Welcome to the another edition of “What Would You Do?”! If you have a question and would like to know what others would do please contact me and I’ll keep it in mind for future editions of “What Would You Do?”. To see previous versions, check out the What Would You Do? archives here.
Today I have a question I think many people run into at many points in their lives. Should I spend money to save money? I’m not talking about buying something I don’t need to save money. I’m not the type of person to buy a shirt because it is 50% off even though Ialready have 25 other shirts.
Instead, I’m talking about making a couple changes to our house that will save us money down the road. These aren’t phantom savings because no matter what, I’ll have to incur these costs as long as I own the home. Instead of continuing to incur these costs as I am now, if I make a couple changes, I can dramatically lower these costs over the coming years! So what improvements am I considering?
Should I Buy a Heat Pump Water Heater?
Your first question probably has something to do with what a heat pump water heater is. Valid question, as I hadn’t heard of them until my home inspector mentioned them when we bought our house. Basically, a heat pump water heater works like an air conditioner heat pump would to heat your house in the winter. It takes heat out of the air and puts it into the water (rather than heating your house).
They’re the same size as a regular water heater but they’re much more efficient (hint: they use much less electricity). Did you know that besides heating and cooling your home, your water heater is the second biggest user of electricity?
The only addition is a drain line to take the condensation the heat pump makes out of the water heater area, much like an air conditioner has a drain line. There is one awesome side effect that a heat pump water heater provides. It will air condition my garage for me. How sweet is an air conditioned garage in the hot Florida summers? Pretty sweet.
Until the end of May, Lowe’s has a sale on heat pump water heaters for $1,000 ($200 off normal price). Before you freak out and say I’ll never recoup the cost I have some awesome news! My power company will give me a $700 rebate if I have a heat pump water heater installed. In addition to that, the federal government will give me a $300 energy efficiency tax rebate! Basically, I only have to pay $60-70 dollars in sales tax and for someone to install the heat pump water heater, which costs about the same as a regular water heater install.
I will have to front the money for the water heater and pay for the sales tax and install, but the savings for the energy efficiency should pay for the costs in 1 to 2 years max. My home inspector also mentioned I’d likely have to replace the water heater in the next 5 or so years so I’d have to eventually pay to have it replaced. It would lose the rest of the water heater’s useful life, but I’ll gain energy efficiency to pay for that loss.
What would you do? Would you get the heat pump water heater if you were me?
Should I Pay For an Irrigation Water Meter?
The other issue I have has to deal with water as well, just in a different sense. Where I live I can’t get well water for my sprinkler system so I unfortunately have to use city water. Currently I only have one water meter for our house which means the city can’t tell the difference between water I use in my house and water I use for my lawn. Why does it matter?
My city charges us for both water and sewage. Their are no sewer meters so they assume any water we use goes in the sewer. The problem with this line of thought is that the water I use for my sprinkler system doesn’t go through the sewer and I’m paying for it as if it does. Now I haven’t had a water bill yet that has included a lot of sprinkler system use, but the summers get hot here and sprinkler systems use a TON of water.
The problem I’m facing is whether or not I should pay for the city to install a second water meter just for my sprinkler system. The city said it shouldn’t cost more than $400, but $400 isn’t chump change. It could be less, but they won’t know until they come out. I’ll definitely save enough money to cover the cost eventually, but I don’t know if it will be one summer more like 3 years. I just don’t have the data. My neighbors said theirs paid for it self very quickly and they have a yard that is similar to mine in size.
I should mention that watering the yard isn’t really an option. If it doesn’t rain a lot we have to water to keep our yard up. I live in a neighborhood with an homeowner’s association so we have to keep our yards to a certain standard. I used to be against homeowners associations, but after seeing some of the neighborhoods around my area, we definitely don’t mind paying a small amount quarterly to keep our neighborhood and house values nice.
Would you wait and see how much money you’d potentially save each month, or would you go ahead and get on the list for the city to install an irrigation water meter? I know I’ll recoup the cost eventually, but I don’t know how fast.
So there you have it! Two water related questions in one What Would You Do? Both have the potential to save me a lot of money over the many years we’ll be living in our new home! What would you do?