The Difference Between Summer and Winter Fuel Blends

Every fall, convenient stores convert from a summer fuel blend to a winter fuel blend. While the switch over from the summer fuel blends may mean lower prices at the pump for consumers, what does it all really mean? What is the real difference between summer fuel vs. winter fuel blends? Further, what impact does it have on the environment? Lastly, What does this switch over entail for the c-store owner?

What is the main difference between summer and winter fuel blends?

One of the ways gasoline is classified is it’s Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). RVP measures how easily the fuel evaporates at given temperatures. The higher the RVP, the easier it vaporizes.

Winter-blend fuel has a higher RVP to allow the fuel the ability to evaporate at lower temperatures. Thus, permitting proper operation of your car’s engine when it is cold. If the RVP is too low, your car would have a tough time starting, especially on frigid days.

Consequently, summer-blend fuel has a lower RVP. This prevents excessive natural evaporation as temperatures rise. Further, reducing the volatility of summer gas prevents engine problems such as vapor lock.

How does switching fuel blends according to seasons help the environment?

The primary reason for the seasonal fuel blend switch is an effort to control volatile organic compounds (VOC). The more volatile a fuel is, the easier it evaporates in the heat. Therefore, during the summer heat, the RVP of gas must be low to keep it from boiling off.

Additionally, the EPA mandates an RVP maximum of anywhere between 9.0 PSI and 7.8 PSI for summer-grade fuel, depending on the region. For example, due to the varying climates in different areas of the country, states, even some cities have their own rules regulating fuel RVP levels.

Simply put, more VOCs create more smog, especially in warmer months. Higher heat in the atmosphere increases the tendency for atmospheric ozone. Hence, additional VOCs increases the intensity of smog and air pollution.

How does the fuel blend switch affect the consumer?

The difference basically boils down to cost. The lower the RVP rating of a blend, the more it costs. That’s why gas is more expensive in the summer. In conjunction, increased summer travel impacts demand, and may also drive prices up.

So, consider this: increased summer travel means more cars on the road. Increased heat makes gas more volatile. Therefore, while the summer fuel blend may cost more, it helps your vehicle perform better and helps keep the air cleaner.

What does the fuel blend switch over entail for C-Store owners?

While it may seem as simple as merely switching fuels, it is vital to make sure that the underground tanks are ready for winter. Therefore, the fall fuel conversion is the perfect time for c-stores to service tanks. That way, you will ensure seamless service for your customers all winter long. Another good reason is that you may already be dealing with Bio with out knowing. Fuel can contain up to 5% bio with out being classified as such.

This is when Clean Fuels Associates can help. We are experts at maintaining underground fuel tanks. We understand the difference between summer and winter fuel blends. And, we can ensure your fuel is clean and in its best condition all year long. Check out our services for c-store owners. You will be impressed with the results and the positive effect on your business and profits. Contact us today to learn more!