Skyrocketing gas prices across the U.S. have motorists wondering how much higher they could go. As we can all clearly see, small increases of 3-cents here and a nickel there add up quickly. In the last year, gas prices have jumped from $2.50 to 2.75 per gallon to upwards of $5 in some areas.

So, in no particular order, here are FIVE easy ways you can pay less, or use less gasoline, starting today:

Pay Cash or Become a Member

Several gas stations in New York offer discounted gas to customers who are 'members' or those who pay with cash. In many cases, the discount is usually about ten cents a gallon or better.

For instance, the Fastrac chain of gas stations offers a membership card. At last check, it cost you $20 up front, but then you'd save 8-10 cents a gallon on every gallon you purchased from there. And, if you're a member at a place like BJ's Wholesale, the savings-per-gallon can be even more than a dime.

Another example is Byrne Dairy convenience store/gas stations. They have a posted price and a member price. But, they don't sell memberships. Rather, the discounted rate (of .10 cents on each gallon) is available to customers who pay cash for gas.

What 'Mode' Are You Driving

This option isn't available for all cars and trucks, but it's worth checking your vehicle's dash to see if you have 'Eco' mode. Many drivers actually have this option available to them (along with other options like sport mode, off-road mode, or four-wheel drive) and don't even know it. Switching over to 'Eco' mode in my personal vehicle slightly reduces engine power, acceleration, etc. Admittedly, this type of feature saves you the most when you're on a highway, but as the saying goes: 'A penny saved is a penny earned.'

Warming up your car in the morning is costing you!

Living in upstate New York, I sympathize with those who say they don't want to give it up. It's a convenience, especially on cold winter mornings, to simply push a button to start so your vehicle it's nice and toasty warm when you get outside. But it's costing you money - you're literally burning gas while your engine idles.

Drive the Speed Limit

The fast you drive, the more gas you use. It's that simple.

So, if you're on a 30-mph road, you're burning more gas by going 38-mph than you would by going 30. The same is true on highways. The NYS Thruway speed limit is 65, but if you're like me you tend to push it to about 70 or a little higher. But, if you're like me, you're also using more gas to cover the same distance than the guy we just passed who was doing the speed limit.

And just remember, all the money you'll save by not getting a speeding ticket can be applied directly to your gas tank!

That Light Came On For A Reason

Sometimes you have to spend a little to save a little. That applies here. Staying on top of your vehicle's maintenance will not only extend the engine life - another money saver - it will also improve efficiency, meaning less gas usage.

We're talking things like staying on top of oil changes, routine maintenance - replacing spark plugs and, filters, etc. Also, proper tire pressure. For every 5-psi your tires are off, you use about 1% more gasoline. I know, that's not a lot, but several small changes or improvements can go a long way.

Bonus: I added one extra for those of you who took the time to read all the way through.

This one won't save you money today, but it could save you some money soon. With spring then summer coming, you can save a bit by not running your vehicle's air conditioner. Again, understand you're trading a little convenience for better mpg.

Your A/C runs off the alternator, which runs off the engine, which runs on gasoline. In other words, your car/truck runs less efficiently, and therefore burns more gas when you turn on the air conditioner.

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