To what degree has the existence of the Internet reduced gas usage on errands?
Interesting question. Pending actual answers, let me offer anecdotal data.
My office is 110 miles from my house. When I go to the office I burn between 4.5 and 5 gallons on the round-trip. I telecommute three days a week, so the Internet saves me approximately 60 gallons of fuel per month. With parking, and my tendency to buy lunch when I’m at the office, each telecommuting day saves me about $150/month.
Good, but I was thinking about shopping, going to the library for information, etc.
Not specifically telecommuting, although it certainly is relevant.
You’d have to do a regression analysis to try to separate out the effects of computer-driven use from the other known factors, like the price of gas and the effects of the Recession. And you’d have to distinguish between the times that a computer saved gas, like internet shopping, and caused the use of gas, like discovering new restaurants or shops. And even internet shopping has increased the use of gas for delivery trucks by a sizable amount.
I’d bet 100 bucks that it couldn’t be done and 1000 bucks that I wouldn’t believe the study if I found one.
Because of the internet I no longer go to the mall. So I figure I save about $5 a month.