Gas prices in the St. Louis metro area have been rising steadily.Unfortunately, local experts are forecasting that the trend will continue.
Currently, gas prices in the St. Louis metro area are averaging $3.56 a gallon, according to AAA of Missouri. That’s up from $2.59 a gallon the same time last year--an increase of almost $1.
“It takes a significant bite out of family budgets, especially when you consider that a family with two cars uses about 1,200 gallons of gas a year,” said Mike Right, a spokesman for AAA of Missouri. “With an increase of $1 a gallon--that’s a $1,200 hit,” he said.
Motorists in the are paying four cents less than the per-gallon average, according to a survey of prices on StLouisGasPrices.com.
While predicting the future of gas prices is not an exact science, Right said all of his reliable sources, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, are projecting fuel costs will rise this year.
“Unfortunately, gas prices will likely go up,” Right said. “There’s about a 25-percent chance that we’ll hit $4 a gallon over the summer.”
The reason gas prices are up is because the crude oil is more expensive, Right said. Crude oil is selling at roughly $105 per barrel now, compared to last year at the time when it sold at $82 per barrel.
“Crude oil prices are rising because of the anticipated increase in demand from China and India--countries that are seeing a quicker recovery from the recession,” he said. “Plus, the situation in the Middle East is causing anxiety among the crude oil markets and now Libya, which had a higher quality of crude oil, is pretty much out of the game.”
As the price of gas rises, families tend to get more serious about cutting down on the commodity, Right said. They consider carpooling, purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles and seeking vacation spots that are closer to home.
Motorists can also cut back on fuel consumption by maintaining their vehicles and driving more efficiently. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy offers several fuel-savings tips, some of which include:
- Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and excessive braking can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and by 5 percent around town.
- Remove excess weight. Avoid carrying unnecessary and heavy items in your trunk. An extra 100 pounds can reduce your mpg by up to 2 percent.
- Don’t idle. Idling wastes gas and pollutes the environment. Consider staggering your work hours to avoid rush-hour traffic times or telecommute, if possible.
- Use cruise control and overdrive gears. While on the highway, maintaining a constant speed, in most cases, will save gas. Plus, using overdrive gears allows your vehicle’s engine speed to go down, which saves gas and reduces engine wear.
- Get a tune-up. A properly tuned vehicle can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
- Keep tires properly inflated. By keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, you can improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent. Underinflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every one-pound drop in pressure of all four tires.
- Use the proper oil grade. You can improve gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil.