Gas Pump Taking Bigger Chunk of Your Check
If you’ve been paying much attention to the news, you’ll notice gas prices are again on the rise, and are on course to set records again this year. Even with the economy sputtering and many people out of work, fuel costs costs the average household just under four percent of their income, before taxes, according to the EIA.
…[T]he U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Monday that gasoline expenditures in 2012 for the average U.S. household reached $2,912, or just under 4 percent of income before taxes. This was the highest estimated percentage of household income spent on gasoline in nearly three decades, with the exception of 2008, when the average household spent a similar amount. Gasoline prices averaged $3.63 a gallon in 2012, according to EIA.
Market researchers blame tightening of demand, refinery maintenance, and the other usual suspects. The markets rallied around the rising crude oil prices, and drove them higher before investors decided to take profits and sell off their futures.
California is hardest hit with some of the nations highest prices. Demand is outpacing supply on the left coast, which is ironic, since California sits atop one of the largest shale oil deposits in the country. But even if that oil could be produced (technically it could, politically it doesn’t work out so well), there are no new refineries in the area to turn that crude into fuel.
Which leaves the average motorist at the mercy of the pump and stuck in traffic. Sitting in traffic is costing us 5.5 billion hours a year – and an estimate 121 billion dollars in “wasted time” and fuel. Not hard to imagine, given that any car idling in traffic gets zero mpg while it sits with the engine running.
But, you are not entirely powerless. Get creative about methods for reducing travel (is teleworking an option), share a ride when it works out, time your trips to avoid the heaviest congestion (go into the office early, and leave early if it’s an option), and when all else fails, adopt simple and effective eco-driving skills to make sure you put good use to every drop of fuel you are buying. Even if you are not “green” minded, it will make you a safer driver – which means a cheaper to insure driver, might help you become a happier person, and will certainly allow you to keep a little more of the money you earn from feeding the gas pump.