Why does gasoline cost more in the summer?
Have you noticed that gas prices always seem to rise just as the weather is getting nice and warm? It’s often rumored that these price hikes occur just because the big oil companies want to get richer, taking advantage of the fact that more drivers are on the road who are willing to pay any price to take their summer trips. While the higher gas prices are linked to the higher volume of people on the road, the real reason for the rise in price is a bit more positive.
So what then causes gasoline to cost more in the spring and summer than it does in the fall and winter? It’s quite simple really: it’s a different type of fuel.
Gas stations carry a different kind of gas in the summer!
For some reason, very few drivers know that gas stations carry a different kind of gasoline in the summer than they do in the winter. Each spring, gas stations shift from selling winter-grade fuel to summer-grade fuel, and this is what sparks the hike in price, as summer-grade fuel is more expensive to produce. This shift is known as the seasonal gasoline transition, and it does have a very important purpose.
Summer-grade fuel is better for the environment.
The reason for this seasonal gasoline transition is to better protect our environment! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started the Reformulated Gasoline Program (RFG), and in 1995 this program started requiring gas stations to carry the summer-grade fuel in order to reduce pollution and smog output during the summer ozone season when more cars are on the road.
The summer-grade fuel is more environmentally friendly. It burns cleaner by using a different blend of oxygenates, or fuel additives, which help our vehicles produce less smog. Releasing fewer toxic air pollutants is always a good thing! Unfortunately, this summer-grade fuel is more expensive to produce, and oil refineries have to shut down production each year while they make the switch from winter to summer, which drives gas prices up.
So even though it is annoying to shell out more money at the pump in the summertime, you can at least feel good about the fact that the gasoline you are buying is better for our air quality, ozone and environment. After all, what fun would it be to be outside on a beautiful summer day if you couldn’t enjoy clean, fresh air?