Ever wondered what percent of your income now goes to buying gasoline? In some areas, gas is now over a third of household income. That brings getting to work and back on fossil fuels almost as expensive as keeping a roof over your head. (Ideally, a mortgage should not be over a third of your income.)
A vast new mapping tool put out by the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index lets you zoom in on your neighborhood to see a great many indices of housing and transportation affordability in a series of interactive maps, that you can set to see a great deal of data that assess the costs of living in various regions, in various ways.
The site is a vast treasure trove of information. I just checked out one comparison:
I mapped (link) the cost of gas over the last eight years in the East Bay, and found just how much more it costs to live in the suburbs here than close to cities, for driving, in my area.
It incorporates data about numbers of jobs in the area, and shows just how expensive it was in 2008 to try and drive to work from there. The cost of gas throughout 2008 is the future for gas costs as oil peaks.
What is even more fascinating, the maps show just how very much more unaffordable some neighborhoods became over the last eight years:
Some implications of these maps? These red regions on the map show where switching to solar and installing enough power to switch to electric cars (as they come on the market) will be a huge incentive, with the greatest payback.
That is because some of these regions in the suburbs near me also happen to pay the highest household electricity costs in California, because you can spend as much as $400 a month on electricity, (because you need air conditioning, away from the Bay).
As PG&E rates have skyrocketed for “top tier” electricity consumers, companies like SunRun and Solar City and organizations like 1 Block off the Grid can now beat PG&E electricity pricing so you can switch to clean safe permanent solar power for as little as zero money down ($0 typically if your bill is higher than around $150 a month).
So if you live in the red region of the Bay Area – it will increasingly make sense to plan to make your own solar power to drive to work on.
Disclaimer: the author has organized solar neighborhoods for 1Block off the grid, which is owned by Virgance (which also runs cleantechnica), sent her neighborhood to Solar City solar-neighborhood info meetings, and is finally getting solar installed at her own house, courtesy SunRun.
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.