by The Other Katherine Harris
The Other Katherine Harris’s blog
June 28, 2008
Given the impact of speculative greed on gasoline and food prices, it’s hard to enjoy a picnic this summer, let alone a vacation trip — but these will seem like the good old days, come fall and winter. We’ll be not only hungry and house-bound then, but also freezing our fannies off, because the cost of natural gas is rising at nearly twice the rate of oil!
So far this year, natural gas is up by a whopping 76 percent. That makes the oil price hike look puny at 42 percent and even outdoes corn’s riot-inducing 58 percent increase.
Don’t think you’re off the hook, if you heat with electricity. Many power plants are running on natural gas these days, including virtually all built since the turn of the century. This is one reason why it’s a can’t-miss bet for futures traders — the additional causes being an explosion of McMansions across the landscape and the biofuels boondoggle. (Few realize how much natural gas it takes to grow and distill agrofuels, but the hedge funders and other predators definitely get it.)
BTW, for those who heat with oil and think maybe they’ll catch a break for a change, don’t bank on it. The outfit now holding the largest supply of heating oil in New England is Morgan Stanley, as came out in a recent Congressional hearing on commodities market manipulation. Their actually taking delivery of the stuff is no doubt a ploy to keep themselves in the game, if purely financial investment is finally restricted — but those capable of such a dramatic move can be assumed capable of profiting richly from it in every way.
So, in “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” spirit, it would behoove us to prepare during warm weather for the heating season. It’s obviously a lot more comfortable to replace inefficient windows, improve insulation, futz with weather-stripping and so forth, before cold winds start to blow, and such efforts will be rewarded also by savings on air conditioning. I intend to install seriously thermal window-coverings, having read that they produce remarkable bang for the buck, and look into adding some skylights and south-facing windows for solar gain. Even projects that might have seemed unaffordable previously deserve to be reconsidered in the light of natural gas rates poised to double — or worse — by the time you turn your furnace on again.