As I heard that, I happened to be passing a gas station with their gas at $3.89- you better believe I pulled in and filled up!
I get the Consumer Reports Average Gas Prices report via RSS, and Monday's report showed what is typical- we in the Midwest are at or slightly below the national average. All that tells me is, our prices are headed where much of the country is already at- well over $4 a gallon. The day has come- The Indy Star is reporting that some gas station prices shot up to $4.19 this morning around the city. What does this mean for me?
I was discussing with Kacie earlier this week about gas prices- will we hit $5 a gallon? How will it affect us? We did some quick calculations and figured out I have a 9 mile commute to work each way, resulting in 90 miles of commuting each week. My car reliably gets 30-33 miles per gallon, so I expend 3 gallons, or $12-$15 a week getting to and from work while prices are between $4 and $5 a gallon. My husband, on the other hand, drives 23 miles to work, 230 miles a week, with a car that gets comparable gas mileage. His commuting costs are 7.66 gallons per week, or between $31 and $38, for $4 & $5 gas. For us, we can absorb this extra $10 a week as gas prices continue to climb, but this is not true of everyone. This will be an extra $500 a year for us. For people living at or beyond their means or struggling to make ends meet, $500 is a lot. Even for us, it's a lot. It's $500 that I wish was being spent or saved elsewhere, so it's valuable to do these calculations and see how I could avoid putting it towards gas.
What could we do to stave off rising gas prices?
- Commute together: Today, Josh took me to work because my car's in the shop. According to Google Maps, this makes his commute 28.1 miles one way rather than 23- but on a normal day, our combined commute is 32 miles one way. By riding together, we save 13% on the trip. At $4 a gallon, we're currently spending $43 per week driving separately, and would spend $37 a week riding together. This makes his already-long commute about 5 minutes longer, however, and results in me getting into the office later than I would on my own.
- Buy more fuel efficient cars: This is a solution for many people, but I'm not sure, with our two Civics, that we could do much better in a practical way. Actually, plans are in the works to get a less fuel efficient car, a Camry, this summer. If we see the efficiency is very different, I will end up driving it because I have a shorter commute.
- Drive in an efficient way: Have you heard of hypermilers? While I'm not willing to go to some of the extremes that some hypermilers do, their principles are sound.
- Drive less elsewhere- combine trips: Based on my calculations above, I should only have to get gas once every four weeks. As it is, I fill up about once every two weeks, which means I'm driving outside of my trip to work and back quite a bit. I could bring my coupons and shopping list to work and swing by on the way home. Other errands could be run by Josh. Because I typically get home an hour or more before Josh, making a stop on the way home wouldn't really affect home life.
- Travel less: We don't have any big vacations planned this year, though there will probably be at least one drive to Wisconsin for a reunion, as well as fairly-local camping trips. CNN suggests a "staycation"