Darmouth, Nova Scotia: “Just wanted to hear how you may be doing things a little bit differently this year due to the rising price of gas; what ideas you may have to conserve fuel this year.
“We have cut out truck idling; if you’re not moving, shut it down. We are laying out our routes better to have less overlap and double back. Having the guys slow down and not rush so much so there are fewer callbacks.”
Jensen, Fla.: “Funny you should ask. “
1. Running straight vegetable oil in the trucks.
2. Growing algae to make oil.
3 Experimenting with ‘grassoline.’
4. Using solar power more.
5. Planning trips better.
6. Using fewer trucked materials or getting materials locally.
7. Riding a bike to do estimates (it has an electric motor).
8. Air the tires up to spec.
9. Composting instead of dumping.
10. Bringing the waste to the shop and using an electric chipper (60 hp).
11. E-mail to have a look at some things—‘I got this sick (piece of equipment), can you have a look?’ ‘Sure, just e-mail me a pic.’
12. Charcoal barbecue; no more propane!”
Phoenix, Ariz.: “Did you make any modifications to your trucks to run the vegetable oil? And, where are you getting yours? With temps near 100 daytime and mid-60s nighttime, I think I am about ready to give it a try. I have tried a few places, but have had no luck getting the vegetable oil here; they all seem to be under contract with a company.
“There is a local guy that sells it, I guess I need to find him. I saw his truck in January. But, I am not anxious to put heaters and such on my tanks, so I just decided to wait on the big heater to turn on.
“I am surprised that people are just now looking at tightening up their routes and trying to minimize trips, etc. That’s the easy money. Don’t leave it lying around no matter what the cost of fuel. I guess the high fuel costs do have a silver lining: it will make some people better managers.
“What’s that ‘grassoline’ all about? I bag every lawn. My father-in-law is also working with algae for oil, too. Tell us more.”
Jensen, Fla.: “[A] 1990 F350 without glow plugs. We cold start it on vegetable [oil]. We collect used, and we make some new out of algae. The algae can produce 30,000 gallons U.S. per acre per year. We grow ours on the roof of a warehouse (low rent) and no chemical fertilizers.
“Grassoline is just grass moonshine, that’s all, less than 1 percent water. We run a Dixie, saws, chipper, van and boat on grassoline. If you sell it, you need to pay taxes, but if you’re small and don’t sell any and no money changes hands, it’s free—yes, free. And, the best part, it is carbon neutral. All the northern guys will need a preheater for the oils.”
Phoenix, Ariz.: “OK, you’re skipping a few steps here. Do you have a link to how you do all this? I Googled grassoline and got a franchise biodiesel outfit. I did get a link to doing the WVO [waste vegetable oil], but they didn’t make it sound quite as simple. I have three diesels, all with less than 40K on them, I am just very cautious about doing anything that might damage my moneymaking machines.”
Richmond, Va.: Via an air dam and a bedcover I reduced the aerodynamic drag coefficient, thereby increasing fuel mileage by around 10 percent.
“Then, there’s always hypermiling and keeping up on the maintenance, that adds another 10 percent or so.”
Tulsa, Okla.: “Got rid of my most outlying accounts. Shut the engine off at lunchtime. Keep [the] truck well maintained (tire press, air filter, etc.) Other than that, not much.”
Tampa, Fla.: “Work harder.”
Jensen, Fla.: “Free fuel day—we just got 100 gallons of A-grade grease; 1,800 miles of free driving. Good luck at $8 per gallon.”
“In Your Own Words” is contributed from the lawn and landscape forum at www.lawnsite.com. Visit them, and join in the discussions.