Archive for June, 2016

Buy or Rent Air Conditioner

Buy or Rent Air ConditionerWould you buy or rent air conditioner equipment? The answer might surprise you and it really depends on the assumptions you make regarding the costs involved. The first step is to obtain several quotes for replacing your air conditioner through a purchase plan and also renting it if this program is available. Most people can do a straight line comparison of the total cost of the unit installed vs. paying monthly rental fees. There will be a break even amount at some point in the future, which could be around 10 years depending on the assumptions and the actual costs.

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of insurance for service and maintenance if you purchase your own AC unit.¬† If you plan to be in the home longer than this breakeven number of years, you may want to consider a further refinement of the numbers to do a proper comparison.

Buy or Rent Air Conditioner

For example, if your cost will be $5000 and you have the $5000 available, how much interest are you collecting on that $5000 today. If it is just sitting in a bank account collecting very little interest, then this next step will not be of much interest to you.

On the other hand if it is invested in something such as a stock paying 3 or 4% dividends, then you really have to factor in the lost income associated with cashing in the stock to pay for the new AC unit. Four percent will pay $200 a year for as long as you own the stock and possibly more from gains in the value of the stock as well as dividend increases.

This income will help to offset the rental cost of the air conditioning a considerable amount and move the breakeven number further out to where it might be interesting to rent instead of purchasing your air conditioning unit. Take a look at the previous post about rent vs. buying a furnace and air conditioning for a more direct example.

For more information about general repairs around your home, click here.


Replace Aging Air Conditioners

Replace Aging Air ConditionersReplacing aging air conditioners that are no longer working is a bit of a non decision. However what if it is still working and your furnace quits on you? This is the situation the writer is faced with. We decided to replace the AC at the same time that we are replacing the furnace. We wanted to have a new energy efficient model that will help to control our ongoing utility bills as well as increase the resale value of our home. A real estate friend of ours told us that if the furnace or the AC unit is more than 10 years old, they should set aside money to replace it. If we sell in the next 10 years, the units will still be under warranty!

Replace Aging Air Conditioners – Damage

There is another reason to replace the AC when you replace the furnace. If the coil begins to leak it could damage the new furnace. The coil sits on top of the furnace. Leaking water or coolant would damage the furnace causing it to rust, possibly short circuit the electric motor and other components.

We decided  to replace both our furnace and replace our aging air conditioner at the same time. After all it was 28 years old and really does not owe us anything. Because it is so old it is inefficient and so we will gain from some of the savings we will get from the new system.

Everyone is in a different situation. We could have taken a chance and just repaired our furnace. This would have cost $800 with no guarantees that there would not be other problems. Apparently our furnace is known for cracks in the heat ex changer as well which we do not want to deal with.

So a big expense, but hopefully the right one in the long term.

Solar Power Impact on Traditional Power Systems

Solar Power Impact on Traditional Power SystemsThere is no doubt that there will be a solar power impact on traditional power systems. The question that everyone is trying to figure out is how much impact will there be. What aspect of the system will be impacted? Solar power will impact these parts much differently. The areas of power generation can be broken down in to the following categories: Fuel; Generation; Transmission; and Delivery. We will take a look at each one of these separately assuming two scenarios.

Solar Power Impact on Traditional Power Systems


Fuel today for electrical power generation depends on sources such as coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear and hydro. Both large solar projects and roof top solar will have an impact on these sources. Solar is really a new source of fuel. Power is virtually free with no impact on the environment.


Generation will focus on the lowest costs and the least environmental impact. This means wind power and solar projects combined with existing hydro power dams. Generation from steam generated by burning coal, oil and natural gas will tail off in that order. This change will take place slowly as more and more solar comes online.

Transmission systems will still be required. Unless roof top solar and local wind farms really take off.  This could still motivate and drive consumers to roof top installations. Large solar projects and wind farm projects will still require long distance transmission systems.

Delivery – Delivery will depend on the penetration of roof top solar panels. Local utilities could find that their revenue could drop significantly. However this is still at least a decade away in North America.

Roof top solutions are becoming more cost effective. Locations with already high per kilowatt per hour costs will see an impact within the next few years.


Smart Home Component Design Strategies

Smart Home Component Design StrategiesThe smart home industry is still in the early stages of development. There is not a smart home component design strategies plan in place. Many companies are developing components that will fit into a larger system however right now they are just components. They will be upgraded many times, there will be new devices added and gradually standards will be developed so that you can connect one companies devices to another companies devices and systems. But right now, it really is a confusing mess out there and also expensive.

Smart Home Component Design Strategies

What should a consumer do in a situation like this one especially if you are the early adopter type of person? The answer is to develop your own strategy around a smart home. Focus on the things that you really want to automate and those that provide security functionality. These devices and components are not cheap so you will also need to factor in your budget for this project.

Next spend some time reviewing those companies that have a complete system that meets your requirements. There is no sense trying to mix and match at this time from several companies if you want them to all interact with each other. Finally assess the companies that are in it for the long haul, have a development strategy of their own and provide support to their customers.

If you do all of this you may have a chance of installing a smart home system that meets your needs. It can interact with a central controller and is evolvable as devices and systems develop further. For more energy saving ideas, click here.



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