The new gas tax is in effect. Here's how to use less fuel.
Gas taxes increased Monday, but many consumers were spared massive sticker shock on the first day of a state-mandated, 19-cent-per-gallon fuel hike.
An informal survey of prices across the six counties showed prices remained the same or even decreased despite Illinois' motor fuel price rising from 19 to 38 cents on a gallon of regular.
The average cost of a gallon of gas at stations surveyed by the Daily Herald in DuPage, Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties was $3.02 Friday before the tax was enacted. On Monday morning, the average was $2.97. In Cook County, the average price remained $3.17 on both days.
Across the suburbs, highs and lows included $3.39 a gallon in Highland Park and $2.66 in Marengo, according to GasBuddy Monday.
Were the low-key results because the gas gods smiled on lawmakers who approved the tax hike in June to fund a $33 million, six-year capital bill to pay for roads, bridges and transit?
As always with fuel markets, the answer's complicated and there are no sure bets.
For now, a robust supply of U.S. oil related to fracking and relatively low demand is cushioning the 19-cent blow, Argonne National Laboratory expert Don Hillebrand said.
When there's volatility, the U.S. has the capacity to start pumping. "We can naturally bring down prices by opening up other sources of oil," said Hillebrand, who is director of Argonne's Energy Systems Division.
Locally, Craig Grandt of Grandt's Auto Repair and Shell Service Station in Arlington Heights ordered fuel early Monday and "got lucky."
"When I bought my load this morning it was 10 cents cheaper than the last load, so I was able to leave my price at the same market price," Grandt said.
Why did he get a deal? Demand is low right now, which means oil supplies build up and sellers "lower prices to move that inventory."
Meanwhile, as fuel prices fluctuate, the desire to save money never changes. Here are some tips to use less gas.
• Don't be a lead foot -- accelerate gradually, AAA advises.
• Take your foot off the gas pedal while approaching red lights and stop signs.
• Don't warm up your car -- it's unnecessary.
• Avoid low tire pressure and have your air filter checked. Dirt in the filter and low tire pressure use more gas.
• Go the speed limit, for a change.
Finally, does cranking the air conditioner guzzle gas? Yes, but so does putting the windows down because it makes vehicles less aerodynamic.
"You've just done a trade-off," Grandt explained. "You've traded sweat for comfort."