Green Snow Removal

In New England, snow is a part of life and dealing with it is something you have to do.  We currently have about a foot of snow and it’s still coming down steadily.  So what are the greenest ways to move it out of your way?

Father and daughter standing in snow gear with snow shovels

Greenest Snow Removal Jonathan and our daughter ready to shovel the 3′ of snow from Blizzard Nemo

Greenest – Snow Shovel

The greenest (and cheapest) is the tried and true snow shovel and a bunch of work.  Shoveling snow is great exercise, but can be back breaking.  You can get the kids involved.  Give them a brush and they can clear off the car or give them a small shovel and set them loose on the walkways and stairs.

Greener – Electric Snow Blower

Shoveling the snow is not always a viable option because it takes time and can be exhausting.When shoveling snow just won’t cut it, we use an electric snow blower.  We have this small electric snow blower, namely the Toro Electric Snow Thrower, that makes the job much quicker and less back breaking.   If don’t have a driveway, the Toro Power Shovel may be sufficient. Today I was able to clear the snow from our driveway and the parking space in front of our house in less than an hour with my two five year old kids “helping.”  I was even able to get things done in time to catch the start of the football game today.

Electric Snow Blower having cleared a path through feet of snow

Greener Snow Removal

The advantages of the electric snow thrower over its bigger gasoline powered cousins are:

  • Cleaner - Because it uses an electric motor instead of a gasoline engine it does not have exhaust that spews CO2 and other pollutants into the air.  It also does not smell either. The electricity is not without emissions, though it is at the power plant and the efficiency of electricity generation is generally better than the internal combustion engine.  Eventually we will hopefully have emission free electricity as the norm.
  • Quieter - The electric motor is much quieter than the gasoline engines and does not require ear protection, though some sort of hat is good to keep those ears warm.
  • No Gasoline Storage – Since you plug it in, you do not have to keep gasoline around the house, though we already have a gas can for our lawn mower, it is usually empty over the winter.
  • No Engine Maintenance – The electric motor does not require the usual maintenance associated with a gasoline engine making it easier to maintain.
  • Easier to Store – Because of its smaller size and lighter weight, the electric snow thrower is easier to store.  During the summer, I carry it down to our basement without any effort.
  • Less Expensive – The electric snow thrower goes for around $300, where as the gasoline ones go for much more.

As with any power tool, always remember safety first and be sure to wear goggles.  They’ll also help the snow from blowing back in your face, which inevitably will happen when the wind is blowing as it usually does during snow storms.

The electric snow thrower does have some limitations. Because they are smaller and not as powerful, they do not handle the heavy wet snow well and take a little longer to move the snow.  Also they require a long extension cord and an outside electrical outlet.

We are fortunate that we have several very nice neighbors that have big gasoline snow blowers so if we do get a really big storm, we can ask for help.  In the past 7 years of living here we haven’t needed the help of a gasoline powered snow blower.

Least Green – Gasoline Powered Snow Blower

Sometimes you do need the power and mobility of a gasoline powered snow blower.  In those cases, the gasoline powered snow blowers are the best option.  They work equally well for light fluffy snow and the heavy wet stuff.  They are loud, dirty and require regular maintenance.  If you can arrange it, try getting together with your neighbors and sharing a unit.  You can split the initial cost, maintenance and storage of the snow blower.

Whichever snow removal method you choose, be sure use the proper safety gear, don’t over do it and have some fun.

For your amusement, here are some cute snow removal photos to enjoy while you are sipping a warm cup of fair trade organic hot chocolate.

 

Happy Greening!
Jon

 

p.s. Wouldn’t it be cool to turn a dirty gasoline powered snow blower into a clean electric one?



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Comments

  1. I was just thinking about this today while my husband was using our (big, dirty, polluting) gas-powered snowblower :) We have a really long driveway, and live in an area of MA that gets a lot more snow than we used to get when we lived near Boston, so it seemed like the only viable option for large snows. Of course we get out with the kids and shovel instead if it’s reasonable, but to get it done in a hurry on workdays or when it’s extra cold or extra heavy snow, we use the snow blower.

    But just today I was wondering about hiring someone to come plow the driveway with a truck that has a plow attached. It’s out of our budget now, especially given that we already have a snowblower, but in the future, what’s your opinion on where that falls on the “green” scale?

  2. If you have a long enough driveway to warrant plowing with a truck, I expect that would be significantly faster than the snow blower. The truck will have a bigger engine, but it should be more efficient. I expect there is some size that makes it more efficient to plow than use a snow blower, but not really clear where that point is.

    In the end I think it comes down to time and effort. If you can afford to have it plowed, then you get all that time and effort back to spend with the family.

  3. Another point that we try to consider is reducing our use of de-icing salts which wind up in the more immediate environment. I mean, not that it makes any difference compared to the amount that washes down the gutters from all the roads, but it still makes me feel good to not just dump buckets full on our own sidewalks.

  4. Hello, the whole thing is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s really excellent, keep up writing.