Prices and Pain at the Pump Will Rise in 2018. Here’s How You Can Save

cars passing by a gas station.
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It looks like we might be seeing higher gas prices in 2018.

GasBuddy predicts the yearly national average cost of gas will be $2.57 per gallon, up 18 cents from 2017. Prices are expected to be the highest on average since 2014.

Although 18 cents doesn’t sound like a lot, GasBuddy’s 2018 Fuel Price Outlook estimates the average family will spend about $133 more on gas over the course of the year.

I’ll bet you’d rather put $133 toward anything other than gas.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, attributes much of the rising prices to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cutting oil production. However, he said factors like fuel taxes, the economy and supply and demand also affect prices.

DeHaan also said that one unexpected event, such as a hurricane, could make a lasting impact on fuel prices. You’ll want to take into consideration that GasBuddy’s annual price estimation for 2017 was about 10 cents higher than the actual average cost. Its 2016 estimation was 16 cents too high.

These predictions are like weather reports. The forecast doesn’t always hit spot on.

Where (and When) There’ll Be the Most Pain at the Pump

Though gas prices will likely stay under $3 for much of the country, some metro areas won’t be as fortunate.

GasBuddy predicts Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. will see gas prices above $3 in 2018.

Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Orlando, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Tampa may see prices hovering near that threshold.

Nationwide, April and May are the months prices are expected to be at their highest.

Be Proactive About Your Gas Usage

Though there may be nothing we can do to change gas prices directly, we can make smart choices so less money comes out of our wallets.

Snag the Best Prices

DeHaan recommends shopping around for the best deal before filling your tank.

“It’s become nothing short of crazy how one station might sell gasoline 20 to 40 cents lower or higher than a nearby competitor,” he said.

GasBuddy’s website and app contain crowd-sourced information on fuel costs at gas stations nearest you.

Drive Efficiently

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy offers the following tips on driving more efficiently, which results in using less gas (and saving more money):

  • Avoid aggressive driving, like speeding, rapid acceleration and braking
  • Limit driving over 50 miles per hour
  • Avoid transporting cargo on your roof
  • Try not to weigh down your car with unnecessary items
  • Stop idling and just turn off your car when you park
  • Maintain a constant speed on highways by using cruise control

Be Mindful of How Often You Drive

Cutting back on driving is another way to save on fuel costs.

Maybe 2018 will be the year you organize a carpool with coworkers who live nearby.

Or perhaps you’ll dust off your bike and start cycling to nearby destinations — or look into using a bike-share program. You might even consider walking more. (Bonus: You could get paid for doing so.)

Even something as simple as planning out your week to group multiple shopping trips in one outing can help you cut back on fuel usage and keep more money in your pocket.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.