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For home appliances, the ‘good old days’ are now: They’re cheaper, better and more energy efficient than ever before
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Thanks to ongoing advances in energy-saving technologies, the chart above shows the significant increases in the energy efficiency of five common home appliances based on historical data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) for the years 1981 to 2013. The dramatic improvements in energy efficiency that have taken place over the last three decades translate into significant energy cost savings for American households.
For example, the average refrigerator manufactured in 1981 consumed 1,278 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year and those manufactured in 2013 consumed only 444 kWh of energy per year – a decrease in energy consumption of 65.3%! Similarly, the average annual energy consumption for clothes washers has declined by 74.2% since 1981, for dishwashers by 52.3%, for freezers by 23.1%, and for room air conditioners by 30.1%.
The efficiency of appliances can also be measured by their “energy factors,” which are standard industry and government metrics that measure an appliance’s overall energy efficiency. In 1981, the energy factor (EF) of a typical home refrigerator was 5.59, and by 2012 the EF increased more than three-fold to 17.25, for a 217.5% improvement in energy efficiency over the last 33 years (see chart above). The other four home appliances tracked by the AHAM also had significant improvements in energy efficiency since 1981 based on the increases in their EF ratings. Compared to 1981, the energy efficiency of the average room air-conditioner has increased by 46.4%, today’s freezers are 63% more efficient, and modern washing machines and dishwashers are more than twice as energy-efficient (see chart above). As one example of how technology has improved the energy efficiency of home appliances, today’s dishwashers consume less than half the energy of a 1981 model because of advances in soil sensors that minimize water usage, and the increased use of stainless interiors that accelerate drying time.
If the energy efficiency of the average dishwasher more than doubled since 1981, what has happened to its price, measured in “time-cost” — the number of hours a typical American would have to work at the average hourly wage to earn enough pre-tax income to purchase a standard model? The time-cost of a modern dishwasher today is remarkably only one-third the time-cost 30 years ago, as the comparison and analysis below will show.
In 1981, the 24-inch built-in dishwasher pictured above from a 1981 Wards Christmas catalog sold for $359.88. The average hourly wage then was $7.42, meaning that it would have taken 48.5 hours of work at the average hourly wage for a typical American to earn enough income 34 years ago to purchase the Wards dishwasher above.
The new Sears Kenmore 24-inch built-in dishwasher pictured above is currently listed on the Sears website at a price of $349.99. At the current average hourly wage of $20.74, the typical American today would only have to work slightly less than 17 hours to earn enough pre-tax income to buy today’s energy-efficient dishwasher, which is 65% lower than the 48.5 hour time-cost for the 1981 model. Here’s another way to compare the difference in time-cost: a typical American in 1981 would have had to work more than a week — six 8-hour days — to earn enough income to buy the Wards dishwasher displayed above, whereas an American today would only have to work for slightly less than two days to earn the income required to buy a modern Sears Kenmore dishwasher.
Bottom Line: Today’s modern household appliances are not only cheaper than ever before, they are the most energy-efficient appliances in history, resulting in additional savings for consumers through lower operating costs. The average dishwasher today is not only more than twice as energy-efficient as a comparable 1981 model, but the time cost of a 1981 dishwasher (48.5 hours) was about three times more expensive than today’s model (17 hours), measured in hours worked at the average hourly wage. Put those two factors together, and the average American’s dishwasher today is about six times superior to the dishwashers of the early 1980s.
Stated differently, if the time-cost of dishwashers hadn’t fallen by 65% since 1981, and if dishwashers hadn’t improved in energy efficiency by a factor of more than two times, Americans today would be paying about $1,000 for a basic dishwasher (48.5 hours of work at $20.74 per hour) instead of only $350, and it would take more than twice as much energy to operate. Likewise, we would expect comparable large decreases in the time-cost of the other four appliances, along with significant reductions in their operating costs due to the dramatic increases in energy efficiency since the early 1980s.
Put it all together and American consumers have never been better off when it comes to the standard home appliances that we all own and take for granted. Modern home appliances are cheaper, better, and more energy-efficient than ever before. Today’s affordable and energy-efficient household appliances are part of the ongoing, but under-appreciated “miracle of manufacturing.” Thanks to advances in technology and worker productivity, American consumers get cheaper and better manufactured goods (appliances, cars, clothing, food, and household furnishings) year after year, which translates into a higher standard of living for all Americans, especially for lower and middle-income households. If we wanted to identify a “golden era” of prosperity for middle-class America based on the affordability of owning and operating common household appliances, today’s consumers are many times better off than the consumers of any past decade, including the 1950s that Paul Krugman and others wax so nostalgic about. The “good old days” for most American consumers are happening right now.
View related content: Carpe Diem
2014 was an amazing year for America’s booming oil and gas industry, and these are my top 10 energy charts of the year that help tell the remarkable story of the Great American Energy Boom.
1. US Natural Gas and Crude Oil Production. Thanks to America’s shale revolution made possible by revolutionary “Made in the USA” drilling technologies, America’s combined oil and natural gas output is on track (based on data through September) to reach a new all-time record high in 2014 of 47.81 quadrillion BTUs. Oil and gas production in 2013 at 44.38 quadrillion BTUs was just short of the previous record high of 44.84 quadrillion BTUs set back in 1972. Last year’s estimated increase of 3.42 quadrillion BTUs will be the largest annual increase in history for America’s combined output of crude oil and natural gas, and will push production in 2014 up to nearly 48 quadrillion BTUs – the highest level in US history.
2. US Energy Self-Sufficiency. America’s shale oil and gas revolution has completely transformed the energy landscape and brought us from an era of energy scarcity into a new era of energy abundance. As one example of America’s new status as a world energy superpower, the country now produces domestically so much oil and natural gas that the US was more energy self-sufficient in 2014 than in more than a quarter century. Through September of last year, America produced 87% of all energy consumed, the highest level since 1986, and up from less than 70% energy self-sufficient in 2005.
3. US Monthly Crude Oil Production. America’s crude oil production topped 9 million barrels per day (bpd) in October for the first time since March 1986, and then rose even further during the rest of the year to end the year at 9.125 million bpd in December. As recently as 2008, daily production of US crude oil was only 5 million barrels, so the rise to more than 9 million bpd by the end of last year is a remarkable energy success story and a “reminder of the deep pools of ingenuity, risk taking, and entrepreneurship that remain in the country,” according to Gregory Zuckerman (author of “The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters”).
4. Annual Change in US Oil Production. Another energy milestone was set in 2014 as the increase in US crude oil production of 1.2 million barrels per day last year (from an average of 7.45 million bpd in 2013 to 8.66 million bpd in 2014) was the largest annual increase in crude oil output in US history. The 1.2 million bpd increase was a direct result of the efforts of America’s “petropreneurs” to finally, after spending countless years of research and millions of dollars of investment capital, successfully “crack the shale code” that allowed them to access the country’s vast oceans of shale oil that then finally created a game-changing shale revolution.
5. ‘Saudi America’ vs. Saudi Arabia. America’s emergence as a world energy superpower in recent years is further illustrated by the fact that the US has led the world in total petroleum production (crude oil and other petroleum products like natural gas plant liquids, lease condensate, and refined petroleum products) every month for the last several years, and has out-produced Saudi Arabia for total petroleum products in every month since November 2012. In September of last year (most recent month available) ‘Saudi America’ out-produced Saudi Arabia by 2.7 million barrels per day, the largest production gap in favor of the US since at least 1994. Before the shale revolution, Saudi Arabia routinely out-produced the US for total petroleum products by several million barrels per day in the period between 2002 and 2008, see chart above.
6. America’s Net Oil Imports. Thanks to the game-changing shale oil revolution, America’s reliance on foreign sources of petroleum (like Saudi Arabia) fell to only 27% of the total products supplied last year (through November). The rapid decline from 60.5% in 2005 to only 27% in less than a decade represents America’s lowest level of net petroleum imports since 1971, and completely reverses the three-decade increase in net imports that brought America’s dependence on foreign petroleum from 24.3% in 1971 to above 60% in 2005.
7. Close to the Cheapest Gas in History. Thanks to a drop in gas prices of $1.52 per gallon since last April ($3.70 to $2.18 today), along with increasing fuel economy and higher wages, the “time cost” of gas is close to the lowest in history. The chart above shows the number of minutes the average American would have to spend working at the average hourly wage to earn the amount of income required to buy enough gas to drive 100 miles in a car getting the average fuel economy in each year back to 1975. Today, it would take 25 minutes of work at the average hourly wage of about $20.82 to buy enough gas at $2.18 per gallon to drive 100 miles in a car with the current average fuel economy of 25.1 miles per gallon. That’s about half of the 51.6 minutes of work required in 2008 to buy gas for 100 miles, and just slightly higher than the all-time low of 24.3 minutes in 1998. If gas falls to $2.10 per gallon this year, Americans will have the cheapest gas in US history based on the number of work minutes at the average wage to drive 100 miles.
8. Texas Crude Oil Output. At the epi-center of America’s shale oil revolution is the state of Texas, which produced more than 37% of America’s crude oil in October (most recent month available), up from less than 20% in 2009 and establishing a new record high for the Lone Star State’s share of US oil output. From an output level of just over 1 million bpd between 2002 and 2010, Texas’s crude oil production has roughly tripled to more than 3 million bpd in every month between April and October of 2014. As a separate country, Texas is now producing so much oil that it would have been the world’s 7th largest oil-producing nation in September (most recent month for international oil production data).
9. America’s Three Elite Oil Fields. Amazingly, about half of America’s daily 9 million barrels in crude oil output is coming from the country’s three, super-giant elite oil fields: the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota, the Permian Basin in West Texas, and the Eagle Ford Formation in South Texas. Daily production in each of those three US oil fields is more than a million barrels (and has been for a year or more in each case), placing them in an elite group of only ten oil fields worldwide that have ever produced a million bpd of crude oil at peak production. Together, those three elite US oil fields produced 4.7 million bpd in December according to EIA estimates, which would represent slightly more than half of the total of 9.125 million bpd produced nationally last month. It should also be noted that neither the Eagle Ford nor Bakken oil fields were producing oil in significant amounts until the shale revolution started in around 2008; and since then oil production has increased more than 1 million bpd in the Bakken since 2009 and by more than 1 million bpd in the Eagle Ford since just mid-2012.
10. Texas Oil = Texas Jobs = US Jobs. Along with the surging gusher of shale oil and gas being pumped every day in Texas has come a gusher of new jobs in the Lone Star State. While the state has other sectors that are booming thanks to one of the most business-friendly climates in the country, the oil and gas sector in Texas has certainly helped deliver a powerful, energy-based stimulus to the state’s economy and labor market. In fact, job creation in the state of Texas has been so strong in recent years that the state has actually been single-handedly responsible for all of the net US job creation since December 2007, as the chart above shows. Without Texas, the other 49 states and the District of Columbia were still at a net job deficit of almost 400,000 in November last year compared to the start of the Great Recession, while employment in Texas has increased by more than 1.4 million jobs over that period. So when we hear about a recovery in the US labor market, a declining jobless rate and gradually improving US economy, we can thank the booming energy sector in Texas for its significant contribution to the country’s improving job market and economy. Without the energy-driven economic stimulus from the fracking revolution, and without the gusher of jobs in the state of Texas, there’s no question that the Great Recession would have been much worse and lasted much longer, and the jobs picture and overall economy today would be much bleaker.
Bottom Line: 2014 was an amazing year for the US energy industry, and the ten charts above help to tell one of the most remarkable economic success stories in US history. It’s a story of America emerging last year as a world energy superpower, and a story of going from generations of energy scarcity to a new and exciting era of energy abundance in 2014, with lower energy costs for American consumers and businesses, greater energy self-sufficiency and a reduced dependence on petroleum products from unfriendly parts of the world, and an energy-driven economic stimulus that has delivered jobs, higher incomes and greater prosperity for America. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the Great American Energy Boom provides the best reason to be optimistic about the US economy and America’s economic future.
Acceptance rates at US medical schools in 2014 reveal ongoing discrimination against Asian-Americans and whites
View related content: Carpe Diem
The table above (click to enlarge) of US medical school acceptance rates is a revised and updated version of one I’ve posted several times before, here’s a link to the most recent CD post on this topic from July 2014. The series of posts on medical school acceptance rates by race/ethnic groups for various MCAT scores and GPAs has generated a lot of interest and comments in the past, so I’m posting on the topic again with new data for the 2014-2015 academic year that just recently became available from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Specifically, the table above displays: a) acceptance rates to US medical schools for Asians, whites, Hispanics and blacks with various combinations of MCAT scores and GPAs for the academic years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 (aggregated for the two years), and b) average MCAT scores and average GPAs by race/ethnic group for matriculants to US medical schools in the fall of 2014.
For 2014, the average GPA of all students applying to medical schools was 3.55 and the average MCAT score was 28.6 (see AAMC data, Table 19). The highlighted dark blue column in the middle of the table above displays the acceptance rates to US medical schools for applicants from four racial/ethnic groups for applicants with: a) GPAs that fall in the 3.40 to 3.59 range that includes the average GPA of 3.55 and b) MCAT scores in the range between 27 to 29 that includes the average score of 28.6. Acceptance rates for students with slightly higher and slightly lower than average GPAs and test scores are displayed in the other columns. In other words, the table above displays acceptance rates by race/ethnicity for students applying to US medical schools with average academic credentials, and just slightly above and slightly below average academic credentials.
Here are some observations based on the new AAMC data:
- For those applicants to US medical schools last year with average GPAs (3.40 to 3.59) and average MCAT scores (27 to 29), black applicants were 4 times more likely to be admitted to medical school than Asians in that applicant pool (81.0% vs. 20.4%), and 2.7 times more likely than white applicants (81.1% vs. 30.6%). Likewise, Hispanic applicants to medical school with average GPAs and MCAT scores were twice as likely as whites in that applicant pool to be admitted to medical school (61.7% vs. 30.6%), and three times more likely than Asians (61.7% vs. 20.4%). Overall, black (81%) and Hispanic (64.1%) applicants with average GPAs and average MCAT scores were accepted to US medical schools in 2014 at rates (81.1% and 64.1% respectively) much higher than the 32.3% average acceptance rate for all students in that applicant pool.
- For students applying to medical school with slightly below average GPAs of 3.20 to 3.39 and slightly below average MCAT scores of 24 to 26 (first data column in the table, shaded light blue), black applicants were 9 times more likely to be admitted to medical school than Asians (58.7% vs. 6.5%), and 7.2 times more likely than whites (58.7% vs. 8.2%). Compared to the average acceptance rate of 18.1% for all applicants with that combination of GPA and MCAT score, black and Hispanic applicants were much more likely to be accepted at rates of 58.7% and 30.9%, and white and Asian applicants were much less likely to be accepted to US medical schools at rates of only 8.2% and 6.5%.
- We find the same pattern of acceptance rates by ethnic/racial groups for applicants with slightly above average academic credentials. For example, for applicants with MCAT scores of 30 to 32 (slightly above average) and GPAs between 3.40 to 3.59 (average) in the eighth data column (shaded light blue), the acceptance rates for blacks (88.4%) and Hispanics (78.8%) were much higher than the acceptance rate for whites (48.9%) and Asians (41.3%) with those same academic credentials.
- For all matriculants to US medical schools in the fall of 2014, the average MCAT score for Asians (32.8) and whites (31.7) were above the average MCAT score of 31.4 for all matriculants, while the average MCAT score for Hispanics (28.1) and blacks (27.3) had average MCAT scores below the overall average (see second to last column in table). Likewise, the average GPAs for Asian (3.73) and white (3.72) matriculants were above the overall 3.69 GPA average, while the average GPAs for Hispanic (3.57) and black (3.46) matriculants were below the overall average (see last column in table).
Bottom Line: Like in my previous posts on this topic, I’m concluding again that 2014-2015 medical school acceptance rates suggest that medical schools must have “affirmative discrimination” and “racial profiling” admission policies that favor black and Hispanic applicants over equally qualified Asian and white students. Even if factors other than GPA and MCAT scores (which are probably the two most important ones) are considered for admission to medical school, wouldn’t it still be very hard to conclude that admissions policies to medical schools are completely “race-neutral” and completely free of any “racial profiling” practices that favor blacks and Hispanics over Asians and whites?
Here’s why the issue is important: In some states like California, Washington, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and Michigan, racial preferences in college admissions to public universities are currently prohibited by state law. For example, Proposal 2 in Michigan, which was passed into Michigan Constitutional law by a 58% margin of voters in 2006, states:
The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
The AAMC doesn’t provide acceptance data by individual medical school, so we can’t conclude that any of the four medical schools at public universities in Michigan (University of Michigan, Michigan State, Wayne State and Oakland University) are practicing illegal “affirmative discrimination” or “racial profiling” in admissions, but it’s clear that Michigan state law, and the laws in several other states, expressly prohibit that practice. Based on national data, is there any conclusion other than the obvious one – that US medical schools are granting special preferences for admissions on the basis of race for certain preferred minority groups (blacks and Hispanics) over other non-preferred minority groups (Asians) and whites? When a black applicant with average academic credentials is four times more likely to be admitted to a US medical school than an equally qualified Asian applicant, what other conclusion is there?
Q: When/why/how did it become so acceptable to blatantly, legally (in most cases) and routinely discriminate against academically qualified Asian-Americans and whites for admission to selective colleges and medical schools by blatantly and routinely discriminating in favor of less academically qualified blacks and Hispanics? Will there ever come a time when it becomes illegal to engage in such blatant racial/ethnic discrimination, and base admission to selective colleges and medical schools on a color-blind, race-neutral policy?
View related content: Carpe Diem
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released new state crude oil production data yesterday for the month of October, and one of the highlights of that monthly report is that oil output in America’s No. 1 oil-producing state – Texas – continues its phenomenal, jaw-dropping rise. Here are some details of oil output in “Saudi Texas” for the month of October and the economic impact that production is having on the state’s economy:
- For the seventh straight month starting in April, oil drillers in Texas pumped out more than 3 million barrels of crude oil every day (bpd) during the month of October. The 3.36 million bpd in October was the highest daily oil output in the Lone Star State in any month since at least January 1981, when the EIA started reporting each state’s monthly oil production (see top chart above). Texas reached the two million barrel per day oil production milestone in August 2012, and has since added more than a million more barrels of daily oil production in less than two years to reach the three million barrel milestone in May of this year. Compared to oil production a year ago, Texas posted a 26% increase in October, and the year-over-year production increase of 695,000 barrels per day from October of last year is the largest annual output gain in state history.
- Remarkably, oil production in the Lone Star State has more than doubled in the last three years, from 1.59 million bpd in October 2011 to 3.36 million bpd in October of this year (see chart above), and that production surge has to be one of the most significant increases in oil output ever recorded in the US over such a short period of time. A 1.77 million bpd increase in oil output in only 36 months in one US state is remarkable, and would have never been possible without the revolutionary drilling techniques that just recently started accessing vast oceans of shale oil in the Texas oil fields of Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin. As I have reported before on CD, the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin oil fields in Texas are now each producing crude oil at a rate of more than 1 million bpd, joining an elite international group of only ten super-giant oil fields in the world that have ever surpassed the one million barrel per day production milestone at their peak level of output.
- The exponential increase in Texas oil output over roughly the last three years has completely reversed the previous, gradual 28-year decline in the state’s conventional oil production that took place from 1981 to 2009 (see arrows in top chart) – thanks almost exclusively to the dramatic increases in the state’s output of newly accessible, unconventional shale oil.
- As recently as mid-2009, Texas was producing less than 20% of America’s domestic crude oil. The recent gusher of unconventional oil being produced in the Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin oil fields of Texas, thanks to breakthrough drilling and extraction technologies, has recently pushed the Lone Star State’s share of domestic crude oil all the way up to more than 36% of America’s crude output for the last six months, and more than 37% in October – setting a new state record.
- Oil output has increased so significantly in Texas in recent years that if the state were considered as a separate oil-producing country, Texas would have been the 6th largest oil-producing nation in the world for crude oil output in August (based on international oil production data here) at 3.24 million bpd – just behind No. 5 Canada’s production of 3.4 million bpd. In previous months, Texas ranked as the world’s No. 7 oil producer, and just moved up one place in the rankings in August, when it surpassed Iran’s crude oil production for the first time ever.
- The dramatic increase in Texas’s oil and gas production is bringing jobs and economic prosperity to the state. For example, over the last 12 months through October, payroll employment in the state of Texas increased by 441,200 jobs – the largest 12-month job gain in state history – and that represented a 3.90% annual payroll increase, almost double the 1.99% increase in total US payrolls over that period. With only 8.4% of the US population, Texas created 16.1% of the new US payroll jobs over the last 12 months through November. Every business day over the last year, almost 1,700 new jobs were created in the Lone Star State, and many of those jobs were directly or indirectly related to the state’s booming energy sector, which experienced a 7.8% increase in payrolls for oil and gas extraction jobs (8,200 new jobs) over the most recent 12-month period through September. Oil and gas companies in Texas hired nearly 32 new employees every business day over the last year just for extraction activities, or almost 4 new hires every hour!
- Job creation in the state of Texas has been so strong in recent years that the state has actually been single-handedly responsible for all of the net US job creation since December 2007, as the bottom chart above shows. Without Texas, the other 49 states and the District of Columbia are still at a net job deficit of almost 400,000 compared to December 2007, while employment in Texas has increased by more than 1.4 million jobs over that period. So when we hear about a recovery in the US labor market and a declining jobless rate, we can thank the state of Texas for its significant contribution to the country’s improving job market.
MP: The significant increase in Texas’s oil production over the last several years is nothing short of phenomenal, and is a direct result of America’s “petropreneurs” who developed game-changing drilling technologies that have now revolutionized the nation’s production of shale oil. Thanks to those revolutionary technologies, Texas is now home to two of only ten super-giant oil fields in the world to ever produce more than 1 million barrels of oil per day – the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin.
For oil output in Texas to increase from 2 million to more than 3 million bpd in less than two years, and increase so dramatically that the state now produces more than 37% of US oil, is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable energy success stories in US history. At the current pace of annual increases of more than 20%, daily Texas oil production is on track to surpass the 4 million barrel milestone by August of next year. With those projected increases in Texas oil output, the state could soon surpass Iran and even Canada to move up in the international oil production rankings to become the world’s No. 5 oil producer in 2015.
And the shale boom in Texas has contributed to a gusher of more than 1.4 million new jobs since the start of the Great Recession, while the rest of the US is still struggling to recover all of the non-Texas jobs lost since December 2007. Simply put, “Saudi Texas” continues to be the shining star of The Great American Shale Boom, and the American state at the forefront of the US economic recovery.
View related content: Carpe Diem
From the Political Calculations blog:
What was the most significant story in mathematics in 2014? We thought we’d take on answering that question in our final post of the year. What we specifically set out to identify is the biggest story of 2014 where the application of math either was or became the story.
Would it be one of PhysOrg’s top-ranked mathematics news stories for 2014? Stories that included a novel ranking method for measuring the influence of academic papers or the resolution of a three decade-old controversy on how to determine the location of atomic and molecular resonances? Or perhaps even the reported proof of the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture, which has the potential to be applied to applications covering the gamut from number theory to quantum physics?
Actually, no, because all these things represent pretty esoteric applications of maths that would seem to have limited application to date.
So we dug deeper, seeking out stories where applied maths were making an impact in the real world.
And what was their final decision? Here it is:
The rise and fall of the distractingly false claim that “one in five women is sexually assaulted in college” is the biggest math story of the year.
Find out more here about the “Biggest Math Story of 2014,” a story of statistical fraud that reaches all the way into the Oval Office, and one that was reported on this blog numerous times this year.