Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What do you want,efficiency,or low cost,,or Green?

Energy factors are one thing, initial cost is yet another, and long term savings are often too deferred. Now "Green," there is a buzz word! I will set you straight on the uncertain choice of which is best. For today, I'll limit this to the subject of HOT WATER.

 First, I'll identify some products as potentially green, providing installation is done right and application is correct.

I will start with my favorite: solar hot water.  Many types of systems exist. If you live in a sunny region, then it is a no brainier look into Solar. Solar fraction is the nut to crack! (how much of your total need is provided by the sun)  Electric back up is often a good choice (electricity is generally more efficient than gas, but it costs more!).

If you have a new construction project your choices  are different than retrofitting an existing building.  Two water heaters  for a large spread out house will be better than one ( no circulation pump needed for instant hot water at distant fixture).  If the heat is solar (free) then heat loss is not an issue, but otherwise heat loss is an issue, and circulation pumps increase heat loss.    One form of Heat loss is from the surface area of  tank-type water heaters, that is the advantage tankless systems have over them.  Behavior is an issue in green success. For example, tankless systems can be green, but may end up using more gas to heat the endless showers that the users take - because they can!   Tankless units cost more to install and require flushing maintenance prolonging the pay back period.  Sometimes, the long term savings (pay back) is longer than the salesman says.  This goes for solar or anything else.  Regular tank type water heating either gas or electric is usually the cheapest, fastest deal, with no pay back. Although installed correctly, they can be "green" (the product itself isn't everything).

Heat pump water heating in some applications is the absolute best. Water heaters each have an efficiency rating. The higher the number the bette.r   GE makes a unit having an efficiency rating of 2.35!  Tankless water heaters are about .85 (less than half the efficiency).

This GE unit costs about as much as a tankless unit, uses electricity as a back up power, and requires a warm location to pull its heat from.  In return for taking the heat, it gives cold air as a by-product (free AC)! It dehumidifies as well.  If no sun and no gas are present this is a very good option.

Green is not just a buzz word, it is a means to a return on investment (ROI), usually taking longer than the cheapest quickest fix, but not always.  The heat pump I installed at Ramona Laund yer Mutt (a place people go to wash their dog)  was cheaper than solar or to install gas pipe to a gas water heater. "Green as hell" I say, and cheap too.  I expect a ROI in just two years.  Just plain smart, (green).  I have to say it again 2.35 energy factor!  And, most likely it will last 25 years,   leaving 20 plus years of free water heating.

Most importantly, a licensed Green Plumber USA installed this after evaluating options from an educated perspective. Heat requirements (load), budget, green product rebate, fuel available, and customers wishes were all in the choice.

So what do you want? Efficiency, low cost, or green?

Water on your Bill.

We get a bill, we pay it. If we know enough about it , we can call and object/correct an overcharge. We can see the charges on a credit card statement and admit to having bought the items, or see an error. We can't if we don't understand the statement. We can't budget or manage a statement that we don't understand. Do you understand your water bill ? I mean the specific charges, not just the over due amount! What if the price for gas at the filling station was as confusing as a water/sewer bill? Thinking you could get a better price up the street, you would learn the lingo and start shopping. Your water bill is "negotiable" did you know that? Yeah, you negotiate your behavior and fixtures and your bill reduces! It is all about YOU!

Your responsibility is to first understand the pie chart, so to speak, of the bill.
  • First is the "CCF" you might have, AKA one hundred cubic feet of water. Also 748 Gallons. 
  • The sewer fees may be per volume of water used, or a flat fee, or you may not have a sewer fee. (Approx. 21% of the USA uses a "Private Sewage Disposal System") AKA a septic system. 
  • Water use can be listed as "Gallons Per Day" or GPD. Often compared to "same time last month" or "last year at same time." 
Seasonal use is relevant. For example: outdoor water use can be 1/2 of the water bill, and "household" use be only 1/2 of the entire bill. This is a "seasonal use." Why waste money on a water bill that is "over charging" you! Get with the budget and start learning, because water bills are going UP.

Your water utility has a Conservation Department or person that will help you for free. That phone call is the first step in correcting your "over charges." Don't be a sucker (of water); be a responsible consumer and save the wasted money, so you can send me a tip in my Tip Jar at my Website.

Thank you for your concern about our water and your money.

Greg ,
A Licensed Green Plumber USA