The current national average price of regular gas is $3.19 per gallon, which is about a full dollar increase over prices in 2020. While the higher price tag for gas is felt in every driver’s wallet, there may be some comfort in knowing that current prices have still not reached levels seen in 2008, which at one point cost drivers $4.11 per gallon. Gas prices have actually decreased overall in the last 10 years, although Americans are now seeing a significant increase compared to 2020.
Numerous factors impact the price drivers pay at the pump, including the cost of crude oil, taxes, distribution and refining. Gas prices also depend on the ZIP code you fill up in, with states in the West paying the highest gas prices on average and Southeastern states paying the lowest.
Key gas price statistics
The key takeaways regarding how much drivers are currently paying in gas prices include:
- The current national average cost of gas is $3.19.
- The average cost of gas has increased 44% in the last year, from when it was $2.21.
- The highest recorded average price of regular gas was $4.11 in July of 2008.
- California currently maintains the spot for the state with the highest average price of gas, with regular prices averaging $4.39 per gallon.
- Current gas prices are now at a seven-year high, largely due to the impact from hurricanes Ida and Nicholas.
Why gas price matters
Gas prices impact personal budgets and finances for all drivers. As the cost of gas increases, it could mean having less money to spend on other necessities, such as food and housing. On the other hand, when regular gas prices decrease, it may free up money in drivers’ budgets to spend on premium gas, if a vehicle requires it. Although drivers can take steps to manage the amount of gas their vehicle consumes, gas prices are largely out of a driver’s control.
Higher gas costs may cause people to hold off on filling up their vehicles, which can cause vehicle damage and increase the chance of being stranded. Filling up at appropriate times with the right fuel is as important to vehicle ownership as carrying adequate auto insurance and keeping up with maintenance.
Gas prices by year
Gas prices within the last 10 years highlight how volatile the market can be. The table below highlights the average price per gallon for regular grade fuel by year. Compared to 2011, gas prices have decreased from $3.52 per gallon for regular fuel to $3.19, but current prices have increased significantly since 2020.
|Year||Average price per gallon (regular grade)|
*2021 price sourced from AAA
Historical gas prices and trends
Fluctuations in gas prices are a normal trend around the globe and there are numerous events that may cause further increases or decreases in prices. Gas prices are tied to supply and demand, which is why average gas prices by year can change dramatically. As demand for gas increases, the price of gas typically increases with it.
In 2020, Americans experienced the reverse end of the spectrum. There was less demand for gas due to many countries imposing lockdowns and limiting travel due to COVID-19. As a result, gas supply saw an unexpected increase with less demand, which brought the average price of gas down.
Historical gas prices also show how changes in cost can occur anytime there is a disruption in the supply chain, such as a fire or damage to a refinery. These events negatively affect the price of gas. For example, in 2008, when gas prices were at their highest, the cause was due to a combination of unprecedented demand from China, the Middle East and Latin America, as well as uncertainty in the supply chain, which all put pressure on the cost drivers paid. Gas price fluctuation over the last ten years demonstrates how vulnerable pricing is to changes in supply, demand, disruptions and weather.
Gas prices by state
The gas prices chart below illustrates how much the cost of gas can vary from one state to another. California, Hawaii and Nevada hold the top spots for having the most expensive current gas prices. The least expensive regular gas prices are found in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas.
States in the Southeast and parts of the Midwest, with the exception of Florida and Georgia, are paying the lowest amounts in the country. The Western states, including Alaska and Hawaii, are paying the highest gas prices. In some cases, drivers are paying $1.20 more per gallon than the national average, such as in California.
|State||Current average regular price of gas per gallon|
Gas prices by season
Seasonal weather is another factor influencing how much drivers pay at the pump. In the last 10 years, the least expensive months for gas prices have been November, December and January. The most expensive months have been May, June and July. Since gas prices are tied to supply and demand, it makes sense that prices are higher during the summer months when demand is higher. Higher prices could also result from weather-related events, such as hurricanes, which can disrupt and put added pressure on the demand.
|Month||Previous 10-year average gas price||Percent above or below average gas prices|
How to save gas
When it comes to gas prices, the volatility and fluctuations in the market are out of drivers’ hands. However, you can take steps to save how much gas you use and keep your monthly budget in line.
- Choose a vehicle with greater fuel efficiency. Look for models that get the best fuel economy in their class and avoid buying too large of an engine if possible. Vehicle type makes a large impact on the amount of gas used.
- Avoid driving at high speeds when possible. For every five mph above 50 mph, drivers essentially pay an additional $0.22 per gallon of gasoline, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Aggressive driving, such as speeding, braking too hard and accelerating too fast, also impacts the amount of fuel used,
- Combine trips for errands. Try to combine as many short trips together as you can. This saves fuel by limiting trips and preventing you from having to warm up your vehicle as often.
- Keep heavy items out of your vehicle. Keep a lighter load in your vehicle to help save on fuel costs. The more weight you load into your vehicle, the greater the use of gas. If you do have larger items, it’s recommended to store them in your trunk versus a roof rack. Roof racks cause drag, which uses a greater amount of gas.
- Maintain your vehicle. Keeping your car in top condition is another way to improve fuel efficiency. Keeping your engine tuned, emissions in check and tires inflated at the right pressure all improve fuel usage.