If you think gas is expensive where you live, you may wonder if other states have it worse.
The cost of filling up a vehicle has fluctuated wildly in recent years. But the reasons are far more complex than you may think.
Today we’ll cover the US states with the highest fuel prices and explore ways to save some money at the pump.
What Makes Gas So Expensive?
Like anything, the value of fuel depends somewhat on supply and demand. The cost of crude oil is the most significant factor. Overhead from refineries, taxes, and distribution also have a major influence.
However, unlike other basic commodities, oil prices are based on futures. Companies enter binding agreements to purchase barrels at a set fee until the specified date on the contract. And that’s only part of the complication.
Because energy costs are part of the global market, local factors only have a minor influence. If the US drilled more oil, it wouldn’t affect our petroleum prices as much as you might think. Many political reasons also have a big effect on markets.
Supply chains faced prominent issues in the last few years, creating inflation in almost everything. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine also disrupted petroleum trade and distribution. Almost immediately, gasoline went up globally.
But the truth is, we’ve got it easy compared to other countries. Gas is far more expensive in nations with higher tax rates. The US also helps lower the cost at the pump with subsidies. But that doesn’t make your monthly fuel bill easier to look at.
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States with the Most Expensive Gas
Gas in some parts of the US is much more expensive than in others. Once again, a lot of that has to do with supply and demand. Some places just have a harder time getting fuel. On the other hand, tax rates also vary widely from one location to another.
But it’s not just oil that’s getting pricier. Inflation is still high and likely won’t be going down anytime soon. So when planning your road trip, you may want to avoid or limit gas purchasing in some of these destinations.
When it comes to expensive gas, Hawaii ties for number one. Part of it’s because everything costs more than on the mainland. It’s just the price you pay for living in paradise.
This island state is remote, and importing goods is expensive. To top it off, around 30% of their supply came from Russia before the war. The US has put an embargo down, so drivers are paying for it at the pump. There’s also a huge demand from an increased number of tourists.
Still, once you see that first sunset, you’ll briefly forget the cost of that short drive to the beach.
California is tied with Hawaii for the most expensive gas in the country. But it’s for a very different reason.
The Golden State has supply issues because of much stricter regulations. Every barrel has to meet rigorous standards regarding the pollution it creates. They also have a higher tax rate.
And the cost of filling your tank won’t get cheaper any time soon. Recent legislation is banning the production of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2035. That means the supply issues won’t go away, and prices will only increase until people convert to electric.
Filling up your tank in the Silver State is a gamble. And with the second highest prices in the country, you’re playing against the house.
While Nevada does have higher taxes than most states, the price of gasoline is partly due to its neighbor. They mainly deal with the same refineries as California, which means they pay the same premiums for environmentally friendly blends.
The state also faces shortages from the embargo on Russian oil, as well as increased demand from tourists.
Washington comes in at number four on the list. It also happens to have the third-highest tax rate on fuel. The state recently passed a new levy on CO2 emissions that had a big impact. And in a place with one of the highest average commutes, many people have to tighten their budgets.
Prices in the metro areas are slightly above the average, but some rural communities are struggling with expensive gas. If you plan to explore some of the beautiful national parks in Washington, prepare to pay a pretty penny to fill your gas tank.
Driving up those mountain roads can burn a lot of extra gas. Unfortunately, the cost of a full tank is hitting new peaks.
Suncor recently shut down the state’s only oil refinery after a fire. Now, residents are starting to see the effects on their wallets. Pump prices rose quicker than neighboring states. The governor declared emergency action to help get fuel to pumps faster. While experts think the extra supply made a big difference, people are still paying more.
Typically, residents pay below the national average for gas. Once the refinery returns to operating status, things may stabilize. But don’t expect prices to decrease much because demand always increases during tourist seasons. And in Colorado, travelers flock there all year long.
How to Improve Your Gas Mileage
One of the best ways to deal with expensive gas is to use less of it. Carpooling, taking a bus, or riding a bike are all good options. But there are other ways to conserve your fuel.
Basic maintenance is crucial. If you don’t take care of your car, it can get less mileage. Make sure you get oil changes regularly and replace the filters as needed. It’s also a good idea to monitor your spark plugs and other connections. In addition, rotating your tires can also help.
Speaking of which, low tire pressure wastes a lot of gas. If you don’t have a warning light, check your wheels and get air as needed. It’ll also increase their lifespan, so you don’t need to get new ones as often.
The more you haul around, the more you’ll need to fill up the tank. Get extra cargo out of your trunk so you’re not driving with excess weight.
And pay attention to how you use those pedals. Accelerating quickly only to slam on the brakes at the stop sign burns extra fuel. A more conservative approach can save you money. Don’t rush up to speed, and try taking your foot off the gas before it’s time to stop.
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Learning to Live With Expensive Gas
Gas is incredibly expensive and will likely stay that way for a while. So if you love road trips, explore ways to save money on fill-ups and visit places with cheaper fuel.
Supply issues and environmental policies will continue to play a significant role across the country. But until consumers have affordable electric vehicles, they’ll have to find other ways to save. So take care of your car and ditch the extra weight.
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