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Monday, August 17, 2009

Cash-for-clunkers: lawnmower edition

Last week, my 12-year old Craftsman gas-powered lawnmower died. It had been a gift from my Dad, replacing a similar older model that was stolen from the garage more than a decade ago. The guy at the hardware store said the problem was probably the carburetor and that it would likely cost at least $100 to fix it. And I'd have to find a repair shop since they only did minor repairs.

I read Consumer Reports recommendations about lawn mowers and shopped the various "best buy" options on-line -- and discovered that the new mowers were going to cost from $225 to $400 (or more). Ugh.

When I inserted the word Louisville in my search for local electric mower retailers, I discovered that the city of Louisville has a Lawn Care Rebate Program that helps consumers and air quality. I had read about this program a few years ago (and even clipped an article that was with my old mower manual), but had forgotten about it altogether -- and wasn't even sure if it was still ongoing.

It is!

The city will provide a $50 rebate if you buy an electric mower -- and $50 more if you trade in an old mower like mine! I had to drive a few blocks to the drop-off center, but all I needed in addition to the junk mower was a driver's license for ID. The clerk handed me a signed and stamped rebate form that instantly cut $100 off the price of the electric mower I bought at a local hardware store.

The price was $10 cheaper at a big chain store in the suburbs, but I prefer to buy locally and the chain store doesn't honor the city's rebate. I would have had to mail in the form and wait for the cash rebate. Plus, the employees in the local shop had already assembled the mower.

After reading the manual, I was ready to mow. It took some effort to work around the cord (primarily because of our rose bushes, tomato plants, and rock garden), but I really liked the relative quiet of the new mower. And, I'll never have to worry about whether my can has gasoline, whether the mower needs an oil changes or tuneup -- or if I am contributing to growing urban asthma rates.

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