North Haven Clean Energy Task Force: Go Green in Your Yard
This is part of a regular column series from the North Haven Clean Energy Task Force seeking to share everyday ways to improve energy efficiency and save money while helping the planet.
Each of us can effect change through our daily decisions by supporting environment-friendly public policies, but also by what we do in our own backyards.
Abundant evidence shows that gas-powered leaf blowers and mowers are major contributors to air pollution that worsens climate change.
The several hundred million gas-powered lawn tools currently in use in the United States produce from 30 to nearly 300 times the emissions of cars because they operate far less efficiently and do not have the emissions-capturing technology that regulations have made standard in the auto industry. For example, the data show that using a gas-powered leaf blower for one hour produces greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to driving a car from Texas to Alaska. You can estimate your own pollution contribution by using the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator on the www.epa.gov website.
So what can we do? Buy and use battery-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers, which emit no fossil fuel pollution directly and are reliable, available, and affordable.
Unlike electric motors, gas engines emit significant heat during the combustion phase, thus wasting considerable energy. While lithium-ion batteries need to be recharged with electricity, this represents a small fraction of harmful emissions produced by gas tools (and one can easily find electricity providers whose energy sources are 100 percent green).
An increasing number of products are available, as global demand for electric lawn and garden equipment is forecast to increase six percent per year to $6.6 billion in 2025, according to a February 2022 report by Freedonia on the website MarketResearch.com. A summary of the report says: “Growth will be driven by the ongoing transition from engine-driven equipment to battery-powered equipment in many segments, and battery-powered products will account for the vast majority of gains.”
A plus if you buy more than one electric-powered tool from the same manufacturer is that you can buy just one battery and use it in all the devices. Moreover, battery-powered tools are more reliable than gas-powered lawn equipment. Most electric mowers and leaf blowers receive a favorable reliability rating, while no gas model earns better than a satisfactory rating. And, as battery-powered equipment improves in quality, their warranties are increasingly superior to those for gas-powered lawn tools.
California and several cities have banned—or will soon ban—the sale and use of gas-powered lawn equipment. But such legislation is a slow process. Deciding to purchase an electric mower that mulches leaves and/or an electric leaf blower or choosing a lawn service that uses battery-powered equipment (or simply buying a rake) will produce immediate and positive change. Your neighbors, your community, and the planet will thank you.