Q: We drink quite a bit of hot tea at our home year-round. I now keep a small electric pot of water hot all day. Would it be more energy efficient to install a sink-type hot water dispenser?
A: Keeping a small electric pot of water hot all day is not the most energy efficient method for making tea. During the winter, the heat lost from the pot helps to heat the house, but the electric resistance element is expensive to operate.
During the summer this pot of hot water is a triple loss. First, it uses electricity to heat the water. Second, your air conditioner must run more to remove this heat from the house. Third, the hot water gives off humidity to the room that makes the air conditioner run even longer.
A sink-mounted hot water dispenser is a much more efficient method to get hot water instantly for tea or coffee. There also are many other uses for the instant hot water such as warming baby food, cleaning cheese or butter off a knife, etc. Running a little hot water over a new jar often makes it easier to break open the seal on the lid.
A hot water dispenser is different from an instant water heater that heats the cold water as it is used. Instead, a hot water dispenser has a small, highly insulated hot water tank under the countertop. In effect, it is an efficient mini water heater in the kitchen. With its insulated tank, very little heat is lost to the kitchen so less electricity is consumed.
A typical hot water dispenser can heat enough hot water for about 50 cups each hour. This is more than most families will ever use. For better tasting water, some models include optional water filters. Another option is a countertop model which uses bottled water and it may also include a chiller for cold water.
You should be able to install a hot water dispenser yourself because it operates on standard 120-volt electricity. The most difficult part of the installation process is making a new hole in the countertop. Depending upon your needs, the water temperature can usually be set between 140 and 190 degrees. The lower temperature settings are ideal for cleaning tasks.
If you have children who can reach the hot water dispenser handle, select a model with a child-resistant push button. A typical design requires a 90-degree turn of the button to switch it from the locked-off position. Even 140-degree water can scald skin in seconds, so always lock it.
Hot water can leach lead from pipe solder joints, so all the water paths in hot water dispensers are lead-free. When steaming rice or boiling vegetables on the stove, it is safe to start with heated water from the dispenser. This will save energy overall.
Get a quote that's free
Q: I called two window companies to check my old windows for possible repairs or to give me a quote on new ones. They charge $100 to come out, but they will refund it if I buy windows. Is this normal?
A: With today's slowing business environment, I am surprised to hear any company would charge you to give a quotation on installing replacement windows. Perhaps they thought is was just a service call.
Call several more window contractors and tell them you want quotes on new windows and also on repairs. I am sure many will come out for free. Do some research ahead so they cannot push you needlessly into new windows when the old ones can be repaired.
Send inquiries to James Dulley, St. Petersburg Times, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or go to www.dulley.com.