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By Julia Glum
October 26, 2021
Gas Pump In Front Of Increasing Bar Chart
Money; Shutterstock

You're not the only one getting sticker shock at the gas pump lately: Americans are collectively spending at least $480 million more on gasoline per day now than they did last fall.

That eye-popping number comes from Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, an app that tracks real-time gas prices at over 150,000 stations across the country. GasBuddy found that nationwide, the average cost for regular gas right now is about $3.36 per gallon. At this time last year, prices hovered around $2.16.

The $480 million is a ballpark figure based on the premise that gas costs about $1.20 more today than in October 2020, and that Americans use roughly 400 million gallons of motor gasoline a day. There's some nuance, and not only because gas prices change every day. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, consumption actually fell to 338 million gallons per day last year due to the pandemic. If this fluctuation in consumption was accounted for, the difference would be nearly $614 million.

Math aside, the trend generally tracks with what drivers everywhere are experiencing.

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In a Monday news release, AAA pointed out that fuel prices have increased every day for nearly a month.

“With the U.S. economy slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic, demand for gas is robust, but the supply is tight,” AAA's Andrew Gross said in the release. “We haven’t seen prices this high since September of 2014.”

Expanding demand combined with the limited production of wholesale crude oil is pushing up the price of gas so drastically that even White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had to address the issue at a Friday briefing.

"There are limitations to what any president can do as it relates to gas prices," she said, adding that President Joe Biden is communicating with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and pushing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate possible price gouging.

The outcry around gas prices likely only going to climb as drivers hit the road for the holidays. Last winter, GasBuddy found that a third of people planned to take road trips to celebrate events like Christmas. The situation is in flux this holiday season, as well, with the expected number of travelers both increasing and decreasing, depending on which poll you're looking at and what's happening with the Delta variant of COVID-19 at any given moment.

Wondering how to save money on gasoline? The Department of Energy recommends you turn off your engine whenever you're parked for 10 seconds or more, drive at slower speeds, avoid weighing down your car, heed the check engine light and more.

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