Did you know that in 2021, the U.S. consumed 134.83 billion gallons of finished motor gasoline? That’s equivalent to a staggering 369 million gallons, on average, per day!
However, motor gasoline isn’t the only fuel used in the U.S.; it also relies on natural gas, oil, and coal. Indeed, the nation’s per capita consumption is 252 cubic feet of natural gas, 2.3 gallons of oil, and 7.89 pounds of coal.
Those figures prove how crucial such energy sources are to Americans. But unfortunately, that also means they must face the cost of fuel, which is, by no means, cheap.
So why exactly is fuel so expensive? What factors drive its ever-increasing costs, and is there anything you can do about it?
We’ve laid out the facts answering those questions in this guide, so keep reading.
1. Declining Fossil Fuel Assets Increases Costs
More than 80% of the total energy used in the U.S. comes from oil, coal, and natural gas. All three, in turn, are fossil fuels, which took hundreds of millions of years to form.
Unfortunately, that’s also why such energy sources are non-renewable.
For the same reason, current fossil fuel supplies are diminishing. So even if scientists discover new reserves, the ones they find aren’t enough to meet the demand. Hence, experts estimate that oil and natural gas may run out within half a century.
That continued decline in fossil fuels is one of the reasons fuel cost continues to creep up. Remember: When a supply of a commodity is low, but the demand is high, its price usually increases.
2. Crude Oil Affects the Cost of Fuel
Crude oil, a flammable liquid made chiefly of hydrocarbons, is the source of petroleum. It’s a raw material dug beneath the earth through drilling processes. Once unearthed, it undergoes refining that transforms it into gasoline.
Crude oil’s price has always been volatile, which is again due to supply and demand. For instance, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, its cost dropped, and so did gas prices. That’s because people couldn’t travel, and thus, there was a reduced need for fuel.
However, crude oil’s price increased significantly again, starting in October 2021. That was mainly due to high COVID-19 vaccination rates and looser pandemic-related restrictions. These two factors led to increased travel, thereby spiking petroleum demand.
Things worsened with the Russian invasion of Ukraine when the U.S. sanctioned Moscow. Included in that sanction was Russia’s crude oil, which accounts for about 10% of the global market. As a result, less crude oil became available, but its price rose because the demand didn’t change.
Another factor driving fuel costs is the cost itself of refining crude oil. It’s become more expensive because refineries have shut down over the last few years. Because of that, fewer plants are transforming the commodity into petroleum.
That reduced plant capacity has then led to a decrease in petroleum production. As a result, the supply has also decreased while causing petrol prices to increase.
3. You Can Spend Less on Motor Fuel
While there’s not a lot you can do about rising motor fuel costs, there are strategies to cut your expenses. Check out the tips below, as they can teach you how to buy fuel yet not give up an arm and a leg.
Stay Within or Under 50 Mph
As much as possible, drive at speeds no faster than 50 miles per hour.
That’s because if you go five mph beyond that, your fuel economy decreases by as much as 7%. Moreover, that decrease applies to every five mph beyond 50 mph. And every additional five mph is equivalent to paying an extra 28 cents per gallon at the pump.
So, why not ease up on the gas pedal to save on your fuel expenses? Plus, staying within or under 50 mph puts less strain on your engine. The less stress your engine deals with, the longer your sweet ride can last.
Remove Unnecessary Cargo From Your Ride
The more extra weight your vehicle carries, the harder its engine has to work to propel itself. All that additional work then forces it to consume more fuel. So if you carry salt, sand, or loads of tools in your trunk, consider removing them.
You might also want to rethink your decision to install cargo containers on your car roof. They not only add weight to your ride; they also increase its wind resistance. But unfortunately, that makes your engine work harder, and thus, guzzle more fuel.
Work With Mobile Fleet Fueling Services
If you own company vehicles, consider using a mobile fleet fueling service. By doing so, your drivers don’t have to go to a gas station to top up, which can consume even more fuel. Moreover, if you get fleet fueling here, you can reduce your business’ fuel costs by up to 20%.
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
Properly inflated tires reduce the energy needed to propel your vehicle along a road. By contrast, even a slight flattening or deformation makes it harder for your tires to move your car. So to compensate, your ride uses more energy (in other words, gas) to help your tires roll.
For that reason, it’s imperative to keep your tires properly inflated. Your best bet is to follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations. You should find this info on your owner’s manual or a sticker by the driver’s side door.
Also, don’t forget that your tires lose about one PSI per month. Hence, it would be best if you made it a habit to check your tire pressure monthly. Then, pump air back into your tires if their pressure is one PSI less than recommended.
Start Cutting Back on Fuel Costs
Remember: Even if you can’t control the rising cost of fuel products, you can cut back on your fuel expenses. Aside from the tips above, you may also want to consider carpooling with family and friends. And if that’s not enough, you can always go on public transportation from time to time.
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