Posts in June 2008

Our New Electric Mower

on June 28th, 2008 by

We finally did it! We bought an electric mower.

Keep in mind, we did need a new mower. We are very aware of the fact that buying something “green” when you do not need to replace a product you already own does not pay off fiscally. In this case, our old gasoline mower is on its last wheel. My father-in-law has already repaired the thing several times (it’s something he really likes to do). In fact, he will be taking the old mower for parts on his next visit.

Did It Cost More than a Gasoline Mower?

Yes.

I compared the feature set of the new electric mower to the features of gasoline mowers until I found a functionally equivalent product that I would have bought were it not for the electric mower calling to me. The equivalent gasoline mower was about $400. I know that you can buy a mower for $150, but “you get what you pay for” resounds in my head. The old gasoline mower was originally purchased for $350 in 2001, so I feel confident that the $400 is an accurate price for a solid comparison. The new electric mower cost $474 (shipping was free).

Naturally, I felt compelled to calculate the return on investment (ROI) for the new mower. I sat down the other night with a spreadsheet open and began my research and calculations. The research involved finding out the tank size of the gasoline mower. I used our current mower for that and the amount of gasoline used to cut our yard. The funny thing is, you simply cannot easily find the tank size for a walk behind mower anywhere! We scoured the Internet for any reference and for any mower to no avail. I had to resort to my math background to estimate the tank size based on measurements and the shape of the tank.

Another very interesting bit of research involved finding out how much electricity is used to charge a battery. I know how to calculate kilowatt-hours from the rated wattage and amp-hours of a battery, etc., etc. However, I never thought about charging a battery…until now. I’ve been interested in getting a meter that sits between an item and a wall outlet, but we did not buy one just yet. Instead, I found an obscure post from an energy expert about how to estimate the amount used to charge a battery to capacity. He claims that you can multiply the rated watt-hours of the battery by a factor of 1.6 to arrive at the total watt-hours necessary to charge fully.

Note: When we actually purchase a meter, I’ll update my calculations and this post.

The Necessary Calculations

So, our battery’s watts * amp-hours = 360 Wh * 1.6 = 576 Wh to charge the battery to capacity. The tank volume of our gasoline mower * 0.5 (I use about 50% of the 0.80 gal tank to cut our yard) = 0.40 gal used per cut of our yard. Now, for the fun.

I have calculated the cost of gasoline and electricity on June 27, 2008. Gasoline was $3.9590/gal at the station we frequent, and electricity was about $0.1580/kWh. I also looked at my history of cutting grass here. I cut the grass once a week for about 25 weeks each year.

I am looking for the time it will take to catch up, fiscally, with the alternative purchase we could have made; a gasoline mower. The price difference of the two mowers was a flat $74. All I needed to do was to divide that difference by the difference in cost per cut of our yard.

Break-even Analysis

Here are the numbers for the break-even analysis.

Gasoline Mower Electric Mower
Cost per Cut (Jun 27, 2008) $1.5638 $0.0910
Weeks to Break Even n/a 50.24
Seasons/Years to Break Even n/a 2.01

Well, it looks like it will take about 2 years to break-even. That, of course, carries quite a few assumptions. The main unreasonable assumption is that the price of gasoline and electricity will remain the same as they are now for the next 2 years. Reasonable assumptions are as follows.

  • We would have purchased a new gasoline mower for around $400 had we not been interested in an electric mower.
  • The cost of maintenance on a gasoline mower is roughly equivalent to the cost of maintenance on an electric mower (e.g. replace the carburetor on the gas mower vs. replace the battery on the electric mower).

Conclusion

I am quite happy with our purchase of an electric mower instead of a gasoline mower. It is drastically lighter and easier to push. It is about 75% quieter than our old gasoline mower (I can actually listen to my iPod without having to deafen myself with the volume). I don’t inhale all those fumes that irritate my sinuses and increase my allergy symptoms.

Finally, I feel better that I am not contributing to the pollution statistics. Did you know that 5% of the nation’s pollution comes from traditional gasoline-powered mowers? In fact, they produce as much pollution in a single hour as a modern car driven 95 miles!

In future posts, I will expand upon these fiscal calculations in an attempt to achieve more accuracy.

Flickr Pics Fixed

on June 26th, 2008 by

We have figured out a fix for getting my pictures to work when they are on the same line. The problem is not with Flicker but with WordPress’ text editor. Why this didn’t show up when I was using WordPress’ “Add an Image” feature is beyond me. My only thought is that WordPress probably built in a fix for it. So, the problem was that the all the links to the pictures on a line would go to the link of the last picture on the line – the last picture would overwrite all the links of pictures to its left. Luckily, Matt has taught me a few things about the HTML page of the text editor and he showed me how to fix this too. I upload the pictures from Flickr (with each of them on a separate line) and then go into the HTML page of the text editor and remove the spaces between the images.  This way all of the picture links stay intact and are on the same line (to conserve vertical space).  I have modified some of the pictures in this fashion, but I have not converted them all – hopefully by the end of today or tomorrow they will all be fixed.  Flickr is really cool, so I am happy it wasn’t a problem with Flickr.

Back on P90X

on June 25th, 2008 by

The colds are gone and muscles are repaired, so on with the show.

Last night we started back on the P90X program. Before we started, we took our measurements (the same ones we have tracked from Day 0 and Day 14).  In most cases, Matt and I both were either better than Day 0 and worse than Day 14 or better than Day 0 and Day 14. So, we are thinking that this week is a re-do of the Week 3. We are going to take our measurements again at the end of this week, compare, officially decide if we just completed Week 3 or Week 2 (both Week 2 & 3 have the same workouts), and then proceed from there.

Fitness Equipment

As I expected, it took a bit to get motivated, but once we were doing the workout, it wasn’t bad. I was surprised that I did all of the exercises, maybe not with the full enthusiasm, but I did them and that is what counts. When we first started the program, it took a few days to get into.  Don’t get me wrong, this is an awesome program; however, there is just something inherent with most people that exercise is one of those things that you have to push yourself to do. I know it is good for me, but there are just so many other things I would like to do sometimes. It will be better in a few days though and I will start looking forward to it again.

Our friend Jeremy just did his P90X Fit Test last night and I think he will be starting the program this coming Monday, so it will be nice to know that someone else that we actually know is doing this program too.

Flickr Pics

on June 24th, 2008 by

If you have clicked on any of my pictures on my blog recently, you probably noticed that half the time you don’t get the picture you thought you would.  I switched to Flicker for my images and the editing is a little buggy.  I can’t put more than one picture on a line without the last image dominating all of the picture links.  My husband and I will be looking into how to fix it and hopefully the pictures will be back and working correctly again soon.  Somehow I just love to push certain technology a little out of its comfort zone and these kind of things happen. In the mean time, if you click on a picture and you don’t get the one you were expecting, click on the photostream link to the right of the incorrect photo and then you can view all my pictures.

Dinner Company Visit

on June 14th, 2008 by

Today we prepared our meals for a month at The Dinner Company. We were the only ones there other than one of the owners. It really is nice when there are not a lot of people to compete with for food stations, however, it would be really good for them if they had more business. The two girls that own the place are great – friendly, nice, and smart. I just love talking with the owners when we are there preparing our meals.

I was excited not only to go prepare our meals but to take pictures while we were there for the scrap challenge that I am participating in with Carla and Christie. This is my first time to join in on their scrap challenge. This month’s challenge, created by Christie, is to do a layout about a ritual that you do often. I unfortunately forgot my camera though and now I have to come up with a new idea. I even thought to use my camera phone, but then I got back into preparing meals and forgot all about it. Back to the think tank.

Saving Electricity

on June 12th, 2008 by

My husband was looking up the wattage of common items around the home and stumbled upon this site Saving Electricity. Some of the information seems a little outdated, but there are signs of current information being added and some of the information is probably the latest you can get (like statistics from the government). When I started looking at the site, I found lots of neat information. I especially like that Michael Bluejay (the writer of the site) hosts his website with a provider that purchases renewable energy certificates that offset the their carbon emissions. We need to start doing that – purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset our carbon emissions – another thing to look into.

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