The average cost for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. during the July 4 holiday week will be $2.86, according to AAA. That’s the highest it’s been in four years during the Independence Day holiday, which will mean more pain at the pump for roughly 40 million Americans traveling this week.
“The national gas price average has held fairly steady for the past 10 days, suggesting that U.S. demand is keeping pace with supply and stabilizing summer gas prices,” Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokeswoman, said in a statement. “However, elevated crude oil prices and other geopolitical concerns could tilt gas prices more expensive in the early fall despite an expected increase in global crude production from OPEC and its partners.”
That may be cold comfort for summer travel, but it’s better than it has been in the last few years.
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Gas was more than $4 per gallon in 2008, but fell as far as $2.22 per gallon last year, the lowest in a decade. Gas prices, on average, are lowest in the Southern U.S., as low as $2.26, according to GasBuddy.com. The most expensive gallon of gas, on average, is found on the islands in Alaska, which costs nearly $4 per gallon.
Drivers looking to save at the pump can find respite from climbing gas prices in dozens of ways. Here are a few tips for saving more at the pump:
1. Drive slower and smoother on the highway
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most new cars hit an efficiency “sweet spot” between 35 and 60 mph, lower than the posted limits in many states. The DOE estimates that for 5 mph faster than 60, drivers pay 24 cents more per gallon of gas every hour. That may add up to the cost of a sandwich over the course of a long road trip, but the DOE estimates that drivers will waste more gas with rapid acceleration and deceleration. In short, easy on the right foot.
2. Don’t use premium unless you need it
Putting premium unleaded in a car that doesn’t require won’t save any money by helping the car run “cleaner.” In fact, many cars on the road are specifically tuned to run on regular or mid-grade gasoline, so spending more per gallon doesn’t net better mpg. Some cars—many that use a turbocharger—may require premium unleaded, so it’s best to follow instructions set by the manufacturer.
3. Buy a more fuel-efficient car
Newer cars are more efficient now than they ever have been. Trading in an older car for a newer, fuel-efficient hybrid or plug-in hybrid can save hundreds—or thousands—of dollars over the average life of a car. If you’ve been waiting for gas prices to rise and new car prices to fall, now might be the right time to shop around.
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4. Shop smarter
Gas and navigation apps such as GasBuddy, Gas Guru, Waze and others can show local prices that are frequently updated. Instead of driving around to save a few cents on a gallon, shop the apps and head directly there.
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5. Drive smarter
Many new cars are equipped with a stop-start system that can cut the engine at stoplights to save gas, but many more cars spend too much time idling in parking lots or at home. Cut idle time to save gas and money. Additionally, check tires for correct pressures prior to starting off; a properly inflated tire can efficiently travel farther due to less rolling resistance with the road.