NEW YORK -- Drivers will see the lowest summer gasoline prices in about 6 years, according to the Energy Department.
The national average price is forecast to fall 32 percent from a year ago to $2.45 a gallon between April and September, the period when Americans do most of their driving. That would mark the lowest seasonal average since 2009.
For the year, the department's Energy Information Administration expects gasoline to average $2.40 a gallon, down from $3.36 a year prior.
The lower prices are a result of world oil supplies growing faster than demand because of higher production in North America and elsewhere. That dynamic has been depressing the price of crude oil. But, the Energy Department warned that the forecast could substantially change if oil-related sanctions against Iran are lifted as part of ongoing negotiations. That country is believed to hold at least 30 million gallons of oil in storage.
The price of Brent crude, a benchmark used to price oil used by many U. S. refineries and the most important factor in gasoline prices, is forecast to fall 40 percent this year.
U.S. drivers are expected to consume slightly more gasoline, a 1.6 percent increase, during the summer. But gasoline expenditures by household are expected to be the lowest since 2004, according to the EIA, with people spending about $700 less on gasoline in 2015.
The average price of gasoline in the U.S. was $2.38 a gallon Tuesday, down 33 percent from last year, according to AAA and GasBuddy.com.
Here are some tips to get more mileage out of the gas you buy.
- Stay Cool: The air conditioner wastes gas, but so can keeping the windows down. In hot weather, the Energy Department recommends keeping windows open when driving at lower speeds and the air conditioner on low when driving faster.
- Price Check: Smartphone apps such as Waze, Gas Guru and GasBuddy can find the gas stations near you with the lowest prices.
- Don't Speed: Every 5 mph that you drive over 50 is equivalent to paying an additional 17 cents a gallon for gas, according to the Energy Department.
- Keep Your Tires Inflated: When tires don't have enough air, it forces the vehicle to use more energy to move. Tires that are properly inflated also last longer.
- Keep It Light: Don't leave heavy items you don't need in the trunk. Additional weight is a gas sucker, especially for smaller cars. And keep cargo or containers you don't need off the roof. Carrying stuff up there makes a car use more energy to overcome the air drag.
- Turn It Off: When you're parked and sitting in the car, turn the engine off.