Save Money on Gas – Buy in Bulk
You can certainly save money on gas when you buy in bulk.
An opportunity to save money on gas is approaching very soon, as the price of gas typically drops in the winter. Long ago we used to see swings of 10 and 20 cents throughout the year. With much higher prices, the price swings are much greater, often as much as one dollar per gallon. One way to have lower fuel prices and a healthy backup supply of fuel is to buy in bulk. This option is usually only available to those of us who live in the country, nevertheless, it provides an opportunity that begs to be examined.
There is a price to be paid for everything, and buying fuel in bulk is no exception. Over several years, this approach to buying fuel can pay off nicely in terms of convenience and serious money saved.
Many years ago, the price of fuel was always lowest in February. I don’t find that true anymore, as January has been the month with the lowest fuel prices for at least 10 years now. So, with January roughly a month away, this is a good time to consider a bulk fuel purchase as a way to save on gas. Look for the price to bottom out somewhere between the middle to end of the month, at least that’s what my crystal ball is telling me.
Here are some costs to consider:
- Bulk fuel tanks and stands can be had at auctions for as little as $50, but usually they’ll sell for at least a couple hundred dollars. Expect to put in another $100 if you need to plumb the tank with new fittings, hose and filter.
- Tanks should be painted white to minimize solar gain and thereby reduce evaporative losses.
- A pressure/vacuum cap should be installed to replace the traditional cap that is always vented and thus always allowing fuel to evaporate. Add another $25 for this special cap.
- Be prepared to pay about ten cents more per gallon to have it delivered and installed in your tank.
- Using a fuel stabilizer is advisable if you’re going to keep it for years. It adds perhaps another $50 to the initial purchase price, but is advisable for long term storage. Otherwise, refueling each year should be sufficient to refresh the fuel that remains in your tank when that time comes around.
- The initial outlay for fuel will give you sticker shock. I bought 450 gallons of fuel at $2.77 about a year ago, so that cost about $1,250. That seems like a lot, but with nearly a dollar difference per gallon during the summer, and about 40 cents a gallon difference now, it saves me between $200 and $400 each year to cough up the money upfront instead of a little at a time at the gas pumps owned by others.
And, now for the benefits:
- You have your own gas station right there at the house. How convenient! Make sure your tank is located where it can be easily accessed by a fuel truck, and your vehicles and equipment, even when it’s surrounded by deep snow, as winter is when you’ll want to refill it.
- During the summer, you’ll enjoy fuel costs about one dollar less per gallon than what you can find at the pumps. When the cost differential between your gas and that of the local gas station isn’t all that significant, you can purchase your fuel like everyone else does, at the pump.
- If you use a generator for emergencies, you’ll never have to worry about having enough fuel to run it.
- Having fuel on hand makes for an excellent resource when it comes to bartering.
- The savings in fuel for even a single year can easily offset the cost of a bulk fuel storage tank, plumbing, cap, filter and hose. After that, it’s purely a game of save money on gas by staying ahead of the ever increasing cost of fuel.
- Fuel is gravity fed, so when electricity fails and no one can pump fuel, you can still get to yours.
Three other considerations are security, safety and usage. I don’t worry about someone taking fuel out of my bulk storage tank, but you might be. Both filler caps and fuel delivery valves come with features that allow for installation of a padlock. You probably would also like to have your tank within a portion of your property that’s gated and visible from within your house.
It’s also wise to invest a little money to properly ground your tank to minimize the potential for damage due to lightning strikes. Also, locate the tank a safe distance from the house should a fire break out. And, of course, have a fire extinguisher handy.
Lastly, if you use fuel for commuting or local travel, this will likely make more sense than if you’re a traveling salesperson and you need to fill up your tank around the country. Cheap fuel in your own backyard only makes sense if you spend a lot of time in your own backyard.
We all want to save money on gas, and buying fuel in bulk is just one way to do it. It’s not for everyone, but then what is? Much of what we do is a matter of personal choice. Although I’ve enjoyed hundreds of dollars of savings each year, and the ultimate in convenience, that might only be important to me and a handful of others. So be it.
Clair Schwan knows of many ways to save on gas, and bulk fuel purchases is only one of them. See his advice for how to save gas and lower transportation costs at Frugal Living Freedom, where the motto is, “Living well, and well within your means.”