If you live in a McMansion, close off the heat to a few rooms that you never go in on a regular basis. If you're less fortunate, buy window sealing kits, and cut down on your drafts, stuff towels around door ways, and buy reminant carpet to take the chill off of the wood floors. Take a lunch for a few days, and then buy a programmable thermostat to have the heat reduced during the day and at night when you're sleeping ($30?). Replace lightbulbs with CFL (compact flourescent lightbulbs) now at a cost of around $3/bulb and 1/3 the energy use. Then there are the cost free methods, such as wearing an extra layer of clothing, using cozy blankets on the couch and snuggling up with a loved one to keep the thermostat lowered. And like my dad always said, "TURN OFF THE DAMN LIGHTS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE ROOM!"
Conservation reduces demand, and reduces energy costs.