5/25/2011 - Good news: Slightly lower gas prices expected
by Chris Lavender / Burlington Times-News
LOWER GAS PRICES FOR YOUR VACATION TO THE MOUNTAINS! Now that's what we all want to hear! Read the article below for some great tips on how to save even more at the pump - and have more money for your vacation in the mountains of Asheville and Western North Carolina!
With Memorial Day a week away, travelers should expect -- hold on to your gas caps -- lower prices at the gas pump.
Tom Crosby, AAA Carolinas vice president of communications, said the average price for regular unleaded gas was $3.80 per gallon statewide on Friday. The cost is about $1 higher than it was for the same period in 2010 but about 7 cents lower than it was the previous week.
Crosby said the cost at the pump will likely continue to decrease through at least July 4 but long-term forecasts are unpredictable.
"The good news is that gas continues to drop in price," Crosby said.
Drivers in Asheville pay the most for a gallon of regular unleaded, at $3.84 per gallon. Crosby said the Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem areas have the state's lowest average prices per gallon, at $3.76.
Crosby said AAA Carolinas would release its travel expectations for Memorial Day weekend travel sometime this week.
"We know more people will travel this year for Memorial Day than they did last year," Crosby said.
A poll conducted by the Associated Press-GfK earlier this month showed that 41 percent of Americans said higher gas prices have created themselves financial hardships. The poll's results were released last week.
The poll showed that families planned to make changes in their finances for at least the next six months, if gas prices are sustained at current levels.
Seventy-nine percent said that high gas prices remained a serious concern while 48 percent said they had changed their vacation plans to stay closer to home to save money on fuel costs.
Sixty-six percent said they had reduced their travel time to offset the higher prices at the pump while 44 percent said they had considered buying a more fuel efficient vehicle.
The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted May 5-9 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved interviews with 1,001 adults nationwide.
Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst, said Friday that gas prices will likely average between $3.25 and $3.75 nationwide in June and July. The current national average for regular unleaded gas per gallon is $3.87, according to DeHaan.
DeHaan said increased supply in gasoline inventories has helped drive gas prices lower at the pump in recent days.
15 Tips to Make Your Trip to the Pump Less Painful
1. Fill up your tank on Wednesday or Thursday before 10 a.m. Gas prices rise on Thursdays in anticipation of weekend travel. 10 a.m. is when most station owners make their price change for the day. Unless it is an emergency, do not buy gas Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
2. Don't let your car idle, either when you warm it up or when you are at a standstill. If you're going to be standing for more than a minute, running your engine wastes more gas than restarting the engine.
3. Buy gas when it's cooler during the day (like the early morning or at night) to reduce gas evaporation.
4. Remove unnecessary items in your car. Every 250 extra pounds eats up an extra mile-per-gallon of gas.
5. Avoid the convenient gas station on the side of the highway as you drive home from work which can be up to 15 cents more per gallon.
6. Save money with self-service and look for gas stations where paying cash costs the same as using a credit or debit card.
7. Double check the attendant and ensure, if you are paying by cash, that "cash" is noted on the pump. You could lose five-cents a gallon if he mistakenly presses "credit."
8. Drive less; combine errands, carpool, and plot out the shortest route with a driving website beforehand. It may sound obvious, but it is often overlooked.
9. Check for traffic and detours online or on the radio prior to beginning your drive to avoid wasteful backtracking and idling.
10. Keep your windows closed when driving on the highway. Open windows can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. In stop-and-go traffic, open the windows and turn off the air conditioning to save more money.
11. Rent fuel-efficient cars when you travel and research reasonably priced places to buy gas before you leave.
12. Confirm with your mechanic what octane gasoline your car's engine really needs. Most car engines do not require high octane though the manual will say its "recommended."
13. Download a Gas App for your phone. If you have a Smartphone, there are plenty of free apps that help you find the cheapest gas near your destination. GasBuddy makes it easy with its free app, and Mapquest has an online finder for gas prices.
14. Buy Discount Gas Gift Cards. Did you know you don't have to pay full price for a gift card? Sites like GiftCardGranny.com offer a diverse selection of discount gas gift cards from various card vendors.
15. Be loyal to one gas company and get rewarded with its cash-back credit card reward program.