BOONE — Like other North Carolinians, High Country residents can expect greater pain at the pump as summer draws closer.

According to GasBuddy.com, Boone area gas prices hovered around $2.60 per gallon as of April 16.

“Spring has officially sprung, so you have folks hopping in their vehicles and going all over the place,” said AAA Public Relations Manager Tiffany Wright. “With the warmer weather comes a greater demand, so you see this trend happen pretty much every year around this time.”

Another significant factor contributing to the rising prices is the “spring cleaning” that goes on at refineries whenever they switch over from a winter blend to a summer blend. The latter is more expensive because of adjustments made in order to prevent potential evaporation that could be caused by higher outside temperatures.

As of now, North Carolina is still well below the national average, which is at $2.83 as of Monday, April 15, and Wright doesn’t expect the state to cross the $3 mark.

“I never say never, but I doubt we’ll go over $3 unless something major shakes things up, like a natural disaster that could halt production and distribution,” Wright said. “If folks want to look at this through a glass-half-full perspective though, then just look at what people out West, like Californians, are paying.”

Gas prices have increased significantly across North Carolina since the end of 2018. The average price for a gallon of gas on Dec. 28, 2018, in North Carolina was $2.16 per gallon, according to www.northcarolinagasprices.com, while the price per gallon of unleaded gas in the state as of Monday, April 17, was $2.66.8 per gallon.

Although Wright is unsure how long this spike will last, she offered several tips that people can follow to improve gas mileage and make the most of this situation, such as:

  • Not speeding. The faster you drive, the more fuel you lose. According to the United States Department of Energy, every five miles driving greater than 50 miles per hour is close to paying about 18 cents per gallon.
  • Accelerating gradually. Gunning the engine consumes more fuel.
  • Combining errands. If it is possible, park in one centralized place, and walk to where you need to go rather than driving from point a to b to c, and so forth.
  • Checking and maintaining the recommended tire pressure, which is affected in the transition between winter and spring.
  • Downloading the GasBuddy app, which showcases real-time gas prices at various stations across the country.

For more information related to this subject, visit https://carolinas.aaa.com.

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