Why Are Gas Prices Higher in the Summer?

The temperature is not the only thing on the rise here in Raleigh, NC; gas prices have been increasing significantly as well. It’s unfortunate because we are about to get into that beautiful beach weather, and are ready to burn some extra fuel on summer road trips.

Unfortunately, it looks like these higher gas prices are here to stay for a bit – but why is this? Why do gas prices increase in the summer so significantly each year?

Summer Gas Price

3 Reasons Why Gas Prices Are Higher in the Summer

There are several secondary factors that cause fuel to be more expensive in the summer versus the winter:


People are traveling more so there is a higher demand.


Energy companies conduct maintenance on their refineries that limit their production until late May.


More hurricanes and other natural disasters occur that can slow fuel production.

But the main reason summer gas is more expensive?

Gas stations carry a different kind of gasoline in the summer!

Many people do not realize this, but in the United States the type of gasoline sold in the summer is a different type of gasoline than is sold in the winter. Each year there is a shift sometime in the spring months from selling the winter-grade fuel to summer-grade fuel, and this is when drivers experience the upward shift in gas price too.

Seasonal Gasoline Transition

What’s the difference between summer-grade and winter-grade fuel?

This shift is known as the seasonal gasoline transition, and it started in 1995 as part of the Reformulated Gasoline Program (RFG). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started the RFG program in order to reduce pollution and smog output during the summer ozone season.

The summer-grade fuel burns cleaner than the winter-grade by using a different blend of oxygenates, or fuel additives. This helps our cars produce less smog and fewer toxic air pollutants while using summer fuel!

The price increase comes because it is more expensive to produce this cleaner, summer-grade gas, and because oil refineries have to stop production for some time in order to switch to producing this summer gas, meaning supply is lower.

Protecting Our Air Quality During the Summer

So even though it is annoying to spend more money on gas in the summer, maybe it will give you a little peace of mind knowing that there is a positive reason behind the price hike: protecting our air quality and ozone during the summer while more people are on the road. After all, what good is enjoying the beautiful beach if you can’t breathe in the fresh air?


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