NEW YORK -- Drivers will get a slight break at the pump this summer, according to the latest forecast from the Energy Information Administration.
The agency's summer energy cost forecast estimates the average price for a gallon of regular gas will be about $3.63 a gallon, down from last year's average of $3.69 a gallon. More fuel efficient cars are expected to trim consumption by about 21,000 barrels a day, and help keep prices in check. So will increased North American oil production.
The summer driving season runs from April through September.
The most expensive driving season came in 2008, when the average price was $3.81. AAA reported the highest daily price on record -- $4.11 a gallon -- on July 17 that year.
Prices could even be cheaper next year, as the energy forecasts the full-year average price will fall to $3.39 a gallon in 2014 from its forecast of $3.56 for this year. The full-year price of $3.63 in 2012 was the highest annual average on record.
It won't all be good news for consumers this summer.
Higher prices for natural gas, sparked by an unusually cold March that drew down supplies, could lead to higher electric rates this summer. The national average for retail electric rates is forecast to be up about 3%, taking prices up to about 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
But the agency is also predicting a cooler summer, so consumers might get a break on the electric bill though the reduced use of air conditioning.