Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friends, Cars & Money

*Bonus points if you got that my post was a riff on the Warren Zevon song "Lawyers, Guns & Money".

What the last few days it's been here! 
Can you guess what I'm going to talk about today from my post title? lol

First, a longtime online friend's husband passed away.  I am part of an online group, a closed group that came together as beanie baby collectors.  We've been a group since 1998 and have actually had a few conventions early on where we got together in person.  I traveled to Minnesota in 1999 for the 1st convention and to Missouri in 2000 to another one.  The mini-gathering held in Chicago I was unable to attend in 2001 or 2002(can't remember when it was held).

Anyway, this member was very active in the group, even now, when many of us have moved on and don't communicate much anymore.  Her husband has had a chronic/permanent condition for many years but she has stayed in touch.  Usually when difficulties like hers have arisen with other members, she was the one to organize and send out sympathy cards and flowers and such from the group.

Well, I took it upon myself to organize an effort to let her know that we, as a group, are thinking about her.  I'm not usually the one to handle this kind of stuff and I'm sure my missteps this time will show that.  But I felt I owed it to her to arranged something.
So all the back and forth emailing everyone in the group and arranging what to send her has taken up a good chunk of the last two days.

Second, to add to my concerns lately is that #2 Son was in a car accident.  The other night, he was pulling out onto the highway to come home after working and someone plowed into him.  If he hadn't seen them at the last minute and floored the gas, they would have hit him broadside, t-boning his car.  With quick thinking, he was able to save all but the rear left side of his car.  Well, "save" isn't quite the right way to describe it.  The back end of the car is now "a Modern Art Project" rather than a car.

Most probably, the car will be totaled and insurance will cut us a check.....and then in Aug. when our premium is due, our rates will increase.  Sigh.......

But more importantly, #2 Son is fine....just a little shook up but the boy seems to have nerves of steel.

And in regard to the "shit hole" nearby, we have decided that no, we don't want to retire to this area, so we will pass on that particular opportunity.
If we are going to be shelling out cash, we might as well do it on getting our present home up to snuff.

And speaking of fixing up your house, we come to my third point of this post.
We finally bit the bullet on the largest home improvement project we need to do here at Chez Sluggy as part of The Great House Fix-Up & Purge of 2013.

We decided on and signed a contract to install an a/c system.
We even went one better than that.
Since we needed a better a/c plan than window units AND we also needed a new plan for a heating system, we got both.

We have no ductwork and the logistics of installing ductwork in this house is unworkable, so we went with an a/c mini-split unit.  These are a/c units put right into the wall of your rooms that are run via an outside compressor unit(a heat pump thingy-technical term).  We are having 2 units installed downstairs that will cool the entire first floor, and 1 unit put up into the master bedroom.  We didn't have the whole house covered because we basically don't need it for the number of people living here and the way we live in the house AND it would have been too freaking expensive to do the entire house it turns out.

We tried to have the 3 splits installed and a compressor large enough to support 5 splits(so that when we sold the house, if the new owners wanted to have all the bedrooms air conditioned, they could add on splits).  But they don't have/make a 5 split sized compressor so the next step up would have been an 8 split compressor.....and that one was just much higher than we wanted to shell out for something a new owner might or might not want.  If they want to go full house cooling, they can replace the compressor on their dime with that much larger one we declined to buy.

Then when we priced this system out, to add heat to it(thus making it a heating AND cooling system)was only going to run $1,500 more.  And it's no fly-by-night equipment either.  We are talking Carrier and Mitsubishi, both top brands in their respective parts lines.
Hubs was talking to our neighbor after we signed on with this system, and he was telling Hubs that they had a split unit which they ripped out and replaced with ductwork and the whole magilla(there house is configured much differently from ours so it was feasible to install).  He said it never worked right and didn't cool anything(it was just a/c, not heat too).  Of course then Hubs found out he spent $3K on it installed and it was years ago and a brand nobody ever heard of and without a large enough seer rating to move any air.  And a "Johnny one truck"(aka a small time questionably self-employed HVAC person) installed it.

As I've talked about before we have a heating system that is slowly dying.  The house was built with ceramic storage heating units(that run off of the electric).  When our electric company offered an on/off peak rate plan, your ceramic storage would run off-peak when the rates were lower and then give off the heat during on peak hours, saving you money.  But they no longer offer it and the ceramic storage heating units are one by one ceasing to work.  It makes no sense to repair/replace them, especially since there is ONE GUY who repairs/replaces these within an hour's drive of here and he charges-get this--2 TIMES the Cost of a unit to replace one.  Yep.  The units cost about $1K each and he charges over $2K to take out the old one and hook the new one up.  If you are gaining no energy savings once the thing is replaced and operationally again, why spend that kind of money?!
Just to replace all 5 of these ceramic units would run us over $15 THOUSAND!!  And after spending all that, we'd be left with plain old expensive electric heat pump system that's less expensive to operate and NO COOLING option either!

So of the 5 ceramic storage units we have/had in the house, 3 have broken and we have replaced, so far, 1 with plain old baseboard electric heat.  And the stupid thing is, we didn't have the ceramic units in every room of the house, just the main floor and the master bedroom so it wasn't a house wide system to begin with.
Getting a combined heat and a/c system just made sense and as the 2 units that are still working stop, we can just rip them out.  The rooms that never had ceramic units have baseboard anyway and they are fine as is.

So within the next 2 weeks, we will have sorted out our heating/cooling problems and have that major obstacle to selling this house when we are ready to do so out of the way.
We spent a good chunk of change(but we knew we would be from the research I had done)but I think we accomplished a solution on the cheap compared to other possibilities.
But we spent LESS than replacing all the ceramic units would have cost plus we get a system that will cost less to operate AND we get a/c with the deal.
Nice. 8-)))

I am just glad that this is out of the way and off my list! 8-)
I figure too we have increased the value of the house about 10-15%.
We missed out on a rebate from the electric company to have this system installed by one month. ugh
But we do get a $300 tax credit next tax year....not a refund, just a credit when we go to do our taxes for 2013. 

The only down side will be having to keep my hand steady enough to write that check to the company. lol

So #1 heating/cooling problem solved and it's onward to planning the next project.....which one that is yet?.....I don't know.  ;-)
Needless to say, none of the other projects we need to do are as expensive as this one.
Thank goodness for my Money Savings Challenges over the past few years, huh?



  1. Someone gave me a perfectly good heat pump. She was just nervous that it might give out some day. It was new and her husband had just died, so she just replaced things that were perfectly okay. It was so expensive to install duct work that I finally just sold the unit for only $300. This house did not have ductwork for ac. And, plaster walls and lathe boards had to come down and then be replaced. So, I get the work needed.

    I am glad your son is okay. That was a scary wreck.

  2. Oh wow. That is pricy. The numbers just kill me! Sucks that you missed the rebate by such a small timeframe. Oh well. Live and learn! And hopefully with better and more efficient cooling/heating.

  3. I seriously have never heard of the Johnny 1 truck reference! I know a few of those...
    Good luck with the air! You will not regret it.

  4. I am so glad your son was not injured.

    Way to get the best deal on the ac you need.


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