Money back for ditching your gas mower for greener alternative

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When you think of ‘going green’ you may not think of changing out your lawnmower. But one Austinite is heading up a program encouraging people to exchange old gas mowers for newer electric models.

The plan aims to save you money while making a bigger impact on the environment than you may think.

“Gasoline-powered mowers, until 1997, were unregulated,” said Scott Johnson. He lives in Hyde Park and started the Central Texas Electric Lawnmower Program more than 10 years ago.

“If they’re older, particularly if they’re poorly maintained, they can pollute more as a four horsepower engine than a newer-model car can,” Johnson said.

Gas-powered landscaping equipment is responsible for 5-10 pecent of all air pollution in urban areas.

Through the smog, Scott saw an opportunity.

“No more pull-cords,” Johnson said. “This mower here is one that has no emissions at all.”

Johnson created rebate incentives for people to scrap their gas mowers for new electric ones.

“We’ve sold into this market upwards of 4,000 electric mowers,” he said. In the process, he has taken 1,800-1,900 gas mowers out of commission. The mowers were then melted down and re-purposed as construction rebar. That eliminated the same amount of pollution as taking nearly 40 cars off the road for a whole year.

Purchase price of the two types of mower are pretty comparable, with the cheapest gas models about $50 less than the cheapest electric.

The average gas model has seven times the horsepower of electric mowers but improvements in lithium-ion battery technology have given electric models plenty of torque.

Johnson says gas mowers need tune-ups every year, costing you $40-$50 annually, while the engines in electric models only require maintenance every three to four years.

“So you could save, in my estimation, $200-300 over a five-year period owning a corded electric mower versus a gasoline-powered mower,” Johnson said.

If you are interested in swapping your old gas-powered mower for a greener electric model, you can take advantage of the 2014 Central Texas Electric Lawnmower Program on Sat., June 7 from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Mueller development Home Depot, 1200 Barbara Jordan Blvd.

The program is offering a 20 percent discount on new electric lawnmowers when you turn in your gas model, saving you up to $70 on the new mower.

As an added bonus, when trading in your lawn mower you’ll receive a free bag of Dillo Dirt from the City of Austin’s “Grow Green” program. The program aims to improve local water quality by moving away from nitrogen-based fertilizers.

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