When the average household is looking at an additional $700 to sock away thanks to lower gas prices, some will consider that a Happy New Year. Schneider Electric's Matt Smith was the bearer of good news, saying on CNBC that Americans may save as much as $80 billion on refueling costs in 2015. That's the math when you figure an average of $2.60 gallon, which is higher than prices are today. Overall, it's "an excellent thing," Smith says.
Gas prices are averaging about $2.23 a gallon right now, according to AAA. That's down from $2.76 a month ago and represents a hefty 33 percent tumble from the $3.32 Americans were paying for a gallon of gas a year ago.
The good news is that the extra cash isn't likely to make people drive more. Last month, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that the already-low gas prices would have to fall as much as 50 percent more to get people to drive just one percent further than the already do. The impact of lower prices on driving is actually smaller than it was a few decades ago because we're more set in our driving habits today. Additionally, vehicle-miles-per-capita figures continue to fall as urban sprawl slows and more people use public transportation and other alternatives to move around.