is energy cost important?

If you spend:

$300,000 for your house,
$30,000 for your car, and
$3 for your gas

is energy cost important?

When one thinks of gas per gallon, the cost is insignificant. However, monthly I spend $120 on gas. That is the same as what I spend on phone, cable and internet services every month! Thought of another way, it is about 10% of my monthly mortgage payment too. That’s alot of dough. Luckily, I can buy a monthly subway pass for $70, something that many in North America can’t.

On a side note, my wife and I were having a philisophical discussion about capitalism v. socialism last night about this very subject. When we started, we were talking about gas, and we both agreed, price controls should be implemented*. Then I said…hey, the same thing creating high gas prices (capitalist market speculation) is the same thing that has driven housing prices through the roof the last 3~5 years. In my area, the housing prices doubled in 1 1/2 years for example. Not surprisingly, the home owners didn’t complain about this. In fact, I don’t recall hearing very much about the housing prices being a problem, at least not as often as gas prices.

*We live in Canada, so socialism is a default for us. Also, in Canada there is strong regional tension leading many in Eastern Canada wanting to benefit from the oil that is located in Western Canada.

3 dollars a gallon is still relatively cheap, but people are already complaining (for the record, I think gas is still too cheap). At some point, you can bet that people will shift from just talking about the price at the pump to actually changing their driving habits.

Good point about the real estate market. When the value of a home increases, the owner is building equity that is transferable, so he or she is less likely to complain. Money spent on fuel is just gone. As that cost becomes a more significant portion of someone’s budget, they will most likely look for easy ways to reduce the cost. For most people, that will be buying a fuel-efficient car.