Gasoline prices have soared almost 17 cents in the past week, including a 6-cent jump on Friday, to a national average of $3.33 a gallon, according to the motorist group AAA. That's the highest national average in more than three years, and it's not over yet. Thanks to the recent unrest in Libya and the Mideast, CNN Money reports that analysts expect another 37-cents-per-gallon increase in the next few weeks.
So what can you do to save a few pennies at the pump? Many people are turning to GasBuddy.com
, a free Web site (and accompanying mobile app) that helps consumers find the lowest gas prices in their area.
Here's how it works: go to GasBuddy and enter your ZIP code. You'll get a list of all of the gas stations in your area and what they are charging for regular, midgrade, premium and diesel fuels. You can also see the trends for your area for the last week, month and year.
The numbers are collected by GasBuddy's local volunteers
, who spot local gas prices and report them to the site. Volunteers earn points for each gas price they upload, and are also entered into GasBuddy's weekly $250 gas card giveaway.
In my neck of the woods, GasBuddy is reporting a 19-cent difference between the two gas stations in my neighborhood. If I use that information before fueling up my car today, I could save several dollars.
The Web site and the mobile app
(which are available for iPhones, Android and Windows phones) are free.
Looking for other ways to reduce your gasoline costs? MNN's Russell McLendon has 10 gas-saving tips here
Will gas prices stay this high? It's impossible to predict. Last week, lawmakers urged President Barack Obama to consider tapping America's emergency oil supply as a way to help lower crude prices (which are currently more than $100 a barrel). Meanwhile, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is urging the country to reduce its dependency on all fossil fuels, saying every $10 rise in crude oil prices will add $300 million to the Navy's annual fuel costs.