Save Money On Gas In The Summer Months
Have you ever noticed the pattern of gasoline prices throughout the year? If so, you have probably noticed that within the months of spring and summer gas prices tend to rise. Consumers assume it is due to the higher travel rates in the summertime. However, there is a deeper more scientific reason that we see gas prices rise in the warmer months. In this blog I will be breaking down the science of gas prices in the spring/summer and how readers can potentially use this to save money on gas.
There is this thing called the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) that needs to be met in all gasoline blends. The RVP is established through a test measuring pressure of the blend at 100 degrees F. The RVP changes according to the temperature, and when the temperatures rise (thanks to the RVP) so do gas prices. According to Forbes.com, “Normal atmospheric pressure varies with location, but averages about 14.7 lbs. per square inch at sea level… If a liquid has a vapor pressure greater than atmospheric pressure, that liquid boils”. Due to higher temperatures in the summertime the RVP needs to remain well below 14.7 per square inch (psi) or else it will boil, vaporize, and pollute.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed strict rules regarding RVP to avoid pollution. Gasoline refiners have gasoline that is referred to as a summer blend that does not exceed 7.8 psi (9.0 psi in some regions). This blend is more expensive to make due to the lower levels of butane. To sum butane up: It is crazy cheap. On top of that, its RVP is around 52 psi. Due to the high RVP more can be added to winter blends of gasoline thanks to the greater pressure allowance in that blend.
As of May 1st, every year this special summer blend is in every gas system around the country. This strict deadline of blend-changing shakes hands with supply and demand. The supply is a little lower right as summer travels pick up. Leading to, you guessed it, higher gasoline prices. Why the rise of gas prices is inevitable, there are ways you can save money on car fuel in these warm months.
Although avoiding higher gas prices and avoiding the summer blend are impossible, there are steps you can take to save money on gasoline in the summer months.
1. Use Recommended Grade of Motor Oil
Do you know what type of motor oil your cars manufacturer recommends for your vehicle? If the answer is no, it may be time to do a little research on the subject. According to the Business Insider, using the appropriate grade of motor oil can ameliorate the vehicles fuel economy. “According to the EPA, using 10W-30 in an engine that call for 5W-30 can increase dual costs by $0.04 to $0.07/ gallon” (businessinsider.com).
The frequency of oil changes can also make a difference towards your fuel economy. Try getting in the habit of paying close attention to the little sticker on your windshield that gives indication of when you need your next oil change. If your vehicle is running with older and thicker oil, it takes more energy (gasoline) to get that pumped through the system. Between oil changes, check your dip stick from time to time to ensure there is no oil leak. Receiving the correct oil and frequent maintenance can improve fuel economy.
2. Slow Down!
While this may be the most obvious, and for some, the most difficult, slowing down on the road is a guaranteed way to improve fuel economy. The faster and more defensive you drive, the more gas you use. According to Firestone’s blog, 6 Simple Ways to Get Better Gas Mileage in Hot Weather: “Aggressive driving, such as rapid acceleration and hard braking, can negatively affect your highway gas mileage by up to 33% and your city mileage by 5%, according to the DOE”. The Business Insider claims fuel usage is increased anytime a driver is above 50 mph. Next time you are in a hurry or feeling the need for speed, be mindful of the outside temperature and your fuel economy. It is the small actions that will save you the most money.
3. Check Tire Pressure
Keeping your tires properly inflated can be a simple way to save money on gasoline. It is important to keep in mind, tire pressure does fluctuate with the outside temperature. As tire temperature rises, the air inside expands. This important to recognize and be aware to not overfill your tires in the summertime. “You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3% by keeping your tires inflated to the correct pressure, according to the department of energy. (DOE). The lower the pressure, the bigger hit to your gas mileage. For every 1 psi drop… your under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2%” (Firestonecompleteautocare.com). If you are not sure what your proper tire pressure number is, check the number on the side of your tire or the owner’s manual in your glove box.
4. Don’t Strap Items to Your Roof
Going on a road trip is going to take enough gas as is. Something travelers fail to realize is how the aerodynamics of their car can end up costing them more in gas. According to the Business Insider, “Strapping luggage or a cargo box to the rood is the aerodynamic equivalent of mounting a small wall on top of your car. At interstate speeds (67-75 mph), the EPA estimates that removing the cargo box from your roof can increase fuel economy by as much as 25%, or as savings of roughly $0.93 per gallon for $3.70 gallon of gas”. Depending on how far your trip is, you could be costing yourself a lot more then necessary. To improve aerodynamics and fuel economy, try getting a trailer hitch box or a pull-along trailer.
5. Air Conditioning Awareness
To round out the list on how to save money on gasoline in the summer months, we are ending with what may be the most obvious, shutting down the air conditioning. If you are reading this from the Ozarks, you are aware of the heat wave we just had- where air conditioning is a matter of life or sweat. However, you are also probably aware of the cooler temps we have been experiencing this week. An excellent way to save money on gasoline is to turn that AC off when it is not totally necessary and be mindful of the levels at which you keep it at. For example, when you get in your car after it has been parked in the sun, you want to blast it. As soon as your car cools off turn that air conditioning down a notch to increase your fuel economy. While some summer nights can be unbearably hot, remember to turn that AC off and roll down your windows when you can.
Gas prices fluctuate year-round. In some cases, it is the state of our economy, in others, it’s the temperature outside. If you see gas prices rising when the weather changes, be mindful of the fact that it is happening to help with air pollution, and a subject of supply and demand. While it can be frustrating, it is inevitable. The good news is there are always things that can be done to improve the fuel economy of your car. If high gas prices really get you down, take comfort in the fact that there is always an electric car out there waiting for you. To learn more about saving money on gas and improving your fuel economy, visit the links below.