As a Gallon of Gas Breaks $3, Try These Tips for Saving

Man wearing surgical gloves and mask refueling car at gas station.

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The average price for a gallon of regular gas in the U.S. just broke through $3 for the first time in more than six years and likely will climb further, but AAA says there are ways for drivers to keep the higher cost of fuel from breaking the bank.

To hold down your gasoline costs, the not-for-profit member association recommends these tactics:

  • Combine trips to get errands done, minimizing the number of trips taken.
  • Avoid driving during high traffic times, if possible.
  • For those owning multiple vehicles, use the most fuel-efficient one for each journey.
  • Because it takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier vehicle, lighten up the vehicle’s load by removing unnecessary, bulky items.
  • Minimize use of the car’s air conditioning to achieve better fuel economy. Parking in shade or using a windshield sunscreen can help keep the car cooler and reduce the need for air conditioning.

Gas prices have jumped eight cents over the past seven days as a result of higher demand and the cyberattack-caused shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which carries 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast. October 2014 was the last time a gallon of gas cost $3, and AAA expects even higher prices in coming weeks.  

In the next week alone, AAA said the pipeline woes could add another two cents to the national average, with some states seeing an even larger increase because of additional transportation and delivery costs by trucks and tankers during the pipeline closure.

“Part of what will determine how high prices will go is how high oil prices will be and the pipeline,” said Devin Gladden, a AAA spokesperson. (Over the last decade, crude oil prices have typically determined at least half the cost of a gallon of gas.) “If the pipeline is down longer than this week, it could impact gas prices in other regions. Plus there’s higher demand with Memorial Day coming up. It’s a perfect storm for higher prices.” 

Memorial Day weekend—from May 27 to May 31 this year—traditionally signifies the start of summer and, after a year of the pandemic and with vaccinations allowing economies to reopen, more people are expected to vacation this holiday weekend. AAA forecasts more than 37 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home, up 60% from last year when only 23 million traveled, which was the lowest figure since AAA began gathering such records in 2000.

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