If your energy expenses seem totally out of control, you may be understandably tempted to look for alternatives to your municipal power company and the teeter-totter of automotive fuel prices. Your conscience may also be nagging at you to do the right thing for the environment by practicing more sustainable habits. The good news is that those options are indeed out there, and you just might be able to take advantage of them. Here are three possible approaches to taking your life “off the grid.”
1. Get Free Energy from the Sun
Solar energy costs nothing once you’re willing to put up the money for solar panel installation on your roof — and the federal government allows you to deduct 30 percent of that investment in the form of an income tax credit. A typical rooftop solar panel can generate up to 240 watts of power, substantially reducing your daily reliance on the city’s electrical grid. Solar shingles are another, arguably more discreet-looking option, but the fact that they sit directly directly on the roof (without the gap created by a solar panel’s framework) can transfer some heat energy into your attic, possibly requiring you to beef up your insulation. Additionally, they can’t be tilted to catch the moving sun as solar panels can. But either option could help you lower your monthly electric bills.
What about your electronics? Much of the electricity consumed in this day and age powers or recharges laptops, tablets, mobile phones, music players and other devices. These little gadgets don’t require that much electricity individually, but collectively and over time the wattage expenses can add up. Solar panels can save the day here as well, not only through a rooftop solar panel installation but also through small portable solar charger kits. Take these kits with you when you travel, or simply place them in a sunny part of the house and plug devices into them as needed.
2. Harness the Wind
Living in a windy part of the world can be an inconvenience — but not when you’re trying to minimize your dependence on city utilities. That’s because in many areas it’s perfectly legal to set up propeller-driven wind turbine systems. These tall towers turn wind power into electric power by using it to push the propeller blades, which in turn activates the turbine. The resulting electricity goes to a battery for on-demand distribution throughout the home.
The cost of such a setup depends on how much power you want to obtain from it. A “whole-house” system might cost $30,000 — but if you’re already using solar power and just want an extra boost from the wind, a small turbine would only cost a small fraction of that figure. In any case, government rebate programs to offset that initial investment are available for wind power just as they are for solar power. In fact, a solar/wind combination could be an ideal way to go off the grid completely; otherwise, you might need to supplement your wind power with a feed from the city’s power lines on windless days.
3. Run Your Diesel Car on Cooking Oil
Automotive fuel is another ongoing expense that can hold your monthly household budget hostage unless you buy an all-electric vehicle (or at least a hybrid). But if you have an old diesel-powered vehicle that you’d prefer to keep driving, and you happen to live near a friendly restauranteur, you may be able to fuel that vehicle for next to nothing on discarded cooking oil. You’ll need to install a conversion kit to make this possible, but it will pay for itself as long as you’re getting your fuel either free of charge or for a nominal fee from restaurants. You’re not limited to your neighborhood burger stand either — many restaurants all over the country are happy to get rid of their waste oil in this manner.
Cooking oil comes with cons as well as pros. For one thing, you have to filter out all the debris in the oil before feeding the oil into your car. Since the higher viscosity of cooking oil requires that it be heated up, you may also have also to run the car on regular diesel for several minutes before switching over to your cooking-oil tank. Some states don’t even allow this alternative fueling method. But if you manage it, you’ll be mostly freeing yourself from fossil fuels (and the costs associated with them) without having to buy a whole new car.
From solar panel installation to “grease power,” you may have more energy options than you ever realized. Talk to your local solar, wind and automotive service providers to find out if an off-grid existence lies in your future!
Over time, many dumpsters develop a thick, smelly black goo on the bottom of their interior. If you own a restaurant, you carry even a bigger risk of developing this gross slime on the bottom of your dumpster, simply because of all the food and liquid you are likely throwing out.
Want to get rid of the black slime and the gross odors once and for all? Then, take a look at these essential tips:
1. Use heavy-duty garbage bags with flat or star seals.
The garbage bags you use have a direct impact on the slime that builds up in your dumpster. The slime is a mixture of food and liquids. It congeals together and sticks to the bottom and sides of the dumpster, and in some cases, depending on what’s in the slime, you may even find mold growing on it.
If you want to get rid of the slime, you need to eliminate the food and drinks that get into your dumpster. Heavy duty bags are critical to this process. They feature rip-resistant material, reducing the chances that the bags will rip from being too full and leak their contents into the dumpster. Ideally, you want to choose bags made with linear low density polyethylene because they stretch and resist rips.
In addition, when choosing garbage bags, pay attention to the way the plastic is sealed at the base of each bag. To prevent leaks, you want to avoid bags with gusset seals and instead opt for flat or star seals. Flat seals are like the closed edge of a pillow case — two pieces are sealed together with a straight seam. Also called x-seals, star seals, in contrast, gather all the plastic at the base of the bag in a single spot, and the bag is sealed at that point. The gathers create a star-like shape.
2. Scrape plates into a slop sink with a garbage disposal.
In addition to using better bags, also reduce the amount of food you throw into the trash. Instead of having your staff scrape leftovers into the garbage can, have them scrape plates into a slop sink. This sink should have a garbage disposal so that you can run all the food down it without clogging your pipes.
Alternatively, you may use other approaches to reduce the amount of food you throw out. For example, you could reduce portion sizes or start composting scraps for a local farmer.
3. Mask smells to deter pests.
As a restaurant owner, you are going to end up throwing away some food scraps, regardless of how many steps you take to reduce food waste. Even if it’s just small remnants, the odors from this food tend to draw in pests such as raccoons and rats. Unfortunately, these critters can easily rip through most heavy-duty garbage bags. As a result, food and liquid will spill out of the bags, and ultimately, that will lead to more goo and slime on the bottom of your dumpster.
To prevent this, sprinkle deodorizer in your dumpster. Dumpster deodorizer has special bacteria in it that breaks down the grease and food in your dumpster so that it doesn’t emit odors. In addition, you may want to use garbage bags that have odor fighting elements such as Microban in them.
Keep in mind that deodorizer is one of the most effective ways to deter pests from dumpsters, but you should take additional steps such as locking the lid of your dumpster as well if possible.
If you want to eliminate the black slime from your dumpster permanently, contact a company that provides dumpster service, like Tri-State Disposal. They can provide you with more tips and ideas.
Whether you’re tackling a spring cleaning project or taking on a larger chore, such as replacing your roof, chances are you’ll need to rent a dumpster. This might seem like a straightforward task, but in reality, there are a lot of factors to consider. Don’t get stuck with a dumpster that isn’t right for your project and instead, here are a few simple tips to help ensure you rent a dumpster that will fit your needs and budget:
The sizes offered by your local waste management companies might differ, but in general dumpsters come in the following sizes:
10 Yard – The smallest dumpster available through many companies, the 10 to 12 yard dumpster, will accommodate about 2 tons of waste and is ideal for cleaning up your yard, attic or basement.
15 Yard – A typical 15 yard dumpster will hold about 3 tons of debris and is a good option if you are replacing a smaller roof or if you have a two car garage you want to clean out.
20 Yard – Typically, a 20 yard dumpster will hold about 4 tons of waste. You should consider this larger dumpster if you are renovating your home, cleaning out multiple rooms in your home or are tearing off a single layer of roofing shingles.
30 Yard – If you’re renovating your home, a 30 yard dumpster is probably the best option. A typical 30 yard dumpster will hold approximately 5 tons of waste.
40 Yard – Typically, a 40 yard dumpster is the largest option available to you. If you have a major renovation, such as an addition or if you’re building a new garage, this is probably the best option.
If you’re not sure which dumpster is the best option, consider visiting your local waste management provider and simply ask. Sometimes, actually seeing the dumpster in person can give you a better sense of which size will accommodate your project.
Where Will It Go?
Another aspect of renting a dumpster that many homeowners overlook is exactly where you’ll place the unit. Even if you’re renting the smallest dumpster available, the waste management associate dropping it off will need plenty of room to unload it from the truck.
In addition, the weight of the full dumpster can also cause damage to your yard or driveway. Unfortunately, you will be personally liable for this damage, so keep this in mind when deciding where you want the dumpster dropped off.
Watch What You Toss Into the Dumpster
From that load of cardboard boxes from your last move to that old couch that is taking up space in the garage, there are many items that you can toss into your dumpster. However, there are quite a few things that should never be thrown into your dumpster. According to Angie’s List, these include batteries, electronics and old paint.
In addition, it’s never acceptable to dispose of pesticides, automotive fuels and leftover household cleaners in the dumpster.
Not only is it unsafe for the environment to toss these items into the dumpster, if you’re caught, you could be fined by the waste management company. This is only a short list of items that are acceptable to throw into a dumpster – and depending on where you live, the restrictions could be even more strict. Contact your local waste management provider for a complete list of restricted items.
From determining which size meets your needs to making sure you don’t toss out anything you shouldn’t, finding the right dumpster for your project can be tricky. If you’re completely lost, or don’t want to spend more money than you should, don’t hesitate to ask your local waste management company for some help! Click here for info on waste management.