Pack up the car and hit the road this summer — gas prices are set to dip to $2.35 a gallon from Memorial Day through Labor Day versus $3.58 per gallon the same time last year.
The U.S. average price of gasoline will be $2.35 per gallon versus $2.40 currently, according to Gasbuddy.com, a site that tracks gas prices, down from its previous summer forecast of $2.79 per gallon released last December. That’s even less than the estimated summer gasoline prices of $2.45 per gallon predicted by the government’s Energy Information Administration. “Both numbers would represent the lowest summer prices in a decade,” says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with Gasbuddy.com.
The latest data from the EIA showed the largest week-to-week buildup of crude oil — 10.9 million barrels — since March 2001, which underscores the downward pressure on fuel prices, DeHaan says. “We’re confident in our projection,” he says. “The summer of 2015 will see the national average come in at a seasonal level we haven’t approached since 2005.” GasBuddy takes into account factors such as oil inventories, demand from China, production levels, economic conditions and refinery utilization.
Many American drivers have been saving money, thanks to lower gas prices. Around 17% of drivers reported saving $20 to $30 every time they fill up versus the same period last year, according to a survey released last month by American Consumer Credit Counseling, a nonprofit financial advisory in Auburndale, Mass. Another 9% saved $30 to $40 with each fill-up, while 65% said they are saving at least $10. And 70% of respondents said they used those savings to pay off debt, pay bills and increase their savings.
There are many tips to cut costs when you hit the road, says Sean Graw, spokesman for deals site BradsDeals.com. The National Parks Service has a number of free days throughout the year, including Presidents Day weekend, April 18-19 (opening weekend of National Park Week), Aug. 25 (National Park Service Birthday), Sept. 26 (National Public Lands Day), Nov. 11 (Veterans Day). A yearly National Parks pass ($80 per vehicle) will pay off if you visit four or more parks within a year of purchasing the pass.
Consumers will probably only reap these savings when it comes to filling up their own vehicle. Low gas prices are unlikely to be reflected in airline prices as most airlines hedge their fuel costs, buying at a certain price ahead of time. Depending on date selection and times flown, average airfares can easily go over $1,000 for peak summer travel due to high demand, but many domestic flights are expected to drop slightly on average this year, according to a report (pdf) by travel company Expedia. Flights will rise 4.5% from North America to London and by 6% to Rome.