As we move into spring and the hotter months here in Vegas, we start to see an increase in our gas prices. This doesn’t just happen here though, it happens all across the country. It’s a common fallacy that summer gas is more expensive due to higher demand, like more road trips and more gas used to fuel the A/C on those hot days. While demand definitely plays a factor in gas prices, the summer hike-up is due to EPA Regulations.
Between June 1st and September 15th the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, requires oil companies to sell gas that is less likely to evaporate. This is due to the fact that higher temperatures cause more evaporation and smog, which leads to less gasoline in the fuel tank. In cooler months, evaporation is less of a concern and regulations by the EPA are less strict.
In the winter, oil companies are able to use a chemical called Butane. It is the same chemical you find in Bic Lighters. It is cheap to use but evaporates easily which is ideal during the cold. On the downside, Butane contains less energy than other petroleum products which means you get less bang for your buck. This is the reason you probably experience worse fuel mileage in the colder months.
Throughout the entire year, your fuel costs will be relatively the same. Between higher prices in the summer, and having to buy more in the winter, you shouldn’t sweat the extra couple of dollars on the fill-up since it will get you a couple of extra miles.