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Monday, April 18, 2011

A $3 Tip to Stop Squabbles About Water Usage

A $3 Tip to Stop Squabbles About Water Usage
Article From HouseLogic.com By: Nicolette Toussaint
Photo: Flickr CC License: D.H.Parks
Confession time: my husband, Mason, and I have been known to squabble over the kitchen faucet. He likes to leave it running while he cleans up, while I fret about wasting water.
My HouseLogic colleague Lara tells me she was cleaning up after a dinner party when a guest scolded her for the same behavior. And my interior design friend Pam, who lives in southern California, says, "We have this 'discussion' often at my house. It's usually the ones who are paying the water bill against the ones who aren't."

There are tech fixes  large and small for this human foible. For example, I could buy a smart tap with a touch sensor  or a motion detector. There are a host of handsome smart taps, priced from $150 to over $1,000, but these electronic marvels have a downside: Because they need juice from my home electrical system to run, they will be using energy to save water--not necessarily a green choice--and they won't work during a power outage.

This choice is even less green if the problem lies not with the tap, but with the user, and that's usually the case. (My daughter-in-law Erin says there's just no way she's going keep turning that tap on and off--her hands are full, for heaven's sake.)

While a faucet with a motion sensor would solve her problem, I don't think it's right for me. When I choose to replace something that "ain't broke" with something new, I'm not only junking the metal and other materials in the tap, I'm also wasting all the energy spent to manufacture and ship the tap. That's not smart.

A better tech fix--short of turning the water off--would be to install an aerator. This handy gadget, which will fit into any faucet fitted with screw-in threads, saves water without reducing water pressure. You can buy an aerator at a hardware or home improvement store for less than $3. The flow rate you'll achieve with it, measured in gallons per minute (gpm), will be inscribed along the side.

Does all this matter? Doesn't the water coming out of a single kitchen faucet add up to just a drop in the ocean, metaphorically speaking? Not really. You'd be surprised at how much water our daily tasks use.

Try out this calculator the U.S. Geological Survey put together for schools. I tried it, and found that one faucet leaking 10 drips a minute wastes enough water for six baths. So imagine how much water is going down the drain while running the kitchen faucet during cleanup.

Who's going to give Lara, Mason, Pam, and Erin the bad news?

Have you had this debate at your house? Have you solved this problem, short of recycling family members? What water saving tips or tricks do you have to share? Let's hear from you.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

How to Buy a Dryer

How to Buy a Dryer
Article From HouseLogic.com By: Douglas Trattner
Photo: Flickr CC License: homespot hq


When deciding on a new clothes dryer, here's what you'll need to know about features, style, price, and performance.
Essentially a box with a heater and fan, a clothes dryers is a surprisingly uncomplicated machine. But that doesn't mean that purchasing one is equally straightforward. Despite the fact that every dryer sold today reliably dries clothes, there's great range in terms of price, design, and features. The good news is that there's often little difference in terms of performance.
Because there isn't much disparity in energy consumption among dryers, these appliances aren't required to bear Energy Guide labels, nor are they included in the Energy Star program.

Cost range: $280-$1,200 and up

Likely additional costs: Delivery, installation, haul away, gas line hookup, or 220-volt electrical outlet installation if none exists

Average life span: 12-18 years

Gas or electric: The heat that dryers generate to dry clothes comes either from an electrical heating element or a gas-fired burner. As is the case with ranges and cooktops, home setups often dictate which to purchase. Although roughly $80 more than identical electric models, gas dryers can trim as much as 50% off operating costs, depending on the price of natural gas in your area, according to the Consumer Energy Center.

In addition to a gas line, gas dryers require a standard 110-volt electrical outlet. An electric dryer, however, requires a dedicated 220-volt outlet.

Appearance: Most customers select a particular model clothes dryer not for its performance, but for its appearance, says Lenny Kaminski, sales manager at B & B Appliances, an 85-year-old retail outlet in Cleveland. Simply put, many homeowners want their dryer to match their washer.

To match the shape and style of a modern energy-efficient front load washer, expect to pay at least $650. Designer colors have reached the laundry room, with vivid reds, blues, and metallic finishes available as options. To purchase a dryer in shades other than white, beige or bisque, plan on spending $600 and up.

Size and capacity: The standard width of a clothes dryer is 27 to 29 inches. Trimmer models are available for compact spaces. Drum capacity is measured in cubic feet, with most models ranging from 5.5 to 7. Higher-end models stretch up to 8 cubic feet, but experts say that much of that room is wasted. Look for one with about twice the capacity of your clothes washer.

Variable settings for time and temperature: Shoppers need not pay extra for a machine with multiple temperature settings--even the most basic models have low, medium, and high. The same is true for timed dry sessions. As shoppers move up the product ladder (starting around $350), additional options such as no-heat "air fluff" for delicates and heavy duty for jeans start to appear.
The same is true for models with "wrinkle shield," a feature that intermittently tumbles the clothes following a dry cycle to prevent wrinkles. Pricier machines have double the settings, but most are rarely used.

Moisture sensor: A dryer is one of the biggest energy hogs in the house, a fact made worse when these appliances run longer than necessary. Dryers with moisture sensors in the drum automatically shut off when the clothing is dry, trimming about 15% in operating costs, according to the Consumer Energy Center. The good news is that this feature is pretty much standard on all modern machines. Make sure to look for it.

Removable dryer rack: Dryer racks protect hats, sneakers, and other delicate items from getting knocked about by suspending them above the drum for tumble-free drying. The feature typically is unavailable on machines under $450. Says Kaminski: "People don't wind up using them as much as they thought they would."

Noise dampening: Depending on where the dryer sits in the house, this feature can be quite valuable. For dryers positioned near living areas and bedrooms, the extra money spent for noise reduction is easily justified. Quiet dryers, which start around $600, contain special sound-dampening materials on the top and sides of the appliance.

Steam: Shoppers comfortable spending at least $900 on a clothes dryer can opt for one with steam technology, a feature designed to remove wrinkles and odors. Some steam-equipped dryers require a water hookup, while others rely on a reservoir that the homeowner fills manually. Cost-conscious consumers claim to achieve similar results by adding a damp washcloth to a wrinkled load.

Stainless steel drum: Unlike ceramic-coated steel drums, stainless steel ones stay free of nicks and scratches caused by metal zippers, buttons, and rivets. Additionally, stainless drums will remain rust-free, preventing wet clothes from becoming stained. Clothes dryers with stainless drums start appearing in the $500 range.

Expected maintenance/repairs: Lint trays should be cleaned before every load. Vent hoses and exhaust lines should be cleaned and inspected once a year. The drive belt that turns the drum may wear out and snap, necessitating replacement. The electric heating element can burn out, requiring a $125 replacement part plus labor. Digital control panels, while reasonably reliable, can cost up to $250 plus labor to repair.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
Blogspot - Pinterest - Twitter - Facebook - Google+