“Solar for Oil” Barter: It’s very Cool

by Scott Underwood

Short on cash? Wouldn’t you like to find a way to reduce your utility bills, decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil, and do a favor to the environment by decreasing your use of fossil fuels? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should be interested in what the Mother Lode River Center has been up to recently in nearby Cool, California.

The basic idea is simple. First, we construct a homemade “box” hot water heater from a sheet of plywood, an old retired propane water heater, a cast off shower door and some fittings from the hardware store. We plumb it all together with simple hand tools using plans available for free on the Internet. We then install it as a “pre-heater” to feed into the existing water heater at one of our favorite restaurants in nearby Cool, Ca.  This reduces the restaurant’s use of propane to heat water by 70%. Since over 33% of the energy consumed by an average household is to heat water, this cost savings and major reduction in carbon footprint is available to you too. I hope you agree that we have closed a Cool deal.  But hey, it gets better!

This restaurant uses vegetable oil to fry its food and normally pays to get it hauled off. We then barter the hot water heater for the restaurant’s waste vegetable oil (WVO).  Barter is “the exchange of goods or services without money” and is definitely a good thing because it keeps trade close to home.  Mother Lode is one of the few companies in California that runs its diesel vehicles on 100% WVO. This has several advantages. First, it produces 80% less carbon dioxide than conventional fossil fuel diesel and therefore vastly reduces our carbon footprint. Second, using WVO also reduces the particulates (the greatest disadvantage of diesel engines) by 45% and hydrocarbons by a comparable amount. Amazingly, it also reduces carcinogens by 90%. Bottom line, it is one of the cleanest and ecologically responsible fuels on planet Earth.

That’s it, “Solar for Oil”! We have created Green Collar employment for our staff, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and spared the planet’s ecosystems, helped reduce the concentration of chemicals in the air that cause asthma and cancer, and refused to ride with Osama Bin Laden. Do you support this idea? Write us a note and let us know what you think.

Mother Lode's 100% WVO Fleet

Many thanks to Alan Carrozza for his inspiration and great idea, Greg Hawkins for his construction skills, Ray and Lorrie for their patience and Emily for her photos.

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