Disposing of used vegetable oil has always been a problem for restaurants. In recent years it has gotten easier with the increasing demand for biodiesel. Now many restaurants depend on free pickup services by biodiesel companies as a convenient and cheap way to dispose of their waste fryer oil. Some even pay to have the stuff hauled away.
But what if you could take that oil and use it to save money, instead of just giving it away? Enter Vegawatt power system that uses vegetable oil to generate electricity and pre-heat water going to your water heater. It’s a self-contained unit that doesn’t require any special skills. You pretty much just add oil and clean it out once in a while.
The savings on your restaurant’s electricity and hot water bills can be significant. Vegawatt says the unit can save your business about $800 a month in electricity bills, although that does include a $100 per month renewable energy rebate from local government, which may or may not exist in your area. Smaller operators probably don’t generate enough oil to take advantage of the Vegawatt power system, and the company recommends the machine for establishments that have 3 – 5 deep fryers and generate at least 50 gallons of waste oil a week. If you do generate that much oil, however, you can realize a return on investment in 2 – 3 years.
Your used vegetable oil is now worth a lot more to you if you keep over giving it or selling it to a biodiesel company or paying to dispose of it. It’s pretty amazing what a little ingenuity can do for a lifelong problem in the restaurant business. Of course, there is some up-front investment required here, something that doesn’t sound very appealing, especially in a tight economy. Vegawatt does offer a leasing program as well, and you’ll be saving more than the cost of the monthly lease.