The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Water Heater Edition

Over the past weekend, our water heater finally gave up the ghost.

It’s been ailing for a while and we knew that it was on its last legs. During the several month period when our house was unoccupied before we moved in, the tank was left full of water, which caused some sediment to build up in the bottom. This meant that the heater was pretty slow to heat up (wasting energy) and incredibly noisy from the percolating sediment. Many of the pieces of sediment were too large to drain out, even if you removed the spigot.

To make matters worse, the pilot light would occasionally just go out on it. I knew there was something wrong – I could re-light it, but the light would go out again once a week or so.

Finally, last weekend, it just stopped working. The pilot light wouldn’t re-light. The water heater sat there.

I called in a repairman I trust and he started slowly stepping through the diagnostics on it. Once the faulty pieces were discovered by process of elimination, he offered me a quote (which I checked out) on both the replacement parts (which would have to be ordered) and labor or an entirely new hot water heater. After doing some math and estimating the energy savings, we went with an entirely new water heater.

Tanked or tankless? After doing the math, we had already concluded that, for our normal use, there wasn’t much savings with a tankless water heater – but there certainly was a larger up-front cost and some concerns with simultaneous use (like the dishwasher running while other people are taking showers). So, we chose a new tank heater.

So far, it works like a charm. The best part? No loud percolating – it was loud enough that it could be heard on the top floor while the water heater was in the basement.

Should I Invest While Still In Debt? I basically agree with the conclusions drawn here – it’s a bad idea to invest if you have any high interest debt at all and don’t have any personal savings built up. I’d add a third criteria – don’t invest unless you can clearly articulate what your goal is, because without that, you’re investing nearly blindly. (@ debt free adventure)

Are All Your Goals Materialistic Ones? I can’t think of a single major goal I have in my life that’s materialistic aside from wanting a home in the country (and the reason for that isn’t an ostentatious home, but one more in line with how we live). Almost all of my goals revolve around experiences – spending time with people or engaging in activities. It seems so natural and normal to me now that I sometimes almost feel uncomfortable recalling a time when my goals were really materialistic. (@ pick the brain)

Efficient Market Hypothesis and Supermarket Lines It’s often advantageous to stay put, even if the grass seems a little greener on the other side. Why? There’s usually a cost to switch – time, and often, money as well, plus intellectual investment. (@ my money blog)

The Priority List Whenever you have a giant goal, there’s usually an enormous list of things to do to reach that goal. However, if you don’t spend some time prioritizing that enormous list, you’re going to make a ton of mis-steps along the way. Planning ahead for any goal – and figuring out which steps are the most important ones – turns an impossible goal into an achievable one. (@ seth godin)

Time for Everything In almost every aspect of our lives, we seek to maximize the time we have to spend on whatever we want to do. Since that’s such a common human goal, many, many people try to subvert others from doing just that, through marketing and other means. (@ soul shelter)

Why “Having a Mission” Can Make You Happier. This is actually something I’ve noticed a lot lately with my kids. We often get out a ton of paper and draw on it (thank you, end rolls of newspaper). If it’s “free form” drawing, the kids tend to get distracted pretty quickly (and so do I). Instead, I suggest that we all draw pictures of something simple, like trees. If I do that, everyone is way more engaged, trying to draw interesting trees. A simple mission often makes things a lot more enjoyable, and it’s a technique you can apply in a LOT of areas in your life. (@ happiness project)

Pouring Concrete This is a great story about making goals concrete. It’s actually kind of similar to a story I’m telling in my upcoming book – I made a goal of my own concrete in a somewhat similar way. (@ jonathan fields)

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