Archive for Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gas prices could climb with arrival of spring

Regular gasoline was priced at more than $3.47 per gallon Tuesday, March 22, 2011, at the BP station at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Pflumm Road.

Regular gasoline was priced at more than $3.47 per gallon Tuesday, March 22, 2011, at the BP station at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Pflumm Road.

March 23, 2011

A change in seasons could soon result in another increase in gasoline prices.

Gasoline prices, which are hovering above $3.40 per gallon in the area, could rise another 10 cents to 15 cents when outlets begin switching out winter fuel for summer fuel, said Jim Hanni, executive vice president of AAA Kansas.

Gasoline prices
AAA Kansas reports average gasoline prices in the state's largest cities in its weekly Fuel Gage report. Check it out here

The summer gasoline blend uses different fuel additives. It produces less pollution but is more expensive. Before each winter and summer, production slows at refineries as the transition is made.

“In some parts of the country, (the switch) has already happened. In other parts it hasn’t happened yet. The general feeling is that it could be a 10-cent to 15-cent shift upwards as blends switch out,” Hanni said.

Last month, gasoline prices on the Kansas side of the metro area were at $3.11 per gallon, and a year ago they were at $2.69. In the past two weeks, prices have stabilized, but that could change as the summer fuel arrives.

Hanni doesn’t expect Kansas to hit the $4-per-gallon mark anytime soon, but notes that international factors make prices hard to predict.

Along with unrest in Egypt and Libya, the market could be shaken by the earthquake in Japan. Already driving prices upward was an unusually cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere, brisk consumption of oil in China and strong investment in oil futures, Hanni said.

To help ease the pain at having to pay high prices at the pump, Hanni offers some advice on how to conserve gas.

• Drive more efficiently: Driving less aggressively also means driving more efficiently, Hanni said. Rapid acceleration and braking uses 33 percent more gasoline at high speeds and 5 percent more gasoline while driving in city traffic. For every 5 mph over 60, Hanni said, drivers will use the equivalent of an additional 24 cents a gallon. Another tip is to use cruise control, which allows for a constant speed and saves on gas.

• Maintain your vehicle: For cars that have failed an emission test or are noticeably out of tune, fixing them can improve gasoline mileage by 4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Having properly inflated tires and the right grade of motor oil also helps improve fuel efficiency.

• Plan combined trips: Driving less is a great way to save on gasoline mileage. Finding people to commute with or combining errands into one trip helps cut down on gasoline use.

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