Leaf blowers - namely gas leaf blowers - are among the most energy guzzling machines in our yards.
Make sure that you need a leaf blower. Consider as a first choice leaf rakes (or manual push leaf sweepers).
Rakes offer a petroleum-free alternative to leaf blowers.
Gas and propane leaf blowers
Gas leaf blowers are noisy and polluting. Propane leaf blowers are a better choice, but they are also noisy and very expensive.
To minimize the noise and emissions of gas and propane blowers, in the North America, prefer a unit compliant with the CARB/EPA 50-state emissions standards.The noise and the emission levels of leaf blowers have led some communities to ban or to limit the use of leaf blower. Noise limits are often set at 65 or 70 decibels.
Electric leaf blowers
Electric leaf blowers are intended for light-duty tasks, and are easy to use; they vibrate less and are relatively quiet; and there's no need to mix fuel or refill.
Be aware anyway. They aren't zero emission or as energy-efficient as many manufacturers claim. The electricity they use may come from polluting power plants and in this sense they are as harmful to the environment as other blowers. Besides, since they are mostly used for light-duty tasks, they can be advantageously replaced by leaf rakes.
Steel rakes should be a first option for environmentally-conscious homeowners.
Just pay attention to their design. Some newer models have improved designs, to lessen back fatigue; and they have a 24-inch head - an important detail to get a wider path.
A sturdy aluminum shaft (or other lightweight material) is also important for ease of use. Also prefer a steel tine unit (for durability) with a long handle for extended reach and a good working posture.
Leaf sweepers are another possible alternative to leaf blowers (they are designed to sweep and pick up leaves and cut grass).
Be aware, anyway. They may be ineffective. Push lawn sweepers have adjustable height settings, and may not be difficult to use, but they don’t work satisfactorily on hilly ground or with wet leafs.