Monday, December 01, 2008

Why Chez Sven Chose an Energy-Efficient Water Heater

The above photo shows yet another beautiful sunset over Wellfleet this afternoon ... As a green bed & breakfast, we opt for greener alternatives whenever possible. Our renovation last winter showed us that an innkeeper who prefers greener options must also have deep pockets and that sometimes dreams cannot translate into reality. Recently the water heater in Seagull Cottage died after almost two decades of faithful service. It was the type that keeps water in a tank at a specific heat. Whenever the temperature of the water fell, the system would turn on automatically, using energy. We could have replaced the tank with a similar model but chose a more energy-efficient system: the Rinnai 75LSi.
From the manual: "The Rinnai is one of the most advanced water heaters available. It provides a continuous supply of hot water at a preset temperature. There is no pilot light consuming gas while the heater in not being used." The Rinnai was installed by the gas company, which required six hours of labor, a gas permit, and an outlay of an initial $1300 for the beautiful machine itself. The first issue was pipe-sizing. These new heaters require ¾ inch piping, rather than ½. Since the cottage dates from 1970 and its laundry area was never renovated, we had to have an electrician install a new outlet and a Carbon Monoxide detector ($350). Once the new Rinnai was in, the plumber had to reconfigure the water pipes ($673). I understand why some businesses hesitate to adopt modern energy-efficient appliances when the bill ends up being three times as high!