Friday, March 13, 2009

That Sinking Feeling

The New York Times had a good piece in yesterday's Home & Garden section about five easy fixes any homeowner can do to make their home more efficient.
Face it, not everyone is in a position to install photovoltaic panels on the roof to capture and convert the sun's rays into energy (though one of my Verdun neighbors seems to have done just that). Everyone can fill a 2-litre pop bottle with water and place it in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water that goes swirling down the bog every time you flush.
Perhaps the smartest fix is replacing your old electromechanical thermostat with a newfangled electronic gizmo. Hydro-Québec offers residential customers up to $65 back on the purchase of programmable electronic thermostats and another $65 (maximum) rebate if installation is done by a master electrician.
I have no idea how hard it is to install an electronic thermostat but I can't imagine it's a job that requires the services of a top-drawer electrician. He'll charge you an easy $65 just to cross the threshold. Maybe I'm asking to be electrocuted.
Bottom line? Swapping out the imprecise old thermostats will save you 10 per cent on annual heating costs. It'll also allow you to preset the system so that the furnace kicks in just before you wake in the morning, ensuring a toasty wake-up and cooler temperatures during the day if and when no one is home.
But I digress. The thing that really caught my eye in the Times pieces, was mention of the SinkPositive, essentially a toilet tank topped with a hands-free sink. Everyime you flush, water comes out the tap. The water you use to wash your hands then cycles into the toilet tank and is used to flush.
By the looks of the installation video, it's pretty easy to hook up. Here's the big problem: no hot water. That's right, you have to wash your hands with the icy cold water from the main water line. Yikes! Besides, call me crazy, but I think there's a cognitive disconnect involved. Rationally, we all know that the water in the toilet tank is perfectly clean. And yet, ewww! I'm washing my hands in the toilet.
I'm not sure it's an idea whose time has come.

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