Friday, June 24, 2011

Calculating the value of good weather

We moved to Hawaii for the sunshine and the moderate, year-round, tropical weather. Though most things in Hawaii are more expensive than on the mainland, we find the exceptional weather is saving us money in some unusual ways. Here is our list of how Hawaii's great weather is saving us money:
  • Reduced health care costs: The abundance of Vitamin D and the swimming and walking we do every day, year-round has improved our health. Waking up to warm weather every day means we have less aches and pains and getting colds and flu’s is rare for us now. We are already saving on the cost of doctor visits, prescriptions, and medical tests, but as our health improves our savings could be even more substantial if it means we avoid heart disease, cancer, diabetes or any of the other chronic diseases of our time.
  • No need for vacations: My SAD (seasonal adjustment disorder)  has disappeared and I no longer need a mid-winter Hawaii vacation to fend off an attack. We have not gone on a vacation in four years now because every day in Hawaii is like a vacation and we have no desire to leave the islands.
  • Reduced cost for fresh foods: The vegetables and fruits we like to eat are grown locally and are fresher and cost less than what we use to get on the mainland. The weather allows these foods to grow year-round and are available at farmer’s markets and in local stores. Our local grass feed beef and local caught fish are also less expensive because of low transportation costs.
  • Reduced medication costs: There is no ragweed season in Hawaii which saves me months of misery in the Autumn, Kleenex, and the expense of allergy medicine. We are also avoiding the cost of living with air conditioning during the allergy season and running a pollen-removing air filter for two months of the year.
  • Reduced heating and cooling: The weather is so moderate we rarely use air conditioning and heating is never needed. So, we are saving money on heating and cooling. The cost of electricity is extremely high in Hawaii so these saving are offset some, but as we invest in more efficient appliances and lighting our electric expense has continued to drop.
  • Reduced clothing costs: We do not have to shovel snow in Hawaii or wear coats, long johns or special clothes for each season. In Hawaii’s weather we do not wear shoes as often and since we live in T-shirts and shorts, our clothes do not wear out as fast. We do replace our bathing suits often because we wear them every day but the cost is minimal compared to cost of keeping a corporate wardrobe up-to-date.
So here is our calculation of our yearly monetary cost benefits of good weather :

Health care savings     $5,000
Yearly vacations         $10,000
Food savings               $6,000
No allergies                   $500
AC &Heating               $3,000
Clothes and shoes      $1,000
Total savings              $25,500

When we add up our cost savings from good weather, we are confronted with how big the non-financial benefits are. What is the worth of having food that makes us feel good available all year long? How can we put a price on feeling better, having an active lifestyle, and waking up feeling really great every day?


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