Thursday, March 11, 2010

Water tank shuffle

One of the real benefits of owning your own home is being able to do things you'd never be able to do in an apartment.

My first house had some really odd things. There was a hot air furnace sitting in the living room. The old guy who owned the house before me didn't trust those new fangled furnaces. He had his installed in the living room so he could keep an eye on it. The house had a pot bellied coal stove in the basement, and 700 pounds of coal. I burned up all the coal while remodeling the house, then sold the stove. Once that was out of the way, the furnace went down the basement.

For hot water there was a kerosene stove in the kitchen with a 30 gallon water tank that warmed from a copper coil in the firebox. The stove was moved out and replaced with a modern electric stove. The water tank was replaced by a 40 gallon electric hot water tank.

Then energy costs soared. Soon there was a good woodstove installed in the basement. To reduce my electric hot water costs, the old kitchen 30 gallon stove was pressed into service as a preheater for the electric tank. The 30 gallon tank was heated by a copper coil I connected to the woodstove. That dropped my hot water bills by 90%.

In the summer when the woodstove wasn't running, the bills climbed back up. Couldn't afford to start paying full price for hot water. Once you get a break on something like that, it's hard to go back. Didn't have much money to work with -less than $20. I disconnected the tank from the woodstove and moved it to a sunny part of the yard. I'd salvaged 100 feet of black plastic pipe. Used the pipe to connect the outside tank to the inside electric tank. The extra pipe was coiled on top of a shed roof. Also spray painted the water tank black. The solar boost to the water dropped the electric water bill by 3/4.

Every six months or so I'd drain the tank and lug it to the woodstove or the yard.

Two years ago I went back to using wood and sun to heat water. At least these days I can afford two tanks and don't have to to the water tank shuffle.



  1. You're a determined cuss and that is what is making you successful. Keep the costs down!