If you’ve filled your car up lately, you’re probably well aware that the price of gas is on the rise.
But to give you a sense of how wild it has gotten, the application Gas Buddy has the current price of gas at over $3.40 a gallon right now.
For comparison sake, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, that's up from the $2.42 a gallon we saw in January and the $2.27 a gallon price we had in September of last year.
So what’s the deal?
Blame Inflation For High Prices
Well, as with most of the headaches we are currently experiencing with inflation, this is all a long hangover owing to the pandemic. That is a phrase everyone is sick of hearing, but it isn’t likely to abate anytime soon.
“Generally, one of the biggest factors influencing today's gas prices is supply and demand," says Nicole Petersen, spokesperson for app Gas Buddy. "Last year, during the pandemic, demand for gasoline dropped significantly as stay-at-home orders were put in place and people were driving less,”
“In response, less oil was produced. This spring and summer, as Americans got back on the road, oil production had to rise again to meet newfound demand, driving up prices," she says. "Other players like inflation and state gas tax increases also fall into the mix.”
Which Regions Have The Cheapest Gas?
Of course, there are variations in prices, which are mostly connected to where you live.
“The highest gas prices are most often seen in the Western U.S., due to increased regulations, taxes, etc. California actually recently surpassed its record high average price at $4.68/gal.," says Petersen, "and gas prices are up around the $4/gal mark in states like Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii.”
There are some geographic bright spots, however.
“Lower prices are often seen in the South. The only two states to have average gas prices under the $3 mark are currently Oklahoma and Texas.”
How To Find Cheap Gas Near You
Petersen says that while prices might change based on location, they don’t tend to change that much based on which filling station you choose.
If you don’t find cheaper gas as your local Texaco as opposed to your local Wawa, that’s mostly a trick of timing and when the station last re-upped their order.
“Typically, we don't see gas prices correlated to brands. Stations generally have contracts with suppliers, and because oil is such a used commodity and production and supply outlooks can change daily, the prices change daily depending on economic news,” says Petersen.
“Stations buy gasoline every three to five days and the world market can change wildly over those days, resulting in stations all paying a different price,” she adds.
“Then local factors like competition, branding, etc., can also play a role in what a station wants to charge. Local taxes and the cost of doing business all play a small role as well.”
So if you’re looking to knock a few pennies off your next fill-up, which as we all know can add up rather quickly, your best bet is to shop around a little and see what you can find.
“The best way to avoid overpaying for gas is to be price-conscious. Pay attention to gas prices in your area, and don't fill up at a station just because it's the first one you see," Petersen says.
"Sometimes, just going to a gas station one or two blocks over can save you upwards of 30¢/gallon.”