Gasoline prices are starting to climb around the nation, with the West Coast taking the brunt of the increases.
The average price for a gallon of gas nationwide, as of February 21, 2022, is $3.532 per gallon, according to AAA. Prices are as high as $4.741 a gallon in the Pacific coastal states.
Why Are Gas Prices Going Up?
So what’s up with the increase, and when will fuel prices go back down?
Money expert Clark Howard says several factors have led to an increase in gas prices in America and across the globe.
He points to the fact that, in 2020, the supply of oil was very high, and that led to a lot of exploration all over the world shutting down. "A lot of wells were taken out of production, and once that happens, it's a fight from behind," Clark says. "There was a full recovery in demand, but it takes a while to build supply."
“Then you throw on top of it the Russians and Ukraine, and that has added a significant layer of uncertainty,” he adds.
“What happens in capitalism is when there’s uncertainty, price becomes a signal … and prices tend to go up or down, and in this case with oil, it’s led to higher prices.”
When Are Fuel Prices Going Down?
Clark says relief at the pump is coming, but we need to have some perspective on the oil and gas industry. He says we’re currently in a period where gas providers are set to make big money. As the market responds, we should see a self-correction of gas prices.
“Over the second half of 2022, there’s so much money to be made right now in exploration and production, particularly production, that you’ll see this self-correct every single time that the price of a barrel of oil goes up,” Clark says. “[When] it feels like it’s never going to stop, the marketplace provides the answer.”
In the meantime, what can you do?
How To Spend Less on Gas Right Now
By doing the little things, you can save money on what you pay for fuel. Here are some tips.
1. Cut Down on Idling Your Engine
It may be normal for you to idle your engine before you start your drive. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you're wasting money.
Reducing the time you spend idling your car can cut down on your emissions as well as your fuel costs.
“Idling can use a quarter to a half-gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use, adding up to three cents of wasted fuel a minute,” the agency says.
2. Don’t Speed
Lowering your speed can translate into savings at the pump, according to the federal government's 2022 Fuel Economy Guide.
“Each 5 MPH you drive over 60 MPH can reduce your fuel economy by 7%,” the guide says.
You can look up a more personalized estimate of your vehicle's fuel economy on the website's Find Your Car page.
3. Download Gas Apps
Clark is a big fan of using gas apps to help you find the cheapest prices in your area.
“If you use an app like GasBuddy, you’re able to see right on your phone right near where you are the cheapest price for a gallon of gas,” Clark says.
Here’s a list of gas apps that can help you save money:
Clark says the pain at the pump is very real right now, but the good news is that it’s temporary. He says he expects prices to get better for consumers later in the year. But as of right now, companies on the supply chain side are going to cash in.
“The other benefit of this is Americans are showing much more interest in electric vehicles as gas prices go up and there are so many new models coming into the marketplace,” Clark says. “It’s not a one-horse race anymore. It’s not just Tesla. You have all these domestic producers that are going to make a variety of electric vehicles.”
He also says that as the U.S. demand grows for electric vehicles, that’s less oil the country needs and more we can export, which will only strengthen the American economy.
How are gas prices affecting your wallet? Tell us about gas prices in your area in our Clark.com Community!
More Gas-Saving Resources From Clark.com:
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