( CNBC.com )
Filling up at the pump comes with a hefty dose of sticker shock.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and global supply concerns have sent gas prices to record highs — hitting $6 in some parts of the country.
To combat the spike in energy costs, the White House said it will release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic reserves “to serve as bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up.”
The increased supply should help push prices down since more than 50% of the cost of gasoline is based on the price of oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Expect prices at the pump to fall “maybe a penny every day or two,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
“We could see the national average price of gasoline fall back under $4 a gallon in the few weeks ahead,” he said. “Diesel should fall back under $5 a gallon nationally, as well.”
However, the exact impact on prices will be determined by the amount of oil purchased in the market and how long the daily releases go on, according to AAA.
Still, “the global oil market remains highly volatile, so additional news that threatens supply could put upward pressure on oil prices,” AAA also said.
Already, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline fell two cents this week to $4.22.
Now, nearly 9 in 10 car owners are concerned about being able to afford filling up, according to a separate report by AutoInsurance.com.
To shield yourself from unpredictable prices at the pump, consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch has these tips:
- Track gas prices. Apps like GasBuddy, Gas Guru and AAA TripTik can track down the cheapest price per gallon between gas stations. Even if the difference doesn’t seem like much, it can add up to hundreds of dollars a year.
- Pay with cash. The price per gallon can be 10 cents to 15 cents more per gallon for credit card transactions. Pay with cash instead to get the lower price or use a gas rewards credit card to earn cash back on those charges. (CNBC’s Select has a full roundup of the best the best cards for fueling up based on your consumer habits.)
- Drive strategically. Carpooling to and from work and school or sports practice can dramatically reduce your time on the road. You can even find ride shares using sites like ZimRide, RideJoy or eRideShare.com, Woroch advised. Also, order online and look for free delivery to cut the cost of getting groceries, takeout and other daily essentials.
- Sign up for loyalty programs. In addition, loyalty programs, which many major gas station chains have, can help offset the price at the pump. Some grocery store chains may also offer cents-per-gallon rewards. For example, Kroger and Shop & Stop give fuel points for every $1 spent on groceries, which can be redeemed at participating gas stations.