Cheaper gas fuels spending elsewhere

Published 9:57 am Thursday, February 12, 2015

NW0212 Lower Gas Prices D

Gas prices have increased a little after reaching the lowest prices seen in years a couple of weeks ago, but the price at the pump is still cheaper than has been seen in five years.

A survey by AAA showed gas prices are the lowest they have been since May 2009, which means motorists have been saving an average of $22 for a full tank of gas. With spring just around the corner, analysts expect gas prices to continue to rise.

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The area average for gas this week is $2.06 a gallon, according to the AAA. Last week the average was $2.04 a gallon and last month the average was $2.10. This a very noticeable decrease from the average price per gallon six months ago of $3.20 a gallon and $3.20 a gallon a year ago. The national average reached an all-time high of $3.70 a gallon last spring.

While the prices remain low, local motorists are taking advantage of the decrease to put their hard-earned dollars to use somewhere else.

Robert Campbell said his family is saving around $10 a week in fill-ups between his car and his wife’s.

“The lower prices definitely do help out,” Campbell said. “I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way. “

Campbell said he was using the extra cash to buy more groceries.

Jill Simerly agreed that filling up was much cheaper than it was this time last year. She said compared to last year when gas was at an all-time high she saves around $30 a fill-up. The extra money will come in handy with the extra expenses that come up each winter.

“Property taxes are coming due,” she said. “The cost of fuel for heating is a concern. That didn’t go down, and electric bills are always higher in the winter. The money helps in other ways.”

Cynthia Maiese said the lower gas prices allow her to bring her family to town more often.

“We live at the head of Stoney Creek, so when gas was so high, it was hard to come to town for just no reason,” Maiese said. “I can put more gas in the car. Before, $10 wouldn’t get you very much. Now I get almost three times more gallons for the same price. I can put more gas in and go farther.”

Keith Carr is saving a lot of money on gas for the large truck used for his construction company. He said he saves around $50 a tank in a truck that gets 10 miles per gallon.

“I just drive the same, and pump the money in the bank,” Carr said. “I was spending a lot. It was easy around $100 to $150 a week, and now it is down to $75. With this truck, I fill up around two times a week.”

Stephanie Burch said the lower gas prices were extra nice when she had to take her son to Kingsport for his dental appointments, and for her shorter commute to work each day.

“We have been able to save a lot,” Burch said. “We’ve been using it for groceries. Those prices need to come down next.”

Gas prices are still lower than last year but they are starting to climb again. Just recently, gas prices jumped around 10 cents almost overnight.

“Gas prices shot up last week, but are leveling off for now,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “Gasoline typically rises 30 to 50 cents in the spring. Even if that does happen, AAA does not expect prices to reach $3 this year.”