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Use outdoor equipment efficiently
There are lots to consider when using your barbeque, lawn equipment, pond and fountain pumps and power tools including: correct installation and location, power management, cleaning, care and maintenance and ongoing operation.
- Ensure your outdoor equipment runs well and lasts longer
- Save money and energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Operate and maintain your outdoor equipment correctly and safely
At a glance
- Savings 2
- Ease 3
- Impact 2
Using your barbeque (BBQ) efficiently will help save energy and reduce the amount of pollution created by cooking outdoors. By keeping your BBQ well maintained you will also ensure it gives you years of reliable service.
- Locate your BBQ safely away from overhanging trees and so it can be operated efficiently. When not in use, store it out of the elements or use a cover to ensure it lasts longer and is protected from the weather.
- The first time you use your BBQ, clean the plate with hot soapy water, dry it thoroughly, coat with oil and turn on for at least 20 minutes. This will season the plate and help to protect it from rust. After normal use, scrape BBQ clean and leave a fine coat of oil. When cleaning the plate with soapy water, be sure to season it again afterwards to protect the cooking surface and stop rust.
- Grilling with the hood down helps maintain energy efficiency and ensures the heat is distributed more evenly throughout the grill.
- Cook your meat and vegies at the right temperature and for the right amount of time in order to retain juices and flavour as well as reduce energy consumption. You can also warm or reheat desserts or other baked goods on the BBQ rack after the power is turned off making use of residual heat.
- Maintain your BBQ so it works efficiently and lasts longer by keeping the hotplate clean, making necessary repairs, and following maintenance instructions, such as checking connections to the gas bottle.
- Ensure LPG gas cylinders are re-used and recycled when they're empty by refilling your bottle at your local camping or hardware store or participating in swap schemes.
- If you're using charcoal to power your BBQ, look for charcoal made from certified sustainably-harvested wood or briquettes that doesn't have added chemicals to aid ignition. The chemicals found in some briquettes can be toxic and affect the taste of your food.
- To further reduce pollution from charcoal grills, avoid lighter fluid that contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—this includes self-lighting charcoal. Using a charcoal chimney, electric charcoal starter, or a natural combustion product is better for the environment and your health. These can also reduce the potential for fire-related injuries.
- If using a wood-fired oven, be sure to source your wood from reputable firewood producers who have signed up to the voluntary code of practice for firewood merchants such as the members of the Australian Firewood Association. Avoid collecting it yourself as dead trees and fallen branches provide important nutrients as well as homes to a range of native animals.
- Take care to follow good burning practice. This will help to avoid smoke and air pollution that can be caused by not burning the fire hot enough or using wood that contains too much moisture.
- Choice has useful information about maintaining and using your BBQ safely.
Minimise the environmental impact from maintaining your lawn by following these tips:
- Reduce the need to mow by creating an energy and water smart garden. By minimising paved and lawn areas you'll not only reduce the amount of energy required to maintain your garden, you'll also reduce the amount of water your garden guzzles.
- Keep your lawn tools in good shape by cleaning after use and servicing them regularly as recommended by the manufacturer. Keep a cloth handy for wiping blades and some oil to lubricate moving parts.
- If you have a push mower, it's a good idea to cut your grass regularly as this will require less effort and produce a better result.
- Once you've finished mowing, trimming or blowing, collect grass clippings, leaves and other garden debris to make some great compost. This helps keep moisture and nutrients in your soil.
- If you need to use your blower to collect debris, vacuum it rather than blow it (if your model has this option). This will make it easy to use for mulch or compost and stop you blowing your leaves into your neighbours' yards while minimising dust.
- Remember to keep your grass and garden clippings for mulch and compost material.
- Stay safe and read the instructions before using all gardening equipment. You may also wish to consider your neighbours as well as the noise restrictions in your area when using loud lawn equipment.
When managed efficiently ponds and fountains can make a beautiful low impact feature in your garden.
- Use a timer to manage your pump's run-time and reduce the pumping time to the minimum needed to keep the water clean. Check the manufacturer's instructions to ensure optimum performance.
- If you're installing a solar pump, ensure that the solar panel is north facing to maximise sunlight collection. To ensure efficient operation check that the connection between the pump and panel is watertight and secure. Clean your panel regularly and preferably tilt it at an angle so moisture can run off.
- Consider running your electric pump during an off-peak tariff period when electricity is cheaper. It won't save energy, but it will cost you less. Contact your electricity provider for more details and to see if this option is available to you.
- Manage the amount of pumping and maintenance you need to do by keeping your pond clean. Regularly remove leaves, limit the number of fish you have and use aquatic plants to help prevent algae growth.
- Give your pump a regular check-up and make sure you follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions.
By maintaining and operating your tools efficiently, they will last a lot longer, be safer to use and reduce the need for repairs. Well maintained garden tools will also help to reduce the chance of spreading disease among plants.
- Switch items such as cordless drills off at the wall once you've finished charging them and only charge them when you need them.
- Keep your tools well maintained. After use, some tools require a wipe down and usually a drop of oil. Ensure you blow out any debris or particles that may have lodged in moving parts. This will ensure the tool works efficiently and lasts longer. Check power cords and have them professionally replaced if faulty.
- Use the right tools for the job and you'll not only do the job better, your tools will last longer and be less likely to develop problems due to stresses and strains.
- Consider using non-powered tools for jobs like lawn edging and hedge trimming. For small jobs they are the quiet and pollution free option.
- Protect your tools from the weather by putting them away somewhere dry after use.
- Maintain manual tools by keeping them lubricated and sharp. You can keep metal rust free by oiling regularly. If you do find rust, remove this with a metal brush and a rag soaked in rust remover such as methylated spirits. Rinse clean and immediately oil thoroughly to prevent rust returning. Use a sharpening stone regularly to keep blades sharp.
- Look after wooden handles and parts so they don't split. Oil wooden handles with linseed oil and mineral turpentine. Sand down any rough edges to remove splinters.
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