Gas Prices Rising - Are We Ready for the Increase in Heating Costs Next Month

John M. Dabbs

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Not using as much fuel as we didJonathan Kemper/Unsplash

Tennessee's average gasoline prices jumped another six cents just since last week. Over the past year we have seen gas prices soar over $1.24 in the past year. They've gone up over twenty cents just since last month.

Analysts say gasoline prices continue to increase nation-wide mostly due to the high prices of crude oil. At least Tennessee is faring better than the national average. The national average for regular unleaded is $3.385 (compared to Tennessee's $3.161 average). Crude Oil prices are closing at over $80 a barrel. This is driving the costs of gas and other oil derived products skyward. The year isn't even over yet, and oil prices are still over $20.50 higher than the record highs in 2020. Gasoline, propane, and heating oil are all trending higher.

Prepare to open your wallets

Warnings from AAA are going out to all its members, preparing them for the impact on their home heating bills as the weather turns cold. The surge in oil prices is leading to worldwide surges in price. The American Midwest is forecast for increases of over 30% for heating oil and greater than 40% increases in natural gas prices.

Not everyone has the ability to shell out more money for higher utility bills. For most of us, the increased costs associated with commuting back and forth from work is seriously cutting into our disposable income. Even worse - that "disposable income" is what we use to feed our families.

With inflation at the gas-pumps going up just as high or higher than the costs at the grocery store, many are looking to cut expenses anywhere they can. While many people aren't at that point yet, they see the writing on the wall - and winter is about to come knocking in a few months.

The AAA has published fuel-saving tips on its website. You can find them here, at https://gasprices.aaa.com/news/fuel-saving-tips/.

Curtail expenses

We can watch our expenses and be more frugal as we spend. That doesn't necessarily mean cutting back - it means getting the most value for our purchases. Renovations may include a higher R-rating when we look at window insulation capabilities, or a higher R-value when buying insulation for new construction. We may even consider getting more insulation for our attics.

Sometimes we can't make those types of choices. We are sometimes forced to eat more beans, rice, pasta, and potatoes and less meats and already made meals. It is usually cheaper to make something from scratch than to buy it frozen or pre-made. Our priorities necessitate how far we are willing to go here.

In our home we are forced to hold onto our cell phones longer without upgrading, and putting off a few non-essential purchases. We prioritize holiday spending and what we set aside for improvements, or what we can get by without.

Maximize your purchase

To get the most bang for your buck, or most miles from your gallon of gas - don't forget to use the simple tips we know and usually put off longer than we care to admit:

  • Check our tires for proper inflation (the placard is usually inside the driver's door with this information).
  • Keep your car clean (inside and out)
  • Keep the oil and filter changed according to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations
  • Keep your air-filter cleaned or change it on a regular schedule (usually every 30-90 days)
  • Keep windows and doors closed and seal any gaps
  • Close the vents and doors to any rooms you do not routinely use - when you aren't in them
  • Keep your heat pump free of leaves or loose debris - maybe spray it off once in a while as needed.

Energy Costs in Tennessee

You may be asking yourself - "How do our costs compare with other areas in the state?" Tennessee is a mix that may wouldn't guess. Of course you'd expect the biggest cities and counties with the highest populations to have the highest rates. You'd be right, with both Davidson and Williamson County to have among the highest rates. Other counties in Tennessee with the highest rates (currently 3.351-3.194) include:

  • Haywood
  • Williamson
  • Davidson
  • Lincoln
  • Warren
  • Grundy
  • VanBuren
  • Overton
  • Clay
  • Pickett
  • Meigs
  • Polk
  • Anderson
  • Campbell
  • Jefferson
  • Grainger
  • Hancock
  • Washington
  • Johnson

(*only listed in order - roughly west to east, not in order of rate)

How can you help?

The easiest way is to simply take your time, manage your resources, and "take care of your stuff". Your car and home will take care of you and you will get the maximum return out of each if you care for them properly and use them as intended. That being said, there's nothing wrong with cutting back a little here and there either. Throw an extra blanket on the bed at night instead of keeping the thermostat at a balmy 70 degrees. You might find your snuggle-time increases with your significant other.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN
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