Summer Savings Coming to a Gas Pump Near You
BELLEVUE, Wash. — As Washingtonians embark on summer road trips, gas prices are getting cheaper across the state. Today’s state average is 10 cents cheaper than a month ago when motorists were paying $3.54 – the most expensive state pump prices since 2014. The current average for regular unleaded gasoline in Washington State is $3.44/gal. The highest priced major cities include: Olympia ($3.53), Seattle-Bellevue-Everett ($3.56) and Tacoma ($3.50). The cheapest gas in a Washington State city can be found in: Clarkston ($2.97), Spokane ($3.13), Tri Cities ($3.21), and Mount Vernon-Anacortes ($3.28).
For the 70% of West Coast residents who say they consider gas prices too high at $3.50, they will find some relief at the pump this summer. AAA forecasts drivers will see the state average drop to as low as $3.35 in coming weeks, which is still too expensive for half of West Coast region residents, according to AAA’s latest gas price survey.
“The highest prices of the year could be in the rearview mirror,” said Jennifer Cook, AAA Washington spokesperson. “The good news is that with most regional refineries operating at normal levels and cheaper crude oil prices, summer gas prices are poised to drop as much as another dime and be less than last summer.”
Even with cheaper gas prices on the horizon, three out of four people (75%) residing in West Coast states say they would change driving habits or make lifestyle changes to offset gas costs. Of those, 32% would make changes when pump prices reach $3.25 while 45% put $3.50 as their tipping point. Changes consumers said they would make include, combining errands or trips, driving less, reducing shopping or dining out, delaying major purchases and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Fuel Savings Tips for Consumers
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s American Driving Survey, on average Americans drive 31.5 miles a day and spend 51 minutes behind the wheel. AAA offers a few ways to conserve fuel:
- Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than larger models.
- Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible travel outside high-traffic times of day.
- Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, aerodynamic drag causes fuel economy to drop off significantly as speeds increase above 50 mph.
- Avoid prolonged idling in general. If your car is stopped for more than 60 seconds, shut off the engine to save fuel. Many newer cars have automatic engine stop-start systems that do this.
- Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
- In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunscreen to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning (and thus fuel) to cool down the car.
Crude + Demand Factors
Historically, summer pump prices are determined by crude oil prices and gasoline demand. While crude prices have been cheaper in 2019, AAA is monitoring a number of circumstances that could cause crude oil market prices to increase. This includes reductions in global and domestic crude supply, exports, and U.S. gasoline demand. If demand rises while gasoline stocks remain low during peak driving season, pump prices could see modest increases.
The forecast of a major hurricane making landfall could also impact demand, which can dramatically impact prices until normal operations resume. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, ongoing El Nino conditions, and an enhanced West African monsoon could produce nine to 15 named storms in 2019 –with four to eight hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms – with six hurricanes; three of them major.
As Americans settle into summer, many outliers could pave the way for unexpected price bumps, so stayed tuned. Motorists can always find the latest national and state gas price averages and trends at GasPrices.AAA.com.