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Thursday, March 11, 2010


I purchased a refrigerator, Range, and microwave on Monday from Lowes.

Samsung French Door refrigerator (RF263AEBP) with ice maker without the through the door option and no water dispenser. This thing is huge (25.8 cu. ft.), yet it uses a mere 462 Kwh per year. Our old refrigerator used around 900 Kwh per year. That should save us around $40 per year on our electricity bill. Retail $1499

We decided on the top of the line GE Profile Free standing electric range (PB978DPBB). It has two ovens, an internal meat thermometer, and a griddle feature. Our current 1979 vintage oven is down to just one working burner. Retail $1949

And a GE Profile Microwave. Retail $249

The total retail price would have been around $3724. The cheapest I could find it online was $3319 (with free shipping). I ended up paying around $3240 with tax and free delivery using the Lowes Price match. It was a bit of a hassle, but worth it for the savings. The first time I showed up the clerk didn't want to give me the cheaper price because I didn't have proof. I showed up again on Saturday with proof, but they couldn't order the range, so I had to show up again on Monday.

It will take several weeks for the range to show up since it's a special order, so they are holding the other appliances and will deliver them together.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Refrigerator

Buying a new energy efficient refrigerator is a frustrating process. Most sites don't have the energy star guides (the yellow flyers that say how much power a device uses). Sites like Lowes.com allow you to compare features between competing models, but not how much power they use, they do allow you to download the energy guides individually.

You have to pay attention to how much power it uses, because sometimes they get the math wrong and two models with dramatically different power needs will have the exact same cost of operation listed. Also, the little scale on the flyer is bogus. You know the one that says "Cost Range Of Similar Models"...I think this scale is based on very tight parameters, models of exact same size (like 25.8 cu. ft.), type (french door bottom mount freezer) and only within that particular manufacturer... It's better to just evaluate them based on the "Estimated Yearly Electricity Use"

My refrigerator is at least 13 years old, the energy star website estimates that it uses 857 kwh/year to run (and costs $91/year). I'm looking for a larger refrigerator, preferably french door with a bottom mount freezer and an ice maker as well as an internal water dispenser. Currently, I've found a Samsung model that is 25.8 cu. ft. that uses somewhere between 462 - 505 kwh/year to run (and costs just $49/year - saving me $42/year).

Part of me thinks I should get a top freezer replacement of almost equal size that only uses around 330 kwh/year, saving about $56 (over our current fridge). This really would be the better option for the planet, but with a family of 5, our current fridge is usually maxed out and the freezer is always maxed out.

Kitchen Remodel

Our house was built in 1979. The stove is original to the house as are the cabinets, but I think the previous owners replaced the cabinet doors when they decided to sell the house. The original refrigerator was in the garage when we moved in, but the previous owners had put a new refrigerator in the kitchen (which makes it at least 13 years old now). I think we've gone through 2 dishwashers since we've been here. The stove barely functions, the cabinet doors are cracked and the refrigerator is making some crazy knocking noises. It's time for a remodel.

I met with Charlie so he could take measurements and get an idea for what we wanted. I'll be doing the demolition myself to save cash and I'll be buying the appliances myself for the same reason. My guess is that Charlie is going to come back with an estimate of $20k to $25k for the project.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rheem Heat Pump Water Heater

I didn't know these existed, traditional water heaters work like a toaster, they have an electric heating element - essentially a resistor that turns electricity into heat. But this unit works on the same principle as your refrigerator but in reverse. In your refrigerator, the system takes the heat inside the unit and dumps it out into the room and in the process cools your milk.

In this Hot water heater, it takes the heat in the room and dumps it into the water. It is twice as efficient as a standard hot water heater. They claim that will save about $286 per year on your electric bill. The problem as I see it is that the unit costs $1500 not including tax and installation. It is eligible for a 30% tax credit (so you'll save $500). I believe that makes it 3.6 years to payback its cost not counting installation costs.

Since these have very similar 'guts' to a refrigerator, I would expect it to last just as long. I think when our water heater dies, we'll replace it with one of these.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sock Box Progress

I went to Lowes and bought Oak Plywood and an Oak Board. There were 2 sheets of 2' x 2'x 1/2" and I also bought a sheet of 2' x 2' x 3/4". The Board was 1/2"(actual) x 6" x 9'. I cut the 1/2" plywood to produce 3 boards that were 1' x 2' and 2 boards that were 1' x 1'. I also cut out a 1' x 2' board out of the 3/4" plywood. I used a dado blade to cut "teeth" on the 1' sides of the longer boards. I was cutting 1/2" deep, so that the boards would sit inside each other. I had the dado blade set up to be 3/8" wide and I was hoping to have a 3/8" cut then a 3/8" uncut area alternately down the side of the baord. In reality, my jig wasn't very accurate, so when I cut the smaller boards, I had to transfer the measurements from the other boards and cut them to fit.

Here you can see the boards cut, but not yet glued. Also in the picture you can see the 1' x 2' board that will be the lid and the 1' x 2' x 3/4" board that will be the base.

I cut two 9 inch pieces of the board for the top so they were 1/2" x 6" x 9". Then I cut a 6 inch piece off the board for the handles 1/2" x 6" x 6". This was cut into 1" strips 1/2" x 1" x 6". Two of those strips were routed on all four 6 inch sides. The other 4 strips were routed on two of the long sides. The remaining board got cut into three long strips. The first strip was 3" wide, the second strip was 2" wide, and the final strip was 1" wide. I then routed a profile onto the two wider strips. The original was just an angle cut, but I used a 3/8" roundover bit set deep enough to produce a little shoulder. The long strips were cut into 4 pieces and they were overly long so that I could cut them more precisely with the miter cuts for the corners. I knew I needed the two longer pieces to be at least 25 inches (24 inches plus 1/2" extra on either side) and the two shorter pieces to be 13 inches long (12 inches plus 1/2" either side). Here's a picture of the top pieces, trim pieces, and handles.

I wanted a deep red color to the oak, so I used Minwax Sedona Red for the stain, then Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane to protect it. The color came out nice, but I would have prefered something a bit more red.

The trim pieces and handles were all glued on using Titebond III glue. The horizontal pieces of the handle were screwed on. I also used screws on the top pieces, but that forced the top pieces off the lid, so I wouldn't do that again. I placed hinges on the lid and attached it to the bottom half, but it wasn't exact, so I had to break out the chisels to open up the top a bit in areas so that it would smoothly open and close. The final touch was to cut out the copper for the edges and nail them in place with 1/2" copper tacks. Here you can see the copper added.

If I was to do this again, I would redesign the handles to make them stronger. I was definitely unhappy with the way they came out. Also, when cutting the dado's in the earlier stage of construction, I would definitely go with wider cuts, 1/2" deep by 1" or 2" wide. I would also search for a better way to make the copper pieces. I used a pair of scissors and freehanded the cuts except for the complicated cuts. In that case, I cut one and traced it onto the other pieces. Here's where I got the copper sheet and tacks. I used the 10 mil sheet. I was afraid the oils on my skin would discolor the copper, so I used rubber gloves whenever I had to touch the copper. I coated the copper with Polyurethane as soon as possible so that it would stay copper colored.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sock Box

I have an old pine chest that is pretty beat up. My family has had it for probably 20 years. We originally used it as a coffee table/sock box. I've always liked it, so now that I've become Mr. Handyman around the house, I thought I would recreate the box in something a bit more durable than pine. As you can see, the handles on the sides are missing and the top has a crack in it along the length.

When my cousin Christie announced that she was getting married, I thought it would make the perfect gift. Unfortunately, it's taken me a lot longer to complete than I thought. She was married over a month ago and I'm still not done yet.

The inside dimensions of the box are 1' x 1' x 2' The trim pieces on the outside are from 1/2" pieces. I routed mine with a more elaborate profile than the one on the original. The corners are covered in copper.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Saved Over $200

I purchased a rekey kit from Change-A-Lock and it arrived in the mail today. I have 5 kwikset locks and one Masterlock, which meant 6 different keys on my keychain. After about 30 minutes of work and the $15 rekey kit, I was down to 2 keys, 1 Masterlock and 1 Kwikset.

I stopped in at a locksmith yesterday and asked about getting my locks rekeyed, $95 service call just to show up at the house, then $32 per lock for the rekey service. Ouch!