Around your home: CFLs
Changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) just makes sense. CFLs last longer, use less energy and save you money. In 2011 we distributed 20 million CFLs to our customers, saving enough energy to power more than 65,000 residential homes or offsetting the carbon output of 130,000 passenger cars.
Join the growing number of people who are switching to CFLs. If you’re a Duke Energy customer you may be eligible to order free CFLs. Check your eligibility and order today at www.duke-energy.com/freeCFLs.
We asked, you answered: see what regular folks think about their energy use.
SEER 14? Say what? Get the FYI on your HVAC with Nathan Cranford of Duke Energy.
How your lawn looks defines you. Dandelions are your nemesis. Crabgrass? Not on your watch. You don’t just care for your lawn. You baby it. You fertilize, aerate, seed, prevent, water and mow. You edge and you weed whack. Your perfect blocks of dark green are expertly manicured, cut in perfectly parallel 45-degree rows.
If this describes you, then you know the horsepower of your mower’s engine, the precise blade height for every month of the growing season and the advantages to both bagging and mulching. And, if you know all this, then maybe this article isn’t for you.
But, if you’ve never had a sign in your yard that reads, “Yard of the Month,” then you may be interested in the variety of lawn mower technologies at your disposal this spring.
We took a quick test drive with three different lawn mower styles – the gasoline engine mower, the electric mower and the reel mower. Mostly, it was for fun, but we did learn some things along the way.
Let’s look at the gas-powered mower first.
The keywords here are horsepower and range. If you have a big lawn filled with lush fescue, a gas-powered mower is going to be hard to beat. You may even need a sweet tractor – who doesn’t want one of those? The main reasons to use a gas-powered mower are:
- Your long, thick grass requires a powerful engine.
- You don’t have any local noise restrictions to consider (our mower ran at 96 dB according to the Decibel 10 app on our smartphone – that’s just shy of a jet coming in for a landing.)
- You don’t mind doing a little light maintenance, such as oil changes.
- Your 100-ft. extension cord won’t reach to that far corner of your yard.
The next option to consider is an electric lawn mower.
Quiet, light and easily maneuvered, my first time behind one of these silent assassins was just short of life changing. The specific model I tested didn’t have the same cutting power as our gas mower, so it struggled a bit with our long, thick fescue lawn. But for sheer ease of use and the ability to hear yourself think during operation, you may want to seriously consider making a switch. There have been big advancements in electric mowers, including self-propelled models, so power isn’t the issue it used to be.
There is also a new crop of battery-powered electric mowers that eliminate the cord hassle, but make sure you check that the battery power is adequate for cutting your lawn. Most battery-powered lawn mowers will list the size of lots that a fully charged battery can handle.
Here are the main criteria for considering an electric-powered lawn mower:
- Your yard is small and flat with a low number of trees and playgrounds to mow around.
- You want to save some money. (Electric mowers are generally less expensive than their gas-powered rivals to both purchase and operate, especially when considering the fact that gas is nearing or exceeding $4 a gallon and that you can power your whole house for about $4 a day.)
- You like to hear yourself think (the model we tested ran at 86 dB).
- Your gas-powered mower is getting a little too heavy to push around.
- You’re not very handy with a screwdriver.
- You’re tired of pulling a cord to start the engine.
- You’re not scared by the term “cord management.”
And, that brings us to the human-powered reel mower. Before last week, I hadn’t used one of these in probably 20 years. The nostalgia factor was high. I enjoyed watching the clippings fly through the air with the rhythmic clatter of the turning blades. That is where the fun stopped. Our test grass was just too long for this mower type. Maybe you’ll have better luck.
So, why should you consider a reel mower?
- You’re looking for a very engaging workout.
- You like sharpening blades on a regular basis.
- You have a very small, flat yard and like to mow it multiple times a week.
- You think mowing the lawn should be no louder than a soft golf clap.
- You’re a traditionalist.
Let us know what type of lawn mower you use and why in the comment section below.
Spring cleaning is a great time to take advantage of many of the energy saving tips that can be found here on Youtility. For example, you can dust your light bulbs or switch them out for CFLs, change your HVAC return filters, program your thermostat, make sure your ceiling fans are turning counter clockwise for the wind chill effect and vacuum your refrigerator coils. Duke Energy customers – the Halpins, from Charlotte, N.C. – were kind enough to let us in their home to show us how easy it is to be energy efficient. Watch the video and then download and print this checklist to get your family started on the right track this spring!