On March 18, AAA reported that the national gas price jumped seven cents on the week. Then, just one week later, they reported that it jumped again by eight cents on the week. So, why are we seeing a steady increase in gas prices? Keep reading to find out why.
Why Gas Prices are Rising
There are a number of reasons why gas prices are rising. One explanation is the change in seasons. According to AAA, spring (and summer too) brings higher gasoline demand. That’s because more travelers are hitting the road at these times of the year–whether it’s going on vacation or just taking a road trip. “With the summer driving season on its way, American motorists should expect gasoline prices to continue rising this spring as gasoline stocks tighten and demand increases,” AAA said in an article on its website.
Another reason is the cost of crude oil. When the price of the crude oil rises or falls, prices at gas stations follow suit. Why the cost of crude oil fluctuates depends on a number of things, including international trade agreements, supply and demand, pricing and output decisions made by major oil refineries, etc.
A third reason is that refineries temporarily shut down for maintenance from late February through the weeks leading up to April. “Late March through mid-April is the period of time each year when most refiners are required by the EPA to make the changeover from producing ‘winter blends’ of gasolines to the far more numerous ‘summer blends’,” Forbes wrote in an article on its website. And, “with a higher percentage of refineries than usual shut-in, gasoline transportation costs typically rise and are passed onto consumers.”
Another factor affecting gas prices are the happenings going on in the countries we import from. For example, Forbes points out that the deteriorating situation in Venezuela has a possible impact on U.S. gas prices. “Venezuela has been a fairly significant exporter to the U.S. but its volumes have steadily fallen in recent years as its economy has collapsed. U.S. refiners will have to find another source of crude to replace the lost Venezuelan volumes, and to the extent they must pay higher prices to obtain that feedstock, the higher costs will be passed through to the consumer,” Forbes said in an article published on its website.
Where to Find the Lowest Gas Prices
Have you ever noticed that some gas stations consistently offer lower-priced gas than others? One reason is because of the location of the gas station. Those that are right off the highway usually charge more for gasoline. With that said, do yourself a favor and shop around for the best prices. But, instead of searching for those prices by driving around (you’ll burn up gas that way), use a free app like AAA Mobile, GasBuddy or Gas Guru to find the station(s) with the lowest prices. NOTE: Gas stations operated by or affiliated with retailers like Walmart and Costco regularly offer cheaper gas prices to encourage people to shop at their stores.
FYI, as of February 2019, these were the states with the lowest gas prices per gallon:
-South Carolina ($2.15)
If you notice, many of these states are near the oil refineries on the Gulf Coast.
How You Can Save Money at the Pump
In addition to shopping around for the best prices, there are a number of other things you can do to beat high prices at the gas pump, including:
–Choosing the right credit card. Did you know that some credit cards offer cash back rewards on everyday purchases like food and gasoline? Yep, it’s true. Did you also know that credit cards affiliated with gas stations offer discounts? For example, ExxonMobil customers can save $.12 per gallon (limited time offer) when opening a new credit card. Even some supermarket chains offer their customers fuel rewards. For example, Stop and Shop Supermarket Company, a chain of supermarkets located in the northeastern United States, and Giant Food Stores, a supermarket chain operating in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., both have rewards programs that give shoppers points with every qualifying purchase they make. These points can be used to save on gas at participating Shell stations, or you can redeem your savings at Stop and Shop or Giant Food.
–Taking car of your vehicle. Maintaining your vehicle doesn’t just keep it running in tip-top shape, it also maximizes your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. According to GOBankingRates, “the U.S. Department of Energy found that a poorly tuned engine consumes more fuel.” So, take a tip from the experts and get a tuneup regularly. You’ll also want to check your tires frequently, too. That’s because underinflated tires cause your vehicle to burn more gas. Oh, and make sure you’re using the right motor oil, too. Using the wrong kind can cause your engine to work harder, thereby burning more gas.
–Practicing good driving habits. Driving faster will get you where you’re headed much quicker, but it’ll burn more fuel too. According to GOBankingRates, Consumer Reports says that the slower you drive the better your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. For example, you reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by 5 to 7 mpg when you increase your speed to 75 mph. Also, you’ll want to avoid unnecessary braking as well. This can also drain your vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency. Those who avoid unnecessary braking can avoid reducing their vehicle’s gas mileage by up to 40 percent!
–Buying gas at the right time. It’s best to purchase gas early in the morning or late in the day, particularly during the warmer months. That’s because gas is cooler at these times, and therefore, more dense. As the temperature rises, gas becomes less dense, so you get less of it when you pump it during the middle of a hot summer day. It’s also wise to purchase gas early in the week, when prices are much lower. Gas prices tend to rise between Wednesday and Saturday.
–Planning ahead. Choosing the best route, i.e. the route with the fewest stops (stop signs, traffic lights, etc.), can help you save on gas. Keep in mind that the best route isn’t always the shortest route. That’s because the shortest route isn’t always the most fuel-efficient way to travel.
–Turning it off. That goes for both your engine and your AC. Whether you’re waiting in a traffic jam or waiting outside in the car for your spouse or kids to finish getting ready, turn off your engine. “Idling is a major waste of gasoline, and contributes massive amounts of pollutants to the atmosphere,” MoneyCrashers.com said on its website. And, running the air conditioner also wastes gas. We know there are times when you need it, but to keep it turned off as much as possible, park your car in the shade and roll down the windows to let air circulate through the vehicle.
For more practical advice, check out the ten things you shouldn’t do while pumping gas. Thanks for reading!