Delaware Green Expo – Sat March 21

I still don’t see a schedule of events on their site however I just got an email with a link to the schedule. The Delaware Great Green Expo is this Saturday from 9am – 5pm. Check out my previous post for a $2 off coupon.

Stage Schedule

9:30AM – 10:00AM
Paul Hughes – Great Green Home Show

10:00AM – 10:45AM
Ed Begley Jr.

11:15AM – 12:15AM
Entertainment by: Todd Chappelle

1:00PM – 1:45PM
Ed Begley Jr.

2:00PM – 3:00PM
Entertainment by: The Sin City Band

3:00PM – 3:30PM
Thomas Niemann – Ford Motor Company

3:45PM – 4:15PM

Eco Friendly Hot Water Heater – AO Smith Vertex

picture-21Our cheapo hot water heater broke once last year and again this year.  It was only 6 years old however after battling with it more than 2x in a year I decided it was time to get a more energy efficient water heater.  I had initially thought about getting a tankless system as I thought they would be more energy efficient.  According to the specs they are around 80% efficient where standard units are around 75%. When I first started looking at systems, I thought “how ineffective to have 40-50 gallons of water sitting around being heated at all times”.  However after doing some research I realized a few  downsides to tankless systems:

  • You never get hot water w/o firing up the system
  • Tankless systems costs almost as much as the AO Smith but are only sightly better than tanks
  • Often you have to get multiple point of use tankless systems to supplement the whole house system

Here are some key features of the vertex:

  • 90% efficient
  • Up to 33% less NOx Emissions
  • Side mounted hot/cold taps for space heating / water heating applications (radiant floor heating)
  • Deliver endless hot water for showers

According to Consumer reports, this unit retails for around $1,400 and installation is around $500.  I found these number to be completely off in my area (Delaware).  I’m not sure if the price went up on this system recently due to the tax credit or if they priced it out in an area where it’s more readily available however I found the going price for this unit to be around $2,000 online.  As for installation, it can vary by installer.  I had one local company quote me $4,000 for this unit and they pretty much seemed annoyed when I called to get a price in the first place.  This company was actually on AO Smith’s website as a dealer for their product.  In the end, I wound up paying approx $3,200 with all the parts / labor.  That ends up being a $960 tax deduction for 2009 which makes it in the $2,200 price range.  Note, this number changed from my original estimated price as there were some additional parts needed to complete the job (ie expansion tank, 3″ pipe vs 2″ pipe, additional supplies / labor).

Installation is supposed to be just as easy as installing a regular hot water heater with a few exceptions.  The power vent needs to be vented through a wall instead of your chimney so you need to be able to run that to the outside.  The power vent also needs to be at least 4 feet away from any operating window.  In our case the vent is going to run through the laundry room (where the unit will be) in to our garage and out one of the walls of the garage.  Due to the distance from the unit, the plumber had to use 3″ PVC instead of 2″. Other than the powered vent, the system hooks up pretty much the same way as a standard unit. In all it took the plumber one day to install the unit and a few hours the next day to check it over / finish the job.

Based on CR’s numbers, they said payback would take approx 15 years however I don’t believe they accounted for the tax credit.  They also did not mention the decrease in NOx emmissions which in my book also makes this the only true green choice available in water heaters.

Online Shopping is Eco Friendly?

picture-7I just read a study that was released by Carnegie Mellon’s Green Design Institute that compared shopping at your local retailer vs online shopping. In this study they specifically compare the energy use and CO2 emissions associated with
delivering a flash drive from the manufacturer to a home via retail or e-commerce. Their study concluded that less energy and fewer CO2 emmissions were used buying online vs at a local store. I’d be interested to see if this study had any biases and if it would hold up against a variety of online e-comerce sites and their different distribution models.

Either way, I normally shop online as I can find better deals and avoid the crowds!

Eco Friendly Bathroom Remodel

While we wait for the mortgage refinance to go through, which may never happen, we’ve decided to update some things in our house.  One of the rooms in the most need of an update is our upstairs bathroom.  It has a very PINK tub and the original tile floor / walls. We are trying to find way to go green on this remodel but so far it has proven to be a bit dificult, at least from my initial online research.  I’ve been looking through many sites trying to find a vanity that is both environmentally friendly and not extremely over priced.

Here was the suggestion from eHow:
Look for wheatboard bathroom cabinets, which are typically made from wheat straw ad a nontoxic binder. Cabinets made from conventional particleboard and MDF can emit toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde. Cabinets made from supportive, harvested wood are another eco-friendly option.

So far my search for wheatboard bathroom cabinets has turned up very little.  I have been able to track down a few bamboo cabinets however I have only seen 4 or 5 different cabinets, none of which were within a reasonable price, in my opinion.  I’ll update the site with more information after I check out our local Home Depot to see what green options they have for bathroom vanities.

2nd Annual Green Expo Coming to Delaware

picture-16The 2nd annual Delaware Green Expo will be at the Chase Center on the Riverfront Saturday March 21st from 9am – 5pm. Admission is $7 per person (Kids under 12 are free). As always, I looked for and found a coupon for $2 off. Click through and print out the coupon below.

We went to this last year and got to meet Sara Snow.  This year, Ed Begley Jr. is the scheduled speaker.  As soon as I see a schedule of events online, I’ll post it here.

Remove Yourself from Unwanted Catalogs?

picture-6Last year I found out about, an online site that was supposed to get you removed from unwanted catalogs during our first ever Green Expo at the Wilmington Riverfront. As soons as I got my first unwanted catalog, which to me is pretty much every catalog, I created an account on their site and added the catalog. For the next few months as I got a new catalog in the mail, I got excited to get rid of yet another unwanted catalog. I even began trying to get companies to stop sending catalogs to me at work.

At one point during the process, I swear the catalog companies caught on and started sending the catalogs under different variations of my name and began sending different variations of their catalog. A few examples of this are:

  • I opted out of the Gaiam catalog, and began receiving the Gaiam Mindy Body Arts Catalog
  • I opted out of the Pottery Barn catalog and began receivng the Pottery Barn Kids Catalog
  • I opted out of a catalog using Kevin Kahn and then get another one in under Mr. Kevin Kahn

It has been over a year now and I am finally removed from a good number of catalogs that I opted out of. Somehow within the past year I have also see an influx of random catalogs I’ve been added to. Below is a list of catalogs I have been removed from and a list of catalogs that have specifically said they are refusing my request.  CatalogChoice does offer up the catalogs phone number so you can opt out via phone but I give these companies an F for

Companies not honoring requests from

  • Bike Nashbar
  • JC Penney
  • Lands End
  • PC Connection
  • The Lakeside Collection (one of the random catalogs we have been added to)

Companies Honoring Requests from

  • Back to Basics
  • Ballard Designs
  • Birthday Express
  • Constructive Playthings
  • Crate & Barrel
  • Crutchfield
  • Dell
  • Gaiam
  • Get Organized
  • Hanna Anderson
  • Highlights
  • LL Bean
  • Magellans
  • Olive Juice Kids
  • Pottery Barn
  • Sensational Beginnings

CatalogChoice is a great tool in getting yourself removed from a number of catalogs but it will not stop every single company. If you buy anything online you are subject to getting added to that companies catalog and on occasion other company’s catalogs as well. All in all, I would give Catalog Choice an A- for usefullness.