The U.S. Department of Energy released a statement that concluded U.S. households spent an average of just over $2,900 on gasoline in 2012. That is the highest level in four years.

The numbers reached similar levels in 2008, when a red-hot global economy and panic over dwindling supplies sent gas prices through the roof. Before that, it was nearly three decades to see percentages of incomes spent on gas reach these levels.

Another report put out by the Oil Price Information service showed that Americans spent a record $479 billion in gasoline last year, up from $471 billion a year earlier. This is more than two and a half times what the nation's annual fuel bill was ten years earlier.

Even though Americans are spending more money and a bigger chunk of their budgets on fuel, overall, the Energy Department said that Americans are actually buying less gasoline than they have in the past.

That's because Americans are heading to the pumps less often as cars become more fuel efficient.

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