COPPELL, Texas – The statewide gas price average in Texas is $2.54 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel, according to the AAA Texas Weekend Gas Watch. That price is six cents more than this day last week and is five cents more per gallon compared to this day last year. Of the major metropolitan areas surveyed in Texas, drivers in Midland are paying the most on average at $2.70 while drivers in San Antonio are paying the least at $2.39 per gallon. The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.78, which is seven cents more than this day last week and 11 cents more than the price per gallon at this same time last year.
Around Texas, the El Paso area saw the largest weekly jump where drivers are paying 19 cents more for a gallon of regular unleaded gas. Meanwhile, drivers in the Sherman/Denison area experienced the largest increase from one year ago, with the local average up by 19 cents.
There are several factors behind gas prices climbing, including strong demand and inventories tightening. Overall, refinery utilization stands at 86% compared to 93% last year at this time due to unexpected and planned maintenance. However, Texas still remains one of the least expensive markets for gas in the country.
“Every metropolitan area across Texas saw an increase in gas prices this week,” said Daniel Armbruster, AAA Texas/AAA New Mexico spokesperson. “With spring driving season well underway, demand for retail gasoline is only expected to increase which will likely drive prices at the pump even higher through April.”
AAA Texas is recommending strategies that drivers can use to conserve gas right now and reduce annual fuel use by up to 50 percent.
Driving style and vehicle operation recommendations include:
Optimizing your daily driving. Maintain steady speeds. A car uses extra fuel accelerating. Cruise control may be a fuel saving option for motorists who drive a lot because a steady speed conserves fuel. This is helpful when driving on level roads. However, cruise control hurts mileage if you drive on hilly terrain.
Minimizing last-minute braking. Anticipate traffic conditions. Be alert for slow-downs and red lights and coast up to them, if possible. Drive smoothly, avoiding “jackrabbit starts.” The faster you drive, the more fuel used. Remember, however, that traveling slower than traffic flow can cause a safety hazard.
Making sure you’re shopping around. Looking for low gasoline prices in their local communities may save motorists money. Consumers can easily shop around online or on a mobile device by using the free AAA app, which automatically displays the lowest gas price near the user on the home screen. Traveling long distances to save a few cents wastes fuel and may cost motorists more money.
Don’t haul extra weight in the passenger compartment or trunk. Reducing extra weight can save up to 2% fuel economy for every 100 lbs. removed depending on the weight of the vehicle. Also lose the roof rack, if not used regularly. Carrying things on a roof rack increases aerodynamic drag and reduces fuel economy – year-round.
Using the air conditioner only when necessary. Air conditioning reduces fuel economy by about 5 percent or more in an older model vehicle. The rule of thumb on hot days is to open your windows when you are driving slowly (under about 45 mph) but close them and turn on the air conditioner at higher freeway speeds. Driving with the windows open can increase the aerodynamic drag, and this effect increases proportionately with speed.
More tips to save gasoline and money include:
Read your owner’s manual for the recommended fuel for your vehicle. If it says “regular unleaded gasoline” is recommended, using anything else is a wallet-drainer, and if it says “premium required” you must use it for proper vehicle operation. (However, when your manual says mid-grade or premium “recommended,” read carefully; sometimes it indicates you can use regular unleaded to save money, but you may experience reduced power and/or a small reduction in fuel economy.)
Look into gas rebate programs and other credit cards that provide a rebate every time you fill up. Some grocery stores also provide a gasoline discount program.
For families that have more than one vehicle, select the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets the task at hand. Don’t automatically jump into the SUV or truck when the sedan will do. Use the most energy-conserving vehicle you own as much as possible. Consider renting a fuel-efficient vehicle for vacations and long trips to save on fuel costs. Conversely, consider renting a full-size truck instead of buying it if you only need its capabilities occasionally.
Consolidate errands to cut down on driving and number of miles driven. Plan your route and look for a location where you can take care of all or most errands. Avoid excessive idling. Parking your vehicle and walking into the store or restaurant instead of using a drive through will save gas and the walking may improve your health. Choose a shopping center where you can park and walk to most of the stores you need.
Look at your work schedule; can you shift your working hours to avoid bumper-to- bumper traffic? Is car-pooling an option? Both can save gas and reduce vehicle wear.
Comparison shop by telephone, the Internet or through newspaper ads to reduce driving.
Properly maintaining your vehicle is critical in reducing gas use; Under-inflated tires, for example, can cut fuel economy by up to 2 percent per pound of pressure below the minimum recommended level. Worn spark plugs and dirty air filters also increase fuel consumption.
Prices up to date at press time using market prices posted at 3:41 a.m. Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free and revamped AAA App for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route and learn traffic conditions along that route, find discounts, locate parking, book a hotel and request and track AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at www.AAA.com/mobile.
To help members and non-members identify quality auto repair shops that can assist in the maintenance and repair of their vehicles, AAA offers the Approved Auto Repair program as a free public service. AAA-approved repair facilities meet and maintain high professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Motorists can look for the Approved Auto Repair sign at local auto repair facilities, or search for a nearby AAA-approved shop online at AAA.com/Repair. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.