summer temperatures rise in Orange County, you pay more at the pump for
your gas, according to the California Energy Commission.
Gas flows out of the typical pump in Orange County at 75 degrees in
July and 80 degrees in August and September, a survey for the Energy
Commission reports. But the pumps measure the fuel at 60 degrees, which
means we’re getting less for our money.
“We know gasoline expands when it’s hotter,” said Susanne Garfield, spokeswoman for the commission. “This isn’t a news flash.”
Gas expands by 1 percent for every 15-degree rise in temperature,
which means Orange County gas users are paying 1 percent extra for each
gallon of gas during the hottest months of the year. That adds 4 to 5
cents per gallon at today’s prices.
The energy commission is considering whether to adjust the base
temperature to around 72 degrees and require fuel pumps to add
measurement devices that adjust to gas temperatures. A recommendation
is due in September.
Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based advocacy group, says the
energy commission’s findings show there should be no delay in changing
the state’s methods for measuring gas.
“California has confirmed that fuel is routinely sold at
temperatures high enough to short-change motorists year-round, and the
same is true across the southern and southwest U.S,” said Judy Dugan,
research director for Consumer Watchdog. “The weights and measures
officials who should have fixed this years ago refuse to take their
responsibility to consumers seriously. It’s time for lawmakers to step
in and end this ripoff.”
Truckers are also upset about the high cost of hot gas. Diesel
temperatures are even more volatile than gasoline, because many
stations store diesel fuel in above-ground tanks.
“For many of our drivers, paying extra for hot fuel is the last
straw, especially at today’s prices,” said John Siebert, hot fuel
project team leader at Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association,
a Missouri-based association of truck drivers. “When you’re paying
through the nose, you want to at least get what you paid for.”
The Energy Commission is not sure changing the measurement would
really save consumers and gas sellers money. The new equipment would
cost $12,000 to $17,000 per filling station, Garfield said, “and the
station owners probably want to recover their costs” which means they’d
pass raise the cost at the pump.
Here’s the average temperature of fuel in several Southern California
|Los Angeles (Regular)||64||70.2||81.6||83.6||82||72.6|
|San Bernardino (Regular)||58.7||68.8||85.4||86||83.1||74.5|
|San Diego (Regular)||62.6||70.7||77.6||81.3||79.6||72.3|
Source: Division of Measurement Standards, California Department of Food and Agriculture.
This survey collected the temperatures of gasoline
and diesel at various locations throughout California for one year,
from April 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008. County officials sampled fuel
temperatures of 87 and 91 octane gasoline, and diesel fuel, where
available, at approximately 20 percent of the service stations in their
To see the complete data on fuel temperatures, CLICK HERE.
Why do the temperatures vary?
The biggest factor is the temperature of fuel when it’s loaded into
delivery trucks, which are not insulated, Garfield said. Once it’s
underground, she said, “It’s like a thermos. The temperature doesn’t
One more thing: It doesn’t matter what time of day you buy your gas.
The temperature is not significantly different in the cool morning or
“That’s an urban myth,” Garfield said.
The best way to save money on fuel, Garfield said, is by driving
conservatively and maintaining your vehicle: Slow to 55 mph on the
freeway, avoid jack-rabbit starts and stops, and keep your tires