When you tutor math, the world brings an endless bounty of numerical comparisons. This specific one has not arisen during tutoring; yet, it might be the kind of summer distraction a reader seeks.
Whether you are buying gasoline, or diesel, or electricity, you are buying energy. To develop perspective on society’s direction towards electric power, somewhat away from fossil fuels, one might ask, “What are the comparative prices of these sources of energy?”
Without doing any math, the sensible conclusion is that electricity is the cheapest form of energy. If it wasn’t, then private citizens would be tempted to buy generators to produce their own electricity. Yet, they don’t seem to be so tempted. Private citizens seem only to use generators when they don’t have access to “line” power. Such contexts are blackouts or remote camps.
Industry prefers diesel over gas, so it’s logical to conclude that, between the two, diesel must be a better bargain.
Let’s sharpen our pencils, then seek some confirmation of our suspicions.
Electricity: I’ve searched the net for the price of electricity in markets spread around North America. It seems that 12 cents per kWh is the US average, according to planet money.
Gasoline and Diesel: Wikipedia says that 1 gallon of gas contains around 33kWh of energy, whereas 1 gallon of the diesel at the pump contains around 38kWh. According to the U.S. eia, the “typical” June price for a gallon of gasoline was $3.69; for diesel, it was $3.91. From those numbers, the price per kWh for gasoline is $3.69⁄33kWh=$0.11⁄kWh or 11¢ per kWh. For diesel, it’s $3.91⁄38kWh=$0.10⁄kWh or 10¢ per kWh.
Well, according to the actual numbers, electricity might be the most expensive up against gas or diesel, while diesel, it turns out, is the cheapest. The prices are all potentially volatile; therfore, the comparisons may not turn out the same even next month. Regardless, I’m surprised.
The price comparisons above are “average” for June in the US. In a given local market, they may be different. Here on the BC coast in Canada, gas is around 16¢ per kWh, whereas household electricity works out to around 9¢ per kWh for typical family usage. So here, electricity is the much cheaper form of energy.
We are left with the question of why electricity seems to be gaining ground over fossil fuels, given the lesson above. Come back for more about energy comparisons in the near future. Here, we’re in another heat wave: enjoy the beautiful summer weather, and try to keep cool:)
Source: Fuel Oil, Wikipedia
Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.