SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The arctic blast hit the gas on prices rising at the pump.
“Texas is home to so many of the nation’s refineries,” said Patrick De Haan, a petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “In fact, 20% of the nation’s capacity went down as a result of this cold weather.”
“We’re going to see prices going up, at least for the next few weeks,” said Daniel Armbruster, with AAA Texas. “Remember before the storm they were already going up just because crude oil prices had been rising.”
Look for prices to increase about five to 15 cents a gallon until refineries are running.
“They can’t come back online until they’re inspected,” Armbruster said. “There’s a whole slew of things that they go through to make sure that it’s safe to resume operation, but the good news is nearly two dozen of the impacted refineries are expected to restart operations this week.”
However, San Antonio drivers are likely to pay less even as prices rise.
“Texas is home to some of the lowest gasoline taxes and it is in the backyard of oil and refining capacity. So, Texas should avoid $3 (a gallon),” De Haan said.
That isn't the case elsewhere in the country.
“They have really gone up nationally,” De Haan said. “We had been anticipating an increase of 10 to 20 cents a gallon nationally.”
That price shouldn't San Antonio driver’s budget.
“I think when we are approaching, like $4 a gallon for gas, that gets peoples' attention,” said Thomas Tunstall, the director of research at UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development. “But, yeah, it was more fun when gas was a buck-fifth, but $2.40, $2.50, it’s manageable.”
Experts said it is likely gas will remain affordable in 2021, but the last year has proven there can always be an exception when it comes to predicting gas prices.
“The ice storm, COVID before that,” Tunstall said. “What’s next is anybody’s guess, but I’m thinking it’s going to be something. So that’s what we’ll have to watch out for is, you know, what that something will be and how it might affect demand.”
You can keep your cost down with a gas price app. Both AAA and Gas Buddy offer one.
“If you’re not doing that before you fill up, you’re probably throwing away over $100 a year, especially now with the economy in dire straits,” De Haan said. “Just take 10 to 15 seconds and use your favorite app. Just to give you an example: Today, in San Antonio, the lowest price for a gallon is $1.84. If you’re not shopping around, you may be pulling into a station that’s selling for $2.42.”
You will protect your pocketbook if you cost compare before you pump no matter the price.
AAA Texas offers these tips to save on gas:
- Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, aerodynamic drag causes fuel economy to drop off significantly as speeds increase above 50 mph.
- Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard acceleration. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.
- Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in winter. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.
- When driving in town, adjust your speed to “time” the traffic lights. This reduces repeated braking and acceleration that consume additional fuel.
- When approaching a red light or stop sign, take your foot off the gas early and allow your car to coast down to a slower speed until it is time to brake.
- Accelerate smoothly with light to moderate throttle. This allows the automatic transmission to upshift into higher gears sooner, reducing engine rpm and saving fuel.
- Use cruise control to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because a loss of vehicle control could result.
- Try to minimize your use of air conditioning.
- Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible travel outside high-traffic times of day.
- If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey.