Choosing electricity as a fuel for buildings, vehicles and tools can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants that are harmful to both people and the planet. Learn more about electric options for landscaping tools and home heating below. Learn more about electric vehicles on the "Shift your ride" page.
Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment can contribute significantly to local and regional air pollution, with negative impacts for both people and our environment. There are many kinds of zero-emission lawn and garden equipment available. The type you need depends on the size and kind of lawn and garden you have, as well as how much time you want to spend working on your lawn. For small grass areas, a manual reel or corded electric mower can be sufficient. For larger yards, more powerful battery powered mowers are available. Similar choices exist in all categories of lawn and garden equipment, including string trimmers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws and leaf blowers.
Consumer Reports and Popular Mechanics have reviews of many types of zero-emission lawn and garden equipment. The California Air Resources Board also provides information on electric equipment. Visit their website for more information about zero emission cordless and corded leaf blowers, mowers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers and string trimmers.
Lawn tools with a two-stroke engine can spew 20 to nearly 300 times the emissions of a car.
Consider this: Running a commercial gas-powered leaf blower for just an hour produces about as much pollution as driving a 2017 Toyota Camry 1,100 miles, according to the California Air Resources Board.
Source: Simon Mui/Natural Resources Defense Council.
Did you know?
- Converting to electric equipment can eliminate the emissions from lawn and garden equipment and improve both local and regional air quality. This would reduce the occurrence of asthma, cardiovascular disease and premature death caused by air pollution.
- Electric options tend to have better safety features and don’t require storing gasoline nearby, eliminating a potential fire hazard.
- An electric push mower or weed whacker is about as loud as a hair dryer. Keeping the noise down is good for operators of this equipment, and for nearby neighbors and wildlife.
- There are many options available for electric lawn and garden equipment. You can also look for landscapers and lawn maintenance companies that use all electric equipment.
City Pilot with Zero Emission Tools
The City's operations and maintenance crews currently have on hand approximately 30 pieces of small, gas-powered equipment used for vegetation management, including leaf blowers, edge trimmers, and chainsaws. As part of the 2018 greenhouse gas emissions inventory, the City recorded close to 6,500 gallons of fuel consumption per year for the use of these types of equipment, which is responsible for about 3% of the City's overall emissions.
The City is evaluating the use of small electric tools, with the goal of transitioning from gas-powered tools over the course of the next 12-18 months. The Public Works Department placed an order for the pilot project equipment earlier this year and are currently awaiting delivery.
Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners for all climates. Heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. Heat pumps transfer heat using a compressor, an expansion valve, and a refrigerant. Much like how a refrigerator uses a compressor and a refrigerant to cool the inside of your refrigerator or freezer, a heat pump uses the same process but in reverse for your building.
Because they transfer heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can efficiently provide comfortable temperatures for your home. High-efficiency heat pumps also dehumidify better than standard central air conditioners, resulting in less energy usage and more cooling comfort in summer months.
Heat pumps are powered by electricity and come in two primary varieties: ductless (aka a mini-split heat pump) and ducted (aka central, forced air) systems.
Comparing Ductless and Ducted Heat Pumps
A ductless heat pump does not require the use of air ducts to distribute air. Ductless systems consist of an outdoor compressor unit and one or more indoor heads in common living areas. Indoor heads are typically mounted high on a wall and each one can be controlled independently by remote control. Ductless systems are up to three times more efficient than baseboard, wall heat, or electric furnaces. Ductless systems can save 25-50% in heating costs over traditional electric heating systems.
Ducted heat pump systems are similar, but the indoor unit is attached to an air handler that forces the hot air through your central duct system. They are controlled with a thermostat. Ducted systems have variable efficiency depending on the quality and efficiency of your current duct system.
Choosing Between a Ductless or Ducted Heat Pump System
Ductless heat pumps are typically a great upgrade for homes with electric baseboard heating, radiant heating, propane or wood stove heating, leaky ducts, or uneven heating. A ducted system may be better for your home if you want to use your existing furnace system or plan to replace an existing ducted heat pump. An installer will be able to provide the most informed solution for your home based on your energy goals, home size, room configuration and more.
Incentives for Heat Pumps
Puget Sound Energy offers rebates for ductless heat pumps for customers to upgrade from another electric heating system (excluding existing heat pumps). Standard rebates are $800 for a single-family home. There are also incentives available for manufactured homes ($2,400) and income-qualified customers ($2,400) through PSE’s Efficiency Boost program.