Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lawnmower Efficiency Matters

For the last several years, one 2.5-gallon tank of gas has lasted the
lawnmower all season. Yesterday, we had to refill it because we ran out
of gas. This was the first time we needed to refill our supply of
lawnmower gas.

Coincidentally, this was also the first year I failed to perform
"routine maintenance" in the Spring. The mower is using the same
sparkplug as last year, the same blade as last year, and the same air
filter as last year.

As I waited for the refill of gas to arrive, I spent a good five minutes
sharpening the blade, using a sharpening stone and oil my brother gave
me fro Christmas a few years ago. The blade sharpened right up, and my
wife appeared with the extra gas just as I was finishing up this small
project.

I have also been the primary lawnmower this season. Normally, my wife
enjoys mowing the lawn, but is out of commission for lawnmowing duties
for the foreseeable future. Maybe my lawnmowing style is less efficient
and uses more gas than hers?

My strategy for mowing the lawn this season has been to never water the
grass and delay mowing the lawn for as long as possible. I figured this
would result in fewer mowings. Maybe the extra-long grass meant the
dull blade had to work harder and thus use more gas to perform the same
job.

Perhaps the dirty air filter caused an inefficient air/fuel mixture. Or
the old spark plug was wasteful.

The cost for a new air filter and spark plug is more than a couple
gallons of gas, but using less gas would probably be the "better for the
environment" choice. Although my quest to use less gas is primarily my
frugal (maybe even cheap) desire to spend as little money on gas as
possible, I haven't thought much about the expenses needed to reduce
spending on gas, and if those expenses actually reduce the expense on
gas by the same (or more) amount of dollars.

Normally I justify the expense for maintenance by the knowledge that
less gas will be bought. This Spring, however, I just was too lazy to
perform the maintenance on the lawnmower.

A good lesson learned was that I can totally sharpen my lawnmower blade
for next year, and save that expense outright.

Hopefully things will cool down and I will only have to mow the lawn two
or three more times this season.

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