These are just a few of the simple but meaningful things that we can all do, today or in the near future, to move away from earth depleting petro fuels and forward into the new era of clean renewable natural energy.

How Close Are You To Petroleum Free?

Larry Phillips | Phillips BioFuel Supply Co

These are just a few of the simp
These are just a few of the simple but meaningful things that we can all do, today or in the near future, to move away from earth depleting petro fuels and forward into the new era of clean renewable natural energy.

By Larry Phillips

Are you making as much progress towards a less 'Big Oil' dependent life style as you would like?

While most people are still reeling from oil price shock, a growing number of Americans are making great strides in the effort to lessen our dependence on foreign energy supplies.

From solar to wind to alternative American grown farm fuels, notable progress is being made in this energy consumption evolution. Small and consistent improvements in technology, coupled with an increasingly better educated buying public, have been the key to unprecedented growth in the industry.

While some alternative energy products have a large initial investment and a lengthy cost recovery phase, there are simple things that we can do today and in the short term to begin to wean ourselves off of petroleum fuels for a large part of our heating and transportation needs.


In the market for a new car? Many new cars are being manufactured as 'flex-fuel' cars, meaning that they can run on gasoline or on various ethanol blends. Ethanol is a corn alcohol fuel, and 100% American farm grown. Look for service stations in your area or starting asking local gas station owners to carry it. More information on ethanol availability can be found at: 

You can determine if your car is a 'flex-fuel' model by referring to the owner's manual under fuels, or by checking your vehicle against the list found at: 

However, the best alternative fuel 'bang for the buck' is to locate a diesel passenger car, or light truck or SUV if you prefer, and run it on a 20% (B20) biodiesel blend, available in most larger as well as many smaller cities around the country. Most car and truck manufacturers have diesel powered vehicles available for the buying public. The new Jeep Liberty from Chrysler comes pre-fueled from the factory with B5 diesel. (5% biodiesel blend). And the large Ford and Chevy pick-up trucks become much more environmentally friendly, and quieter and smoother running when fueled on a B20 (20% biodiesel) blend.

Check with your local car dealership to see what may be available. While generally not a special order item, many fewer diesel powered passenger cars, SUV, and light trucks are produced, so it may take some legwork to find a suitable vehicle. But as in most things, the extra effort is worth it.

"Diesel fuel is always going to be more efficient than gasoline," said John Pinson, group manager for diesel engine research at General Motors. Mr. Pinson added that diesel fuel is 12 percent more energy efficient than gasoline, so cars get more miles per gallon. While diesel has been widely accepted in Europe, nitrogen oxide emissions have kept it from being more common in North America.

However, the reality is, that small laboratory increase is more than offset by the actual decrease in net emissions overall, when biodiesel is used at a 20% blend with petroleum diesel. This is referred to as a B20 blend, and is the standard blend for today's diesel powered vehicles.

And some of the benefits gained by using biodiesel are a smoother, quieter running engine, better gas mileage, and an exhaust odor that some compare to French fries. All while supporting American farmers and lessening our oil dependence. Read more at the National Biodiesel Board website. 

A new non-sparking combustion technology, Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), could improve fuel efficiency while reducing nitrogen oxide emissions making bio-fueled diesels even 'greener' than they are today.

The difference between the two fuels is that while ethanol, which is poisonous, is blended with gasoline, biodiesel which is non-toxic, is blended with petroleum diesel, which while still toxic is more stable and less dangerous. (Lower flash point) Pure biodiesel (B100) on its own is very stable, non toxic, and biodegrades faster than table sugar.

For more information on biodiesel see the followings links. 

Your home

Remodeling? Think about installing radiant floor heating. Great energy saver, with the added bonus of toasty toes! More heat, more evenly distributed, for fewer dollars. And there are also aftermarket installations available from reputable dealers. Basically hot water or another fluid is run through piping under your flooring, allowing heat's natural tendency to rise to flow warmth through your floorboards into your living space. Even if you are not remodeling or building new, there are numerous systems that can be installed to supplement or replace your current heating system.

Radiant floor heating has been used for centuries. The Romans channeled hot air under the floors of their villas. The Koreans channeled hot flue gases under their floors before venting them up the chimney. In the 1930s, architect Frank Lloyd Wright piped hot water through the floors of many of his buildings. Some home builders' surveys have shown that, if given a choice, most new home owners prefer radiant floor heat over other types of systems.

For more information on radiant floor heating go to: 

Another helpful resource for radiant heating information is the Dept of Energies' Energy Efficiency and renewable Energy website at: 

If your current home heating system is an oil heat system, ask your oil dealer if they carry biodiesel blended heating oil. If not, then take a few minutes to phone-shop other dealers in your area. Oil dealers in many areas of the nation offer from a 5% to 20% biodiesel blend, sometimes referred to as 'bioheat'. While it may cost a few cents more, you will be doing your part to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil imports. Bonus - Burning a biofuel blend may help extend the life of your heating equipment, and will also increase its efficiency.

If you don't find bio-blended heating oil in your area, get together a list of like minded friends and family, estimate the group's annual fuel usage, and then approach oil dealers in your area. As they realize that the demand is there, they will begin to move forward towards the inevitable eventuality of meeting what their customers, the buying public, wants. Demand driven supply is a very powerful motivator. Remember these folks are in business to make a profit and feed their families. They (or their competitors) will supply what the market demands.

Hardwood Pellets - Technology has made great advances allowing for the installation in residential or commercial size applications of hardwood pellet fired heating systems.

The equipment is controlled from your living quarters the same as you do now for an oil or gas fired heating system, by means of a thermostat in the living space.

Hardwood pellets provide exceptional energy efficiency for about one third less than the price of heating with either oil or natural gas, even with recent increases in wood pellet prices.

The first appeal of pellets is their convenience. Bags of pellets stack compactly and store easily. A ton of pellets can be stacked in an area as small as four feet wide, long, and high, an area about half the space needed for a cord of wood. Bags of pellets can be stored in a small area of a dry garage, basement, or utility room or shed. Pellets are also convenient because they load easily and cleanly into the stove hopper.

Loading the hopper is normally required only once a day and may be even less frequent when the stove is used on low settings. The small size of pellets allows for precisely regulated fuel feed. In turn, combustion air can be regulated easily for optimum burn efficiency since the amount of fuel in the burn pot is predictable and consistent. High combustion efficiency is also due to the uniformly low moisture content of pellets (consistently below 10% compared to 20 to 60% moisture content in cordwood).

Uniformly low moisture, controlled fuel batches, and precisely regulated combustion air means high heat output and a very low level of unwanted emissions. Other environmental benefits besides clean burns result from the use of pellet fuels. As a biomass fuel, pellets offer the advantages of sustainable energy supplies through renewable raw materials.

For more information see: 

These are just a few of the simple but meaningful things that we can all do, today or in the near future, to move away from earth depleting petro fuels and forward into the new era of clean renewable natural energy.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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