By Madeline Klein on May 6, 2022 in Life Hacks
Since gas prices are at an all-time high, we understand trying to save a few bucks at the pump. We’ll cover why gas prices change and how to save money when they reach peak prices, or when you’re traveling frequently.
Why is the price of gas always changing?
It seems as though gas prices are always changing. Sometimes these price changes work in our favor, sometimes not so much. So, what determines the changing gas prices? According to The Balance, “Oil costs account for 43% of the price of regular gasoline. The remaining 57% comes from distribution and marketing, refining, and taxes.”
However, a lot of it comes down to economics—simple supply and demand. The Energy Information Association explains this for us in a couple of key points.
- As demand goes up, prices increase.
- Supply can change rapidly and sporadically. Suppliers like gas pipelines have problems sometimes that can affect the amount of gas we receive (Also, global crises can play into supply. For example, the Russia/Ukraine crisis in 2022).
- Prices usually see increases in spring and summer, when demand goes up. More road trips = higher demand.
- Prices usually drop in the winter months, when demand goes down and supply increases. Pro Tip: Plan your next road trip for the winter to cut some costs.
There are countless other factors that play into gas prices: how many new cars are on the road, the strength of the dollar, politics, and more.
If this is a topic you’re interested in, we encourage you to do your own research and share your findings. We’re always looking to learn more!
How can you save money on gas?
- Use Eco Mode
Let’s start by explaining what eco mode is, in case you’re unfamiliar. Cars began utilizing this handy feature in 2006, created to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. While each specific “eco mode” has a unique operating system, the main way they work is by limiting engine performance. Rumor has it (straight from the experts at CarTreatments.com) changing to eco mode could save you around 5% in fuel economy. So, while you might experience a little less oomph in your accelerations and your engine shutting off at stoplights, you’ll be saving dough at the gas pump.
Another option? Opt for a fuel-efficient car like a hybrid model for optimal fuel savings.
- Slow your roll
This one will be tricky for our speed demons out there, we see you. Lowering your speed of acceleration (which will be automatically done for you if you’re in eco mode), can help you save on gas and reduce wind resistance.
There’s a science behind this; we promise we’re not just trying to make you slow down and enjoy the scenic views. Consumer Reports said, “Reducing your speed to 65 on the highway can increase fuel economy by as much as 15 to 20 percent.” Now we’re talking significant savings!
- Make sure your tires are at the right pressure
Tires, tires, tires. Flat tires can really cut down on fuel efficiency.
Follow the tire pressure recommendations listed on the side of your car door or in the owner’s manual. If you have trouble, check out Firestone’s guide to all things tire pressure.
- Use cruise control
Cruise control is your friend. Steadily managing your speed helps conserve fuel. While this may not be as helpful on hilly or mountainous roads with constant braking and acceleration, when you’re on the open highway – utilize this gas-conserving feature.
- Avoid idling
We don’t like to idly wait in lines or wait for friends, and neither does your car. Idling your car for extended periods of time wastes fuel AND it’s not great for the environment. You know how we feel about the environment! In fact, JD Power says, “To avoid running your car for too long, you should only idle your vehicle for a few minutes at most before either moving your vehicle or turning the engine off.”
So, vow to turn your car off and roll the windows down, or warm it up for shorter periods instead of just letting it run and run and run.
- Fill your tank all the way – but not too much!
When we were younger, our parents always advised against letting the fuel tank drop below the halfway mark. This advice rings true today. However, don’t try over-filling your tank to avoid the gas station either. That means no more squeezing the gas nozzle after the automatic stop! Gas Buddy warns against the damages associated with overfilling your tank.
- Time of day matters
Did you know gas is cooler and denser earlier in the day and becomes less dense as temperatures rise? So, you’ll want to fill up your tank when the weather is cool. Warmer gas will have you paying more AND getting less – we sure do not want that.
You learn something new every day. Shoutout to inMOTION for the helpful gas tip.
- Limit travel when you can and plan your trips more effectively
Start planning your trips further in advance so you can swap driving for walking or catching the bus. If it’s not necessary for you to get out and about, stay home to minimize your travel.
Pro Tip: Save all your errands for the same day and map your route beforehand. This equals less travel time, less time out, and less gas. Win – win – win!
- Lighten your load
We’re not talking about your workload, although we’d love for you to lighten that to prevent burnout. We’re actually talking about removing any additional weight on your ride. Roof racks and cargo carriers, despite being extremely helpful for long trips, can cause more wind resistance than you’d think. When you aren’t using them, it’s best to remove them.
USPS says, “An extra 100 pounds could reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent.” So cut the extra weight and save some gas!
- Don’t skip your routine tune-ups
In the past, we’ve given you a guide to finding the auto shop of your dreams. So, don’t skip out on visiting them now. A properly tuned engine uses less gas. Stay up to date on those filter and oil changes too.
- Join a fuel rewards program
Does your gas station or grocery store offer a reward program? Programs like Hy-Vee’s Fuel Saver will reward you with points when purchasing certain grocery items that you can use toward future gas purchases.
Looking for a program near you? The Penny Hoarder lists some here!
- Use a gas app to find the best prices in your area
- Save your stations, so you can remember where to stop on those road trips.
- Find the lowest gas prices in the area.
- Plan your route to optimize fuel efficiency.
- And more!
The best way to make all this a moot point? Invest in an electric vehicle and say goodbye to filling up at the pump forever!
It’s more important than ever to optimize our fuel-efficiency and cut down on our gas usage. Not only for the money savings, but also for our environment. Let’s make a change together!