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Growing up in the 1980s, like most boys, I was introduced to using the family’s gas-powered lawnmower and snow blower.

Like many boys in a small town, my first paid job was grass mowing and snow removal for neighbors. Then, I started mowing for my summer job by working at the local golf course for several summers.

Now in my 40s, I continue to enjoy mowing and snow removal at my Fitchburg residence, as they root back to me providing a service of value in my community.

This year, I made significant changes to my lifelong practice of using gas-powered small engines. When my gas-powered snow blower and lawnmower each reached the end of their respective life cycles, I replaced them with battery-powered alternatives.

I was inspired to make a change after seeing several different people using battery-powered alternatives in my neighborhood. Before I could make the switch, I needed to get answers to my questions on whether these items could be functional for my needs. I had questions related to power, battery duration, and cost.

My initial research was simply observing their performance and talking to neighbors about their battery-powered experience. But I also wanted to understand how much of a difference my potential purchases could make on the emissions.

I was somewhat surprised to learn that my two-stroke snow blower put out significantly more emissions than the larger four-stroke cousin, which typically produces one-tenth of the pollutants and by using a wider path, also cuts down the workload time. I had been a user of smaller 2-stroke snow blowers since the 1980s.

According to the EPA, the average snow blower creates about one pound of carbon monoxide emissions per hour. It’s the equivalent of driving a car for 70 miles.

For gas mowers, the EPA indicates that one gas mower emits 87 pounds of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and 54 pounds of other pollutants into the air every year. And refueling lawn and garden equipment results in more than 17 million gallons of gas spilled each year — more oil than spilled by the Exxon Valdez!

I started with a battery-powered snow blower, powered by two 7.5 amp batteries. When neighbors asked about my snow blower, I advocated for battery-powered small engines out of the gate for factors I hadn’t thought much about during the purchase.

For example, due to its low noise, I could remove snow earlier in the mornings after an overnight snow without worrying about disturbing sleeping neighbors. And my ears weren’t ringing when I finished the job.

I appreciated that I would no longer need to have my snow blower tuned up or serviced each year. I also appreciated no longer needing to manage gas remaining in the equipment or storage containers before a long summer layoff. Most of all, I was most thankful to no longer smell like gasoline or breathe in the gasoline vapors during snow removal.

My only stumbling block was running out of battery power after about 35 minutes and needing to recharge. I soon realized to not get carried away doing more than my share of neighborhood sidewalks before clearing the end of the driveway. I decided the battery duration issue was a small sacrifice for all of the other benefits.

When my lawnmower seized up early in a mow job early this past summer, I knew it was time to move to a battery-powered on the lawnmower as well. For many of the same reasons, I was a fan of the battery-powered lawnmower from the beginning.

I found the lawnmower battery duration to be a non-issue with my particular model, since the one 7.5-amp battery is interchangeable with my two snow blower lithium batteries. Charging time has typically been 30 to 40 minutes.

Overall, I am quite satisfied with making the transition from gas-powered to battery-powered small engine equipment. My goal now is to tackle transitioning to other battery-powered small engine equipment (weed trimmer, hedge trimmer, and leaf blower).

When you make your next small engine purchase, consider looking at battery-powered equipment to help keep our air cleaner in Fitchburg.

Chris Jimieson serves on Fitchburg’s Resource Conservation Commission and is a geological engineer at SCS Engineers in Madison. He lives in Swan Creek with his wife and their 10-year-old son.