Despite gasoline prices climbing steadily higher in the past month, (up 18.6 cents in North Carolina and up 19.5 cents in South Carolina), motorists will pay less for gasoline in both states this Easter compared to last year.
With Easter occurring eight days earlier this year, average prices are 8.1 cents less in North Carolina and 9.1 cents less in South Carolina than they were for the 2006 Easter holiday, when the effects of Hurricane Katrina were still being felt.
"Some factors drive prices upward every spring," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Refineries retool to produce cleaner burning blends as required by law in several urban areas and perform maintenance chores. Additionally, people begin driving more as the weather warms, boosting demand when refineries temporarily lessen their output."
The North Carolina state average is $2.66 for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline, an increase of 36 cents a gallon since Christmas, with Durham averaging the highest at $2.65. The cheapest North Carolina cities are Fayetteville and Charlotte - both averaging at $2.61 a gallon.
While energy demand typically increases in the spring, it has been 1-2%
stronger this year than previously.
"Higher prices, unfortunately, are not driving gasoline consumption
downward," said Parsons. "We continue as a country to consume more without any strong reaction to price."
"With a Chicago refinery out of commission for at least two months due to a fire, the ongoing British-Iranian hostage situation and low domestic
inventories, it is unlikely prices will stabilize in the next few weeks,"
"Hopefully, we will see a drop in prices toward the end of April, as
typically occurs, unless there is an unforeseen event," said Parsons. "If
nothing unusual happens, prices should remain below $3 a gallon this summerin the Carolinas."
"We are in a global economy when it comes to oil," said Parsons. "Anything that threatens oil supplies can lead to speculation, driving prices higher. China and India are using more energy, just as we are in the United States, putting additional demand against crude oil supplies."
Easter weekend traditionally is not a major travel holiday but offers a
price barometer for the upcoming summer, when travel is once again predicted to be slightly heavier than last year¹s record driving demand.
Motorists looking for ways to conserve gasoline should consider:
- Keep your vehicle properly maintained, including scheduled oil
changes and air filter replacements.
- If you have more than one vehicle, drive the one with the better
- Make sure tires are properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires
can decrease gas mileage.
- Modify your driving behavior by using cruise control when
possible and keep highway speeds at the speed limit. Do not accelerate or decelerate quickly.
-When possible, consolidate trips.
- Buy the least expensive gasoline you can find. Gasoline is
federally regulated and basically the same for each octane rating. Visit
aaa.com/fuelfinder to find the cheapest gasoline in a 3-, 5- or 10-mile
radius of a zip code or city.
- Don¹t use anything other than regular unleaded gasoline unless
your owner¹s manual calls for premium.
- Avoid excess weight in your vehicle. When vacationing, keep
luggage inside the car rather than strapped on the roof where it will create drag.