Waste Oil Heating is Saving Auto Repair Shops in the US Millions of Dollars

If the mid-December 2020 nor’easter is anything to go by, the US is headed for a harsh winter. For automotive repair shops around the country, that likely means increased heating bills. With many businesses already reeling from a pandemic sales slump, soaring energy prices become another stress. However, there is a solution that can not only slash heating bills but also add thousands of dollars to the bottom line of auto and truck repair shops: waste oil heaters.

Barry Brandt, a Leading Member of UOMA (Used Oil Management Association) and Chief Executive Officer at Rock Energy Systems, LLC agrees. “Waste oil represents access to recycled fuel for heat that offsets other virgin fuel. Two big benefits: cost savings and beneficial recycling of waste.’

Used motor oil is an inescapable by-product of the transportation and automotive industry. As it accumulates, proper collection and disposal of waste oil can become an expense and a liability. Yet, used motor oil contains valuable energy that can be recycled on-site to produce heat energy and keep an automotive facility warm in winter.

“There are only a few options on what to do with the by-products of running internal combustion engines. Re-refining has largely failed at capturing much of the waste stream. Recycling on-site for heat is the best solution, economically and environmentally, “ says Denny Wandtke, Owner of Black Gold Environmental.

One of the Midwest’s leading distributors of waste-oil heaters has calculated that his equipment alone has cut his customers’ heating bills by $200 million dollars over the years. They have also recycled 150 million gallons of waste oil for heat energy that didn’t go to a landfill or a river or a lake.

Robert Benoit with Anchor Auto Group in North Smithfield, RI, backs up the cost savings of waste oil heaters. ‘I bought my first Clean Burn 15 years ago, since then I’ve purchased two additional furnaces and two boiler systems serving my two dealerships. Presently 100% of both building’s, service & showroom areas are waste oil heated. Not only do I love them, my customers appreciate our recycling policies and the savings that get passed on to them. I save over $40,000 annually in heating costs, and with only annual servicing we’ve had many hears for trouble free service from our furnaces. Clean Burn has quickly become one of the smartest business decisions we’ve made.’

Not only do waste-oil heaters provide significant cost savings for auto repair shops, but the heat they generate provides for a warm, comfortable atmosphere for employees. Jeff Leisenring of HM Miller Construction Company in Mogadore, Ohio says, ‘We are heating a 6,800 square foot area that is not insulated well at all. [Our Lanair] Model MX-200 heater keeps the area at a steady 70 degrees and does not even have to run that much.’

John Lux of Green Bay WI adds, ‘I purchased an EnergyLogic-200 furnace last year in November. I have a 5000 sq ft shop, and it heats the whole shop perfectly. Very nice unit for the money. Easy to install. Easy to clean. This has truly been a worthwhile investment for my company.’

Technological advances have made today’s waste oil heaters more efficient, more dependable, safer to use, and easier to service. ‘[Waste-oil heaters] have a bad rep based on products that are long gone. Newer-technology used-oil heaters burn just like other heaters. Modern waste-oil heaters are built to minimize by-products and are easy to maintain,’ says Brandt.

Dave Quarltere of Dave’s Autoworld in Montour Falls NY also agrees, ‘[Our EnergyLogic Boiler Model 200] has easily been one of the most trouble-free units we have ever had. Over the last three winters, we have had to do no more than regular maintenance: fuel and air filters.’

Wandtke adds, ‘With newer technology and the right system design for your facility, managing and recycling used oil can be an easy process.’

Waste oil heaters purchased from a UOMA member are UL and CSA certified for their performance and reliability. ‘[UOMA Member waste oil heaters] are specialized to burn recycled fuel with extra processes to improve the safety and efficiency and are sized to accommodate ash build-up, without clogging.’ says Brandt.

Waste-oil heaters can also add to the bottom line by ending cradle-to-grave liability and being a tax deduction. Currently, the liability for proper disposal of used oil extends from the moment the oil drains into a pan until it’s processed or burned. However, when used oil is recycled on-site for energy recovery, an auto repair shop can all but eliminate that liability. Additionally, under Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code, waste oil heaters are tax-deductible in the year of purchase.

Robbie from Joe’s Tractor Sales in Thomasville, NC put in a waste oil system last winter and says, ‘We were paying to have our waste oil hauled off and now it’s paying our heating costs. The only thing I wish was that we would have done this 5 to 10 years ago. It is the best money we have spent in a long time.’

Note: This article was paid for by the Used Oil Management Association. UOMA is a coalition of used-oil heater manufacturers that have banded together to advocate for recycled-used-oil heating industries and appropriate regulations. Members include Clean Burn, EnergyLogic, Lanair, and Firelake.

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