The Newton city council approved a bill that would put restrictions on leaf blowers for businesses and even home owners. This bill doesn't effect my gutter cleaning business, after all, the leaf blower I use is under 65 decibels. If leaf blowers were banned altogether, I would definitely need to raise my prices. I know of local landscapers that aren't happy about these new restrictions, and they must have good reasons for their unhappiness. I have also talked to home owners in Newton MA that aren't thrilled about the bill it either.
Supply and demand
As when there is a surplus of a product the price goes down, when there is a shortage of a product the price naturally goes up. This economic law holds just as true for services.
Here are three restrictions that will cause prices to go up.
1) The loss of daily work hours
One of the new restrictions, is the hours of operation for leaf blower use. Gas blowers use will now be allowed from 7AM to 5PM. Most landscapers that I have seen start earlier than 7AM and stop later than 5PM. If you combine this loss of work time year round, it adds up to a lot. This will be a big sacrifice, especially in the fall when the days are shorter. Also, leaf blowers are prohibited on Sundays and holidays.
2)A summer ban
A further restriction is that all gas blowers will be prohibited for the entire summer. The summer can be the busiest season of the year for landscapers, and they will be reduced to a single electric leaf blower to clean up. Other members of the crew will have to use rakes which compared to a leaf blower, is very time consuming.
3)A 65 decibel maximum
If the 65 decibels or quieter rule is enforced, this will cause a major loss in productivity. If you take a leaf blower that has 65 decibels and have a leaf blower with only 10 decibels more you can actually double the output. Lowering just 10 decibels can mean a great loss in power. This loss in power will result in the job taking longer. (More about decibels below)
Most likely where leaf blowers are used less and hand rakes are used more, the price of service will have to climb while the actual quality of the work will have to fall.
The Decibel Scale
Believe it or not the perceived loudness of something cannot be judged objectively. Sound can be a subjective phenomenon that's why there is the decibel scale. With the 10 decibels example I used above, you can add double the power with just a 10 decibel increase, but unfortunately that 10 decibels will make the leaf blower twice as loud! Yes, leaf blowers can be loud and annoying. a 70 (dB) will sound twice as loud as a blower rated at 60 (dB). This is because the (dB) scale used is a logarithmic scale, rather than a linear one. Does this mean that if you run 10 leaf blowers at the same time, it will be a really loud 600 decibels? No, 10 leaf blowers running together will only be 70 decibels! Of course, these decibels are also diminished by distance so no need to worry about hearing loss. The farther away you are from a running leaf blower, the less the decibels.
Electric or gas?
Is it better to use an electric leaf blower over a fumy gas model? After all the gas powered is noisy and smelly. Why not use an electric, it doesn't produce any emissions. The problem is that in order to obtain the electricity necessary to charge these batteries, pollution must be created. I believe solar energy is the future, but for now very little of our electricity in Massachusetts comes from renewable energy. That means if you aren't creating emissions from burning gas, you are from the plants that create the electricity.
Using a leaf blower for gutter cleanings
I would hate to have leaf blowers completely banned, because I wouldn't be able to service as many customers. Also I would have to increase my prices while not doing as good of a job. My leaf blower works well with every step of cleaning out gutters, unless the gutters are wet. It is even effective at cleaning out the downspouts. At the same time, I know it is a loud disturbance so I try to keep its use at a minimum. I usually shut down my blower when I re-position my ladder, and I never leave it running when not in use.
Hopefully local landscapers will progress and adapt to handle these new restrictions so that they can stay profitable, while still keeping their customers happy.