Why do gas prices increase, and what can we do about it?
According to MEMA, Americans drive about 3 trillion miles a year – that’s about 820 trips from the sun to Pluto and back. As a society, we consume 178 million gallons of gasoline per day (doe.gov). And just when we get some time off to do some things, the price at the pump goes up. Why? The short answer is, supply and demand. Typically, demand spikes around this time, as we go on vacation and have long holiday weekends. When demand goes up, so do prices. Add to the price increase more expensive summer-grade fuels, and the prices climb higher yet. In the spring, oil refineries perform maintenance, which lowers production, making the supply smaller. People want more gas right when there is less of it, and it is more expensive to produce. Taxes in different states, where the station is located in relation to a refinery, and local competition can all impact the bottom line.
So that’s the why. What can we do to keep our budget in check when gas prices rise?
- Check your car’s air filter – almost 1 in 4 cars could use a new one, and increase fuel economy by up to 10%.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Add another 2.8%.
- Slow down! (I’m sure this works but I have a hard time doing it, especially in my convertible in the summer…) You can save a few dimes per gallon for every 5mph in speed reduction.
- Keep the junk out of your trunk – heavier vehicles consume more gas.
- Get your exercise as well as be more environmentally friendly and bike or walk when appropriate.
- Take advantage of free shipping instead of driving to the store. Great sites like safetygirl.com offer free shipping when you purchase $50 or more.