Dan Bryant runs a Houston-area consulting company called Eco LLC, which teaches hyper-miling techniques to customers. When I talked to him on his office phone, he was waiting for Toyota representatives to show up for a consultation.
Bryant is a self-described eco-driving enthusiast. He says what he teaches is part engineering and part human behavior.
"You know the biggest aspect to this that I think so many people really overlook is that they're looking for so many quick fixes — fuel additives or a special type of tire that they can buy — that will nullify all their bad driving habits. But those are probably only about ten percent of your fuel efficiency profile. A large, large portion of your fuel-efficiency profile, easily 20-25 percent, will be the person sitting behind the wheel."
Bryant says slower, more consistent driving really is the key to hyper-miling. He says the best model is to drive like a school bus — just under the speed limit with gradual slow downs and speed ups.
"A lot of people just get caught up behind that issue that you have to go 80, you have to go 75, you have to go 90 in Houston in order to survive. But yet, they put their kids on a school bus and the school bus is going 65mph and they're okay with that."
Good driving behavior accounts for about a 20 percent fuel efficiency savings. Add another ten percent by making sure your vehicle is in tip top condition. Steve Flynn is Chevrolet Zone Manager for the Houston region. He says sales of fuel efficient vehicles are up as much as 40 percent in Houston, but even gas guzzlers can be made more efficient.
"If your tires are not properly inflated to the proper amount called for by every owner's manual, you can really see a significant loss in gas mileage there — up to three percent. Stuff in the trunk, whatever that might be, but that certainly takes away from the fuel mileage, as well. And then kind of just always ignoring what your vehicle is telling you — the lights that come on — all those sorts of things."
Other tips include going inside to order your coffee, instead of idling in the drive-through. Also keep your windows closed. The air conditioner typically uses less fuel than wind drag.