Friday, December 4, 2015

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Well, it's not quite like that but close.  We haven't had hot water since we moved in.  We are approaching three months.  Some days you're lucky and get a luke warm shower.  Other days, not so much.

We have a propane tank for the hot water heater and the stove.  Propane is expensive here, but not as much as electricity, which is currently (pardon the pun) about $0.45/kwh.  

I called prior to our arrival in Hilo to schedule a fill up of the tank.  Unfortunately, it would be eight days before Hawaii Gas could make it out to inspect the tank and appliances.  September was super hot, so if you didn't wait until too late in the evening, a cold shower was welcome...sort of.

We got our gas turned on the following week only to find out that the hot water heater had bit the dust.  It has two settings:  off and run until the gas tank is empty.  Sometimes it puts out luke warm water, but not often.  I have to boil water to do dishes (one of my best purchases to date was an electric kettle).

We tried to find someone knowledgeable about on demand gas hot water.  Tried for weeks.  We found one guy in Puna who operates out of the farmers market and uses unlicensed plumbers for installations.  I'm sure a lot of folks buy from him with great success, but due to the tricky installation under our house, I ultimately decided to go with a traditional style tank heater.

Off to Home Depot we went.  They stock two gas hot water heaters at our local store.  Both are warranted for only six years and neither are terribly efficient.  I elected to have one ordered, which takes six to eight weeks.  I ordered it at the end of October.  Hopefully, it will arrive soon.

I opted for one from Rheem's platinum line as the warranty is double compared to their low end line and the cost is virtually the same.  The heater is also wifi connected so I can control the off/on and temperature from my smart phone.  At average US prices, the heater I ordered costs about $600/yr to run.  We pay over $6 a gallon for propane, so our annual costs could be significantly higher than that.  I plan to shut mine off during the day and at night.  I will run it in the morning and in the evening and that's it.  Hot water heaters these days don't have pilot lights -- they have electronic ignition -- so I am hoping this plan will keep my annual cost comparatively low.  

I'll let you know when the water's hot, I know you won't want to visit before then!

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