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Pain at the pumps

With summer ending and fall coming, consumers historically see a drop in gas prices. However, this fall, drivers may continue to feel pain at the pump when fueling up.

According to AAA, the national average price of gas has been at a seven-year high in recent days.

As of Monday morning, it was $3.30, up from $3.24 a week ago, $3.18 a month ago, and $2.18 a year ago.

As of Monday, Oct. 18, GasBuddy was listing $3.25 a gallon in Charlotte County at Exxon in Keysville.

Remember when the cost of gas was the cheapest in the spring of 2020 when people sat at home, businesses and restaurants were closed, and barely anyone traveled?

According to AAA, that drove the cost of supply and demand down, but now oil prices are skyrocketing, and drivers are hitting the roads once again.

“I don’t think we’re going to see much of a decline this fall like we usually see,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for fuel-savings app GasBuddy.

With prices hovering just over $3 a gallon, it costs $13.44 more to fill up a 15-gallon tank today than it did at this time in 2020.

That’s more than $50 a month in additional costs for anyone who fills up weekly.

Earl Strain, of Aspen, is one who is seeing the cost of fuel hit his wallet.

“I spend about $60 to fill the truck, and another $20 to fill three gas cans for the lawnmowers,” Strain said. “Prices are up because of many factors — global production is down, refineries are below capacity, pipelines are broken, and oil rigs have been damaged by hurricanes.”

Monique Williams agrees that there is more than one factor blamed for the jump in prices.

“I do believe the demand for oil, the pandemic and the economy are huge factors.” Williams said. “I am very concerned that the costs will keep rising to ridiculous prices. We are preparing for winter, and I’m thinking of the costs of heating homes.”

When it comes to filling up her tank Williams commutes to Williamsburg a few times each week. “I fill up three times a week, so I spend about $120-$150 weekly,” Williams said.

According to AAA, Virginia was one of 10 states to see the largest increases in their averages at 11 cents since Thursday, Oct. 14.

AAA noted that high crude prices (above $80 per barrel) remain the main culprit for rising pump prices in a recent press release.

Oil prices were in the low $60 in August and around $70 just last month in September.

While drivers may continue to feel pain at the pumps, there are a few tips from AAA that may help save some money.

— Combine your errands in one trip to limit driving time.

— Shop around for the best gas prices.

— Remove excess weight from the car.

— Drive conservatively. Aggressive acceleration and speeding could impact your miles per hour output.