Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Twenty-Six Point Two

Give up? Maybe you should check out this water heater and see what it means. Fuel usage? Cost? Size? Some strange puzzle based on the bizarre and random thinkings of the post author?

The Marathon hot water heater by Rheem is one of the most efficient tank heaters on the market. We appreciate that it comes as an electric unit. Since electric heat is practically 100% efficient, it makes sense that an electric tank water heater should be up there. The biggest problem with tanks is their standby losses. Leave home for a week and the tank will happily use your utilities to keep the water warm for you the whole time. With efficiencies as high as 94% it is touted that water in the Marathon will stay hot for up to 2 weeks. Awe. Some.

Another interesting player in the game is the Ruud heat pump water heater. Quite a mouthful. This unit combines both technologies into one device and claims an efficiency of 200%. This really shouldn't surprise you if you understand how heat pumps work. Some of the best heat pumps are currently 350% efficient. This water heater works like a refrigerator in reverse. Rather than spit out heat, it grabs it from the air and heats the water with it. We think it would make perfect sense to install one of these next to a fridge and let them work in tandem. Your fridge might appreciate the heat transfer.

We do not own stock in, get money from, or have beers with the representatives of either of these companies. We just think their products are ubercool and we would install them in our own homes. The only thing stopping us is the money that we would get from you buying one of our plans. Of course, istockhouseplans would be happy to specify any water heater you like including a black rubber bladder sitting in the sun. It's your house after all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Where Energy Efficiency Counts

Think you know how to save energy? Test yourself. Are the following measures efficient? (Is the payback period or energy savings worth the cost?):

Yearly furnace tune-ups: Y N
Properly sized furnace: Y N
Sealing basement ducts: Y N
Underfloor insulation: Y N
Caulking & weatherstripping: Y N
Window replacement: Y N
Tankless gas water heaters: Y N
Attic cooling: Y N

Did you answer no to any of the questions?

You get 1 point for every 'no' and zero points for every 'yes'. We were a little blown away too. Michael Blasnik with the Department of Energy has found that these measures on average are worthless and merely feel good. You can read his article to get a complete explanation of why these measures don't add up as well as a few more.

We at istockhouseplans were a little disappointed to see real world results on the tankless gas heater. Maybe electric is still okay? We've been promoting these in our homes and not setting aside a specific space for a tank water heater. Most of our homes do have enough space to put a water heater tank, either in a large closet, under stairs, or in the laundry room. Next time we'll review a couple of tank heaters that we've found to be very efficient.

Also check out our istock4kids page where we've put two more puzzles to delight and entertain.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Small Bonus Post

Found this in The Daily Oregonian from Portland, Oregon:

"I think there are two significant movements in the country," Chapin says. "One is that bigger is better; that's been the prevailing notion for the last 50 years. Another movement says small is beautiful.

"I think the first movement is moving toward its sunset, and the second is more on the rise."

Small Houses go Big-time