MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — The yearly national average price of gas is projected to be nearly 50 cents cheaper in 2023 than in 2022, according to data from GasBuddy. GasBuddy’s 2023 Fuel Outlook predicted the average price per gallon nationwide in the new year will be $3.49.

“The average household is going to be spending about $277 less on gasoline in 2023 than 2022,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. Although the average price per gallon is expected to decline, experts predict it may not be smooth sailing at the pump over the next 12 months.

According to GasBuddy, seasonal demand is expected to keep prices low early in the new year, but the national average could rack up to $4 a gallon by May, peaking at $4.17 in June. “That’s when we start to see Americans getting outside more — demand for gasoline starts to accelerate,” De Haan said. The rollercoaster ride will likely continue into the fall, as De Haan predicts prices will drop yet again after Labor Day. “2023 is not going to be a cakewalk for motorists. It could be expensive,” De Haan said.

Experts said improvements in refinery capacity are contributing to the lower prices, but GasBuddy still points to “continuing economic concerns” and Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine for “high levels of uncertainty.” “I don’t think we’ve ever seen such an amount of volatility as we saw this year, and that will be a trend that likely continues to lead to wider uncertainty over fuel prices going into 2023,” De Haan said.

In total, Americans will spend an estimated $470.8 billion on gas in 2023 — that’s $55 billion less than in 2022, according to GasBuddy. Diesel prices are forecast to average $4.12 in 2023, beginning the year at their highest level and rebounding as high as $4.30 per gallon in June, GasBuddy said.