Prices at the Pump

Flame Lit – Part V – A micro-blog series of energy definitions and quick facts to help improve energy literacy

photo by author

Prices at the Pump

This is a photo of a 20-Litre jerry can that I bought after our city was evacuated due to wildfire in 2016. It would cost about $30 to fill at today’s prices. That day we evacuated, people would have paid ANYTHING to fill up. Luckily, I don’t recall any horror stories of gouging!

So what impacts the price you pay at the pump anyway?

This article from the Canadian Fuels Association breaks out those components very well. According to them, crude oil prices contribute to 40% or more of the pump price and are subject to the whim of world oil supply and demand. Taxes account for about 35% – including 11 cents for the carbon tax (@$50/tonne). Refineries tack on another 20% and your local gas station tries to tries to squeeze out about 6-10 cent/litre.

Still, we all want to save. What is the best way?

Driving less is one of the simplest ways – car pooling, taking the bus, walking, biking – and some are healthier for us too. Yet, sometimes this isn’t easy. It’s can be hard to change our habits and routines – and some cities don’t have efficient transit or safe bike paths.

One option is to replace our vehicles on the next trade in with the smallest one that will still do the job. Our federal government’s handy tool will let us quickly compare fuel economy of different vehicles – gasoline engines, hybrids, and electric vehicles (EV’s). Here are some examples.

For a family that currently drives a Dodge Caravan about 20,000 km/year, the cost of gassing up will be $2320/year [or $193/month] if gas costs $1.00/litre. What can you save if you get a more efficient vehicle?

If you replace with the following vehicles or equivalent here’s an estimate:

Honda CR-V (Fuel efficiency of 7.8 L/100 km): Save $760/year [savings = $63/month]

Camry Hybrid (Fuel efficiency of 4.52 L/100 km): Save $1416/year [savings = $118/month]

Tesla S Electric (uses 20.51 kwHr/100 km): Save $1576/year [savings = $130/month]*

If gas prices stay up over a buck a litre, well, the savings would be even more.

For those who are serious about checking out EV’s, this article goes into more detail about pricing.

Understanding what impacts our gas prices, looking at healthy ways to move around, and considering a smaller vehicle can save money, stress at the pump, and a few emissions to boot!

Next up – Crude.

[*] Assumes a conservative electricity price of $16c/kwHR based on Alberta Historical Epcor Rates

[1] Gasoline Prices

[2] How Much CO2 Do Electric Hybrids, Gasoline Vehicles Emit?

[3] How Much Does it Really Cost To Charge That Electric Vehicle?

[4] Calculate your own annual gas costs: Caravan [11.6 L/100 km]* 20,000 km/yr*$1.00/litre = $2320/year. Input the fuel efficiency for your specific vehicle instead of 11.6 and calculate.

Alisa Caswell has a degree in chemical engineering. She spent twenty years working in the oil and gas industry, including roles in business development, operations, and energy conservation. You can follow her on  Facebook , LinkedIn, or Twitter