03/16/2011 07:53 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Running on Empty

The other weekend I went up the mountains with my friend Larry; since he drove, I offered to pick up the gas. On the way home we stopped to fill up his car and the bill was over $50 - and his tank wasn't even empty. Nationally, the price of gas averaged about $3.50 a gallon this month and some experts predict that a gallon of gas will hit five dollars later this year. Those of you who drive to work every day and now composing comments to this blog that say, "tell us something we don't know!"

We know that generally when the price of gas goes up that car usage is not significantly affected because most of us use our cars primarily to drive to and from work. But what happens when you telework, say, two days a week? On average, you will save about $900 a year at the current price of gas. That increases to over $1,250 when gas gets to five dollars a gallon. Anyone out there not interested in a little extra cash these days? Another way to look at it is that if you telework two days a week, you will pay less in gas costs even if gas prices rise to over five dollars a gallon. In fact, gas would need to get to almost six dollars a gallon before you pay more than you do today to drive to the office five days a week.

So what happens if we reduce our use of gas? Economists tell us that lower demand increases supply and will result in lower prices. Oil prices are being pushed up right now by the unrest in the Middle East and a perceived threat to the supply. So can telework really bring down the price of gas? I'll leave that for the economists to argue about, but there is no doubt that it will definitely reduce the cost to the individual teleworker (see above) and will lower our dependence on foreign oil.

We all know the supply of oil is finite, and that eventually we will need to find better ways to power our cars, ships, and planes. If you haven't heard this staggering figure yet, it's time you should. The U.S. consumes approximately 25 percent of the world's daily oil demand; however we only comprise four percent of the world's population. Let's face it; we are addicted to oil, and we are paying a huge financial and political price because of it.

Conserving what we have left is a good way to ensure that we have the time to develop alternative sources and build the infrastructure to make them practical before we are forced to really ration this limited resource. Emerging technologies such as electric cars, hydrogen fuel cells, and bio-fuels are the long-term answer to our dependence on foreign oil, but we need strategies we can implement today.

Oh, and if you want to talk some more about telework, join me at the upcoming Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting on April 28th in D.C. The theme really speaks to our current climate - work smart and save big. More information is available at

If you want to continue the dialogue on telework, write to me at or visit my blog at