Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


April 19, 2008

Lawn Aerator Shoes, Electric Mower, Organic Fertilizer, Water, Bike

My lawn is beginning to turn green. Several years ago I realized that I could have a green lawn, with very little effort, much less energy used, and no smell or nasty chemicals. Oh, and I also saved a ton of money.

Lawn Aerator Shoes

It’s hard to say if aerating my lawn by walking over it with spiked plates strapped to my shoes was helpful. It was not hard to do, involved a very small cost for the shoes, and did not result in noise or stench from gas-powered equipment. All I know is, my lawn was nice and green for the last several years.

Rechargeable Electric Mower Review

The electric (battery) lawn mower is awesome. It is quiet, effective, and has way more juice than I need to mow my suburban lawn. It doesn’t stink, and charges in a short time, after which it’s ready to go for the next time I need to mow. I highly recommend a battery electric mower for anyone inclined to get rid of their gasoline model. It’s a better change for the environment, too (gas mowers, like most small gas motors, are terribly inefficient and spew forth great amounts of greenhouse gasses.

I set the mowing height to 3 inches, which is pretty long but still makes for a nice, lush lawn. Better yet, this means I mow very infrequently, and there’s plenty of room for the clippings to fall in between. All that nice organics material falls back into the ground, traps moisture, and I don’t have to rake or bag clippings. The lawn also grows more slowly, so in the last few years, I mowed maybe 8 times total.

Best Organic Fertilizer for Your Lawn

Because most of the organic material is going back into the lawn as compost, you need very little fertilizer, and maybe no weed killer. The lawn is robust enough to keep down most of the weeds (I do pull a few dandelions and crabgrass by hand, but not a lot). So a little organic fertilizer in spring is enough to give the grass a great boost.

Don’t Water Your Lawn Too Much

Last year, I didn’t use my underground automatic sprinkler system at all. This was not a great idea, since it was a very dry summer; I should have watered a few times. As a result, I now need to resurrect one patch of lawn, and I am pretty sure our shrubs and flowering trees would have been more able to fend off pests with just a little watering.

The grass itself does better if you cut it long (see above). The beds do well with mulch, but still, a little water when needed goes a long way.

On the bright side, my water bill went way (way!) down. Keep an eye on the moisture level of the soil, and water only when necessary. Two years ago, I needed no extra water; last year I should have given a little. It depends.

But watering every day, or other day, or more is totally unnecessary, and incredibly expensive. A lot of water once every few weeks (if nature doesn’t provide) is much more effective.

Best Landscaping Services

It’s a little work, but doing your own landscaping and gardening is good exercise and very easy if you follow some basic rules.

I no longer have any gas powered equipment. I shoveled my driveway all winter, eschewing the snow blower in favor of a good old shovel. It snowed a lot this winter, and it wasn’t that hard.

I especially hate the whiny leaf blowers used by landscapers, mainly. They are noisy, smelly, useless, and terrible in all ways. Just rake! It’s far better for the lawn, too.

Ride a Bike To Work

I am back on my bike again, commuting to work, now that the roads and weather are more benign. It’s good for my muscles, and good for the environment, and reduces congestion, and takes less time. And my wife likes what it does for my legs.

There are many, many small ways you can upgrade from the old way of doing things we never though about. These are just a few. What changes have you made?

April 7, 2008

$2,400 Refund … from Saving Water

Category: Big Things,Conservation,Garden,Household,Save Water,Take Actions,Tips – Tom Harrison – 12:02 pm

When I started this blog in 2005, I quickly realized that the only way to conserve energy was to know how much of it I used. We have had continued success reducing electricity use. And finally, I can quantify how much we have reduced our water use.

We finally got our adjusted water bill, and we are getting more than $2,400 back from Newton Water and Sewer. Wahoo! (I need the money: we’re not getting a tax refund this year :-| )

Our water savings came from conservation. Here’s how: (more…)

December 1, 2007

Another Reason Leaf Blowers Suck

Category: Garden,Observations – Tom Harrison – 10:26 pm

Friday night, after a long week of work, we settled down to sleep, alarm off, a little extra sleep envisioned in our rapidly approaching dreams. Saturday after 7AM, our dreams were broken by the sounds of leaf blowers. Three men, three leaf blowers, an an idling truck all running continuously between 7:15 and 8:15 were clearing fallen leaves from across the street. The machines were loud. They were stinky. Nothing new here. Except one thing: wind. (more…)

November 17, 2007

Raking Leaves (with a Rake)

Category: Garden,Little Things,Observations,Rants,Tips – Tom Harrison – 1:01 pm

I just spent an hour raking leaves from our front lawn. My daughter came out and helped. She jumped in a few leaf piles. Now she’s out riding her bike. We could have hired a landscaping contractor (so: consider how this little trade-off reflects not just our energy problems, but a rather large social issue).

Here are some benefits: (more…)

May 22, 2007

Lawn Aerator Shoes Review

Category: Garden,Green Reviews,Technology,Tips – Tom Harrison – 9:09 pm

Lawn Aerator shoes work well.

You might call them lawn aerator shoes or aerator sandals or even lawn aeration shoes but the maker of my new Bond Green Giant Spiked ShoesTM did a good thing. I read several reviews of spiked aerator sandals and found mixed reviews.

My review is not mixed: they are good. I paid a whopping $16.99 from Clean Air Gardening for this lawn care equipment, and compared to the cost of pretty much anything else you might use to take care of the grass, this purchase was a bargain. In 15 minutes, I had done a thorough job of our back 40; tomorrow I’ll do the front. (more…)

July 8, 2006

Save Time, Effort and Money with a Sustainable Lawn

I did some calculating today. I found that some simple changes to lawn care routine can save you money, time, and effort. And by doing that you can stop having a negative impact on the environment. In fact, the impact might even be positive!

Conservation is an important measure for us to take, for sure. But a more important question might be how can we accomplish our goals in a way that does not expend, but sustains.

Today I considered the costs we have incurred from moving to a sustainable lawn. Does $500/year seem trivial to you?

This is a real example of how important it is to think, and dismiss your preconceived notions. I’ll prove that it’s not trivial. (more…)

May 6, 2006

Rechargeable Lawnmower: It’s Great!

Rechargeable Lawn Mower

Rechargeable Lawn Mower

In a previous post I wrote about noise and especially bad energy efficiency of lawnmowers and other garden equipment, and suggested electric lawnmowers. I ordered one through Amazon and it was delivered (free!) in a few days. The grass is finally getting high enough here to mow, so I tried it out. It’s great!

But I am now faced with a moral dilemma. (more…)

April 3, 2006

The Smells and Sounds of Spring

Category: Conservation,Garden,Save Fuel,Technology,Tips – Tom Harrison – 9:23 pm

Finally, spring has started to come and turn the gray, gray, gray of New England back to green. And with that comes the sounds and smells of spring.

By which I mean the whining and smoke from horribly inefficient leaf blowers and lawn mowers. And of course we also dump 50lb bags of fertilizer and pesticides on our lawns and gardens. Don’t forget to set those automatic sprinklers! When the work is done, it’s time to fire up the grill.

There are some real things you can do to reduce the energy used (and especially the harm to the environment) while still having a nice looking yard. (more…)