EarthWorks, Inc., a full-service commercial landscaping company based in Dallas, expects to save 30-35 percent on maintenance costs annually running lawn equipment on propane autogas, the world's most widely used alternative fuel. EarthWorks also reports $41,600 in annual fuel cost savings.
"We have been thrilled with converting our lawn equipment fleet to propane autogas," said Chris Lee, president of EarthWorks. "The biggest benefit isn't even the more affordable fuel; it's that our maintenance and repair costs have decreased dramatically. Propane is so much cleaner and so much easier on our machines that I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it myself."
Lee said he was initially drawn to propane autogas because of the high price of gasoline and the increased maintenance and internal engine issues EarthWorks experienced since the mandatory addition of ethanol to gasoline. Now, he reports virtually no carbon build-up on valves, reduced carburetor maintenance and extended oil life.
Propane autogas not only helps businesses like EarthWorks lower their fuel and maintenance costs, it also reduces harmful emissions and contributes to cleaner air. Propane-powered mowers are allowed to operate on Ozone Action or Air Quality Action Days without being in violation of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. In 2012, there were 36 Air Quality Action Days during which EarthWorks was able to continue working.
The EPA estimates more than 17 million gallons of traditional fuel are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment. But with the closed loop refueling system for propane-powered mowers, fleet operators experience no spilled fuel and fewer instances of pilferage. Propane autogas is widely available throughout Texas, with more than 700 propane autogas marketers across the state. Propane tanks are easy to switch and there are on-site cylinder exchange programs available.
EarthWorks' fleet includes twenty 36" mowers from Toro and Scag, and twenty-four 52" mowers from Toro, Scag and Exmark. Lee estimates the landscaping company uses 40,000 gallons of propane per year and mows 31,500,000 square feet of turf during the growing season. EarthWorks also saved $15,000 in incentives through a state and national program administered by the Propane Council available to landscapers switching to propane autogas.
"EarthWorks is just one of many landscapers experiencing the benefits of propane autogas," said Jackie Mason, education and marketing director of the Propane Council of Texas (ProCOT). "Across the state of Texas, more mower fleet operators are choosing propane, one of the most viable, affordable and environmentally conscious fuels."
EarthWorks joins other Texas lawn equipment fleets that have saved significantly by fueling with propane, including Benchmark Landscapes, City of Austin Parks Department and Austin Independent School District.