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How to Save Money on New House
June 14, 2017
5:25 am
JustMe2016
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Always buy the hot water tank (instead of renting) SOON after taking possession of your newly built house. It will save you thousands of dollars. (And upgrade to the 80 gal instead of the default 50 gal).

EDIT: Of course it is nice to hear your ways to save money with older houses, but I want to point out that when I made this thread, I was thinking about people who buy a newly built house. Although you might still be better off to buy your HWT when buying an old house. You'll have to do the math.

June 14, 2017
8:50 am
Brimleychen
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If you read a lot of home maintenance / improvement advice, most of them want you to spend first so that you will save in the future, especially those so-called energy efficiency improvement with government rebates. You may also be sold with the idea of value appreciation after improvement.

My advice is : refrain yourself from any of money spending advice. Don't do any improvement first. When something breaks, just fix it. Don't Confuse a Repair with an Improvement.

After a while, you are sure know what to fix and improve, and that will be your own maintenance checklist, and project.

How about this?
1 install a clothesline in your back yard and hang most of your clothes to dry outside;
2. lower the temperature on your hot water heater down, especial during summer;
3. caulking and weatherstripping to air-seal your home;
4. don't subscribe to your home phone, cable monthly;
5. reduce your garbage size (at least in Toronto)
5. install a rain water barrel if you need water your garden;
6. setup your own compost bin if you want to grow your garden;
6. plant fruit trees and vegetables instead of flowers and grasses;
....

June 14, 2017
9:25 am
Koogie
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JustMe2016 said
Always buy the hot water tank (instead of renting) SOON after taking possession of your new house. It will save you thousands of dollars. (And upgrade to the 80 gal instead of the default 50 gal).  

Wouldn't that depend on how long you are going to live there and the relative prices of rented and purchased tanks ?

June 14, 2017
9:50 am
JustMe2016
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Koogie said

Wouldn't that depend on how long you are going to live there and the relative prices of rented and purchased tanks ?  

Of course it does, and the math is very easy to do. Btw, most people who have a house built will usually stay there long enough to justify buying the HWT and saving money.

10 years ago when I had my house built, there was no choice, the HWT could only be rented. Only after taking possession of the house, then you could buy it. I bought it for $1100 a year after taking possession. At the time the monthly rental was around $33. So after 34 months the tank was 'paid'. And I hear the rental is now around $45/month. Over the last 6 years since the tank paid itself, I have saved between $2376 and $3168. And my 80 gal tank will most likely lasts for another 5 to 10 years at no additional cost.

So in the end I could save myself more than $5K and the cost of replacing a tank is around $1K. No matter what I'm ahead of the game by thousand of dollars.

It makes a lot of sense to buy the tank in your brand new house. In particular since (good quality) HWT are usually trouble free.

June 14, 2017
12:10 pm
dangga00
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We have just purchased a stacked town house, and are scheduled to take possession in a few weeks.
The house inspector informed us that water heater is over its "serviceable" life span and recommends we change it immediately (it's approx 13 years old), and so we were able to get $1,000 off of the purchase price.
We have been informed it's wise to replace it before something bad happens, would you agree?
We were also informed by a few friends that possible savings from a high efficiency heater isn't worth the extra price.
Thank you.

June 14, 2017
1:56 pm
JustMe2016
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dangga00 said
We have just purchased a stacked town house, and are scheduled to take possession in a few weeks.
The house inspector informed us that water heater is over its "serviceable" life span and recommends we change it immediately (it's approx 13 years old), and so we were able to get $1,000 off of the purchase price.
We have been informed it's wise to replace it before something bad happens, would you agree?
We were also informed by a few friends that possible savings from a high efficiency heater isn't worth the extra price.
Thank you.  

Based on what you wrote I'm not sure if you have already purchased the new HWT?

Should I assume you have a power vent natural gas water heater and not an electric one???

How long a water heater will last depends primarily (I assume you are living in the city with water from the city and not hard water from a well) on how many times it cycles on and off. IOW, if you have a family of 4 (2 kids below 14) and a 50 gallons tank; life expectancy could be in the 10-15 years. But a household of 2 adults with an 80 gal tank can easily last more than 20 years.

The worst that will happen is that your tank will stop working and you will be without hot water for at most a few days. If you can live with that, then there is no need to change it now.

Could you give me a concrete example of what you have in mind by a high efficiency heater?

The brand matters a great deal. For example, White Rodgers is a very good water heater.

June 15, 2017
3:34 am
Loonie
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Re: water heaters. The worst that will happen, actually, is that the thing will spring a leak and you'll have water in your basement.

Unfortunately, these days, since they invented more "energy efficiency", pretty well everything in major appliances lasts about 10 years, no matter what.

My contrarian advice is that if you have an old appliance (perhaps with the exception of water heaters because of the leakage issue, which is a pain if it happens), keep it until it quits.

My experience is that the old stuff works better and longer.

When we sold my father's house in 2011, it still had the original oil burning furnace, over 60 years old. It was not efficient, and, if it were my house, I would probably have replaced it. But the insurance company was practically hysterical simply because it was old. It passed all the tests; there was nothing wrong with it. He also had an old fridge which he kept running in the basement, the kind with the rounded top and the tiny freezer inside the big door. It wasn't quite as old as the furnace, but probably 1950s. Nobody would really want it any more because you had to manually defrost the small freezer, which was not well enough insulated to do a great freezing job. But the point is that it worked fine. It weighed a ton and it undoubtedly used too much power, but it probably would have worked another 20 years.

Those are extreme situations, perhaps, but I see the same sort of thing happening with my own house. I have two freezers. One is small, over 30 years old, works fine, has never had a problem, no-name brand, bought cheap at Honest Ed's and has moved house a few times. The second was bought about 4 years ago, name brand, a replacement for one I'd bought about 15 20 years previous which had died, large, completely unreliable; freezing is uneven, thaw cycles are such that a lot of things actually thaw out. I'm sure the second one will be dead within 10 years of purchase if I don't throw it out first. Junk. but, yeah, it's more "efficient".
Not very efficient when you factor in how it doesn't do the job and you have to throw out food and you have to replace it at least every 10 years. We've kept the old one because -well - it works - and we have a reliable place to store the most sensitive items every time the new one lets us down.

Last year I replaced my gas furnace. It was 29 years old and it was still working fine, passed its tests every year. The only reason we replaced it was because we thought we were pushing our luck at 30 years and didn't want to end up with an emergency in January when all the contractors were over-extended. And we could afford to make that choice. However, the gas company had been sending us hysterical letters with lots of red ink several times a year, and phoning us, for at least 10 years, dire warnings which suggested that if we didn't buy a new furnace immediately (from them, of course), we might all be soon dead. In fact they are still sending them, because they don't seem to have noticed that we got a new furnace - we hired an independent family business instead. Funny how we never hear a peep out of them about our rental water heater. They are less eager to replace that.

Think carefully before you replace anything that doesn't really need to be replaced. The savings you will get on "efficiency" may be eaten up by the costs of early replacement and poor performance of task. Everyone has to make their own decisions and calculations on these issues. For myself, I have come to the unhappy conclusion that a lot of what is called "efficiency" is really better named "sales". When the idea of building more efficient appliances to save electricity first came out, I was very interested and looked forward to the savings I would get when old appliances wore out and were replaced (I could never bring myself to buy new stuff just for the sake of it), but experience has soured me on all but the LED bulbs, which are great! They knew perfectly well when they started building these things that they wouldn't last, but the pressure was there to sell more stuff, make it run on less power, and to promote it as being more "efficient".

One other thing about water heaters.. If I were buying a new house and thinking long term about water heating, I would not be looking for a tank in the basement. I am not sure what they are called, but you can get a new kind where there is a small water heater in the bathroom or whatever which is above the sink (details may vary considerably on this as I don't have one, have only seen them elsewhere). The set-up probably costs more andnot all houses will accommodate, I'm not sure. But these things really work! I wish I knew more about them, but the ones I've seen overseas only heat the water as it is being used, so you are not heating up a whole tank of stagnant water and then paying to keep it hot all day when you're not using it. I can only say that the ones I've seen overseas were excellent. Worth looking into anyway. Remember too that in a stacked house it takes even longer for the water to reach the top floor and you are wasting water while you wait for the hot water to make it all the way up, every time.

If you are going to get a tank in the basement, I wouldn't get any bigger one than you actually need. If there are only two of you, and you don't expect more to join you, then surely the smaller one would be good enough? Why pay to keep extra water hot all the time? Just make sure you drain out the bottom of the tank every so often. Sludge/sediment accumulates there and interferes with the efficiency and longevity of the unit. Make sure you buy one that can be drained and have them show you how to do it before you buy it or at the very least when they install it.

June 15, 2017
4:33 am
Twotons
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Power vented tanks are not necessary in most applications and they just add another expensive component that can fail prematurely.

I'm not sure if it's just my insurance company or if it's becoming the norm, but I received a notice that my policy will not cover water damage from my tank on my next renewal unless I change it. The insurance co. Instituted a 6 year max life on water tanks for insurance purposes.

June 15, 2017
7:00 am
JustMe2016
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Twotons said
Power vented tanks are not necessary in most applications and they just add another expensive component that can fail prematurely.

I'm not sure if it's just my insurance company or if it's becoming the norm, but I received a notice that my policy will not cover water damage from my tank on my next renewal unless I change it. The insurance co. Instituted a 6 year max life on water tanks for insurance purposes.  

Water tanks from premium company like the one I mentioned in an earlier post are made to last.

My advice to you is shop around for your insurance. I was with Wawanesa and now with Traveler's and neither have EVER bugged me about my water tank. Honestly, I would tell them to F O if ever they were to say a word about my water tank or furnace.

My water tank is 10 years old and I will be keeping it until it dies. I might even look into fixing it when it will break down. After all, the hardware is pretty simple on those things. Though, to be honest, even if it would be cheaper to fix than to replace, I would probably replace it so I don't have all that crap that accumulated at the bottom of the tank and can't get rid of**. Really ugly that stuff at the bottom. Makes you think twice about using hot water from your tank to drink.

Definitely, contact other insurance companies as this 6 year limit is insane as far as I'm concerned.

** I wanted to see how much crap at the bottom of my tank. So I completely removed the drain valve and inserted one of those tiny camera inside the opening where the drain valve goes to. Really disgusting stuff.

June 15, 2017
9:39 am
SavingIsGood
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Twotons said
Power vented tanks are not necessary in most applications and they just add another expensive component that can fail prematurely.

I'm not sure if it's just my insurance company or if it's becoming the norm, but I received a notice that my policy will not cover water damage from my tank on my next renewal unless I change it. The insurance co. Instituted a 6 year max life on water tanks for insurance purposes.  

Why do you say that power water tanks are not necessary in most applications? You need difference in air pressure in order for remove fumes. Power venting 'simulates' chimney - forces exhaust out of house. Difference between water tank exhaust and pipe running out of house is about 1 meter. No way fumes will be going out by themselves in my case thus I need power vent.
I could install long pipe going up to the roof but most likely I will break 1000 by-laws, get fined, etc.
Yes, I miss chimney to burn all that junk mail but all new development (last 20-30 years) are chimney-less...

June 15, 2017
10:00 am
SavingIsGood
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Brimleychen said

How about this?
1 install a clothesline in your back yard and hang most of your clothes to dry outside;
2. lower the temperature on your hot water heater down, especial during summer;
3. caulking and weatherstripping to air-seal your home;
4. don't subscribe to your home phone, cable monthly;
5. reduce your garbage size (at least in Toronto)
5. install a rain water barrel if you need water your garden;
6. setup your own compost bin if you want to grow your garden;
6. plant fruit trees and vegetables instead of flowers and grasses;
....  

1. Clothesline are not very useful, look awful and you need big area for them. I use drying rack (from IKEA, bought years ago but IKEA discontinued it) with 4 levels; in winter it moisture air; in summer all my washing gets healthy dose of sun and smells very fresh. I did not use dryer in last 20 years...
2. Already lowered to about 50 Celsius.
3. Done.
4. Have no cable or any other brainwashing device. Nope, I do not watch live broadcast at all. There are SOOOO many interesting things in life to do than being couch potato...
5a. N/A
5b. Kind of good idea but problem will be mosquito even with screen over the barrel.
6a. Good idea. But I prefer to get into woods to get fresh soil. It smells fantastic.
6b. Flowers are good for mood and soul. Tried growing veggies; too much work, too much water. If I had big land I would do it but in backyard it is not worth the effort. And no, I do not have grass; killed it all and replaced with nice planters, rock garden, pine trees. Only grass I have to take care of is on municipality land between sidewalk and street. And even that I am trying slowly to kill planting some creeping stuff.

7. Install energy saving light bulbs. LED are good but CFL are doing the job, too.
8. Remove and control phantom electricity wasters. Only thing staying on 24/7 is answering machine and door bell. OK, microwave and stove... Computers are on power bar, stereo & TV too. My front loading washing machine (AEG) consumed 11W when not working and 'officially' being turned off. Amazing. Made a switch for it so now it is on only while doing actual washing.

June 15, 2017
11:15 am
Loonie
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Re: sludge at bottom of tank. If you drain it out regularly, it won't accumulate much. Also, don't use hot water faucet for consumption purposes. I was told this many years ago but didn't know the reason until later. It's better to start with cold water and boil the kettle even though it will cost you a few pennies. I suppose, alternatively, you could get one of those water filters that attaches to the kitchen faucet, as long as it filters both hot and cold.

June 15, 2017
2:00 pm
JustMe2016
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Loonie said
Re: sludge at bottom of tank. If you drain it out regularly, it won't accumulate much. Also, don't use hot water faucet for consumption purposes. I was told this many years ago but didn't know the reason until later. It's better to start with cold water and boil the kettle even though it will cost you a few pennies. I suppose, alternatively, you could get one of those water filters that attaches to the kitchen faucet, as long as it filters both hot and cold.  

I'm telling you, you would be scared if you were to see the crap at the bottom. No draining will do anything about it. It is a kind of semi-hard rust color crap and quite thick. No draining will do anything. Btw, I drained the WHOLE tank twice and it does nothing about it.

I've always used a kettle or the MW oven. But once every few months, I will use the tap hot water. Big mistake, LOL!!!

When I'll change the tank, many years from now, I will keep the old one (the current one) and cut it open so I can examine it. It will be a 'fun' job as it is all metal and donut shape from top to bottom. White Rodgers tank are high quality.

June 15, 2017
4:37 pm
MG
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Loonie said

My experience is that the old stuff works better and longer.

  

Couldn't agree with you more Loonie! I bought a new refrigerator awhile back and within a year, the top was sagging. I guess that the metal they now use is so thin that it can't even hold its shape.

I am currently in the market for a new gas stove. The one I inherited when I bought my house last year is missing the glass cover on the oven door (smashed by previous owner) and the oven is so dirty that I can't bear to clean it, let alone use it. In my online searches, I am finding horrific reviews of virtually all new brands of gas stoves, even the extremely expensive ones. It seems that all the parts are now made in a country in Asia 😉 and break down continually. Even the plastic knobs melt when you open the oven door - yikes! Not quite sure what I will do...sf-confused

June 15, 2017
5:55 pm
Twotons
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JustMe2016 said

Water tanks from premium company like the one I mentioned in an earlier post are made to last.

My advice to you is shop around for your insurance. I was with Wawanesa and now with Traveler's and neither have EVER bugged me about my water tank. Honestly, I would tell them to F O if ever they were to say a word about my water tank or furnace.

It's just a numbers game...about $800 for new tank all in versus insurance cost increase with other company over 6 years...I'm still likely a few hundred a year cheaper with my current insurance co. (I shop insurance every year)..although I'm not to fussed changing it this year as it's nearly 18 years old.

June 15, 2017
6:08 pm
Twotons
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SavingIsGood said
Why do you say that power water tanks are not necessary in most applications?

My bad...the OP did state switching out the tank from a newly built home. I was thinking of homes pre 2010 ie 8 year or older tanks, when mid efficiency furnaces were still being installed and thus, likely to have sufficient venting available.

June 15, 2017
9:47 pm
Loonie
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JustMe - after you've completed the autopsy, you should be able to get a few bucks for the old tank at a scrapyard if you have a suitable vehicle to transport it. I know that not everyone would want to bother, but you seem very frugal.

My own experience is that if you drain it every month or so, the crud doesn't build up the same way. Perhaps you'll be able to keep on top of it with the next one. I hope so.

Re: gas stoves. The old ones basically run forever and are much more durable than electric ones. I have one that is at least 50 years old. All burners work and the oven heat is as even as any.
I had to go to a plumbing supply store once for a part, but I got it. that's all I've done to it in 30 years. It's kind of ugly and I know I should replace it but I'm very reluctant.

However, it's sometimes worth looking in used appliance stores. I assume they still exist? Or you can get them at estate sales or whatever. It would probably take a bit of work or you'd have to get lucky to find something durable. In the last 30 years I have bought two washing machines. I bought both of them at used appliance stores. The first cost 200 and I think the second was about 400 (a front loader). Who really cares what they look like in the basement? I've probably had the second one about 10 years or so and it works fine and has never needed a repair. I just couldn't justify buying a new one. I think 600 is a pretty good price for 30 years (and counting) of washing machine service. This may be harder to do today, as there is so much garbage out there, but it depends on what you find. There are people out there who change their entire kitchens every so many eyas and they dump the appliances.

If I have to buy new, I look first at the warranty and then at the manufacturer's solidity as a business (as best as I can tell). I go for the best warranty. Whatever else they say about how great the machine is or its unique features is irrelevant. Fancy features are useless if the thing doesn't work.

I haven't bought any large appliances since the above-mentioned disastrous freezer (Frigidaire) and last year's furnace and AC. We did recently buy a heavy duty blender through Costco. I figure they'll still be around to honour the warranty, and all you have to do is take it in to Costco and they give you a new one, or so I'm told. The unit is specially made to Costco specifications. Nothing wrong with the old 1960s Braun blender (which weighs a ton) but I'm having trouble getting the sealing rings for it, which need replacement every few years. Ordered a new lid from German ebay a couple of years ago; can't get them here any more either. I haven't thrown it out and will continue to keep an eye on German ebay for the rings.

I also like Cuisinart for customer service. Other people may have different experiences but mine has been excellent. First, they have 3 year warranties on most things where competitors only offer 1 year.
Second, I have an old food Cuisinart/Robot Coupe processor from the 1970s. It was one of the earliest models. A couple of years ago the plastic bowl broke - the plastic had weakened after so many years. I phoned their repair place which I think was in Woodbridge Ontario and they said they thought they could help me, so I took it in. I had to line up for about a half hour but then was helped by a very obliging technician who looked at it and said he could sell me a new bowl that would almost fit, and that if I was OK with letting him file down the plastic on the base, he could make it fit. I said yes, as I had nothing to lose and there was no fee for trying. He made it fit, so I bought the bowl, and have had no further problems. I couldn't have asked for more, and, frankly, was amazed that someone would even try to fix this problem on this old machine - which still has lots of life in it. Weighs a lot more than the new ones - full of metal parts. Weight is often a good criterion - assuming they haven't filled them with bits of salvaged iron!

June 16, 2017
12:23 pm
dangga00
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JustMe2016 said

Based on what you wrote I'm not sure if you have already purchased the new HWT?

Should I assume you have a power vent natural gas water heater and not an electric one???

How long a water heater will last depends primarily (I assume you are living in the city with water from the city and not hard water from a well) on how many times it cycles on and off. IOW, if you have a family of 4 (2 kids below 14) and a 50 gallons tank; life expectancy could be in the 10-15 years. But a household of 2 adults with an 80 gal tank can easily last more than 20 years.

The worst that will happen is that your tank will stop working and you will be without hot water for at most a few days. If you can live with that, then there is no need to change it now.

Could you give me a concrete example of what you have in mind by a high efficiency heater?

The brand matters a great deal. For example, White Rodgers is a very good water heater.  

JustMe2016 thanks for the info.
We have not bought a new hot water heater (we haven't even taken possession of the unit), but like advised by Loonie up on this thread, we have been advised by few home owners to look into replacing the hot water tank right away upon taking possession to avoid possible leak.
The house, we think, was previously occupied by owners (a couple with no kid), so thanks for the calculation on life expectancy.
To be honest, since we've not taken possession, we haven't been able to effectively shop for a replacement, so we don't know which high efficiency one can be used to replace the existing one, if any.
Since it's a condo stacked town house, we got a quote for a condo insurance. The broker said, "leak from hot water heater tank would be covered under the policy as long as it is a sudden leak and not an ongoing leak that should have been repaired."
He didn't even check the age of the hot water heater or anything when finalizing our quote.

Lots of great info here for first time home buyers, thank you!

June 19, 2017
8:53 am
SavingIsGood
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I would not full around with used GAS stoves/ovens. Top burners are not an issue but oven gas switch could be - major one.
If it fails during night unless you smell it you will find yourself in heaven. It is small box which opens/closes gas supply when you use oven.
I would NEVER buy used Gas stove/oven. I currently have GE profile with glass touch keyboard. Used to have Amana (where oven gas switch failed). Yes, I could replace switch for $150 or so but Amana had plastic - non responsive keyboard which started cracking, display become dim, had a space between grates, etc.
Your life is worth more (I hope) than $200 spend on used gas appliance.

June 19, 2017
8:54 pm
Loonie
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Just wondering...
How do you know that your newish gas stove is less likely to give you serious problems than a used one?
How old was your Amana when this crucial part failed?

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