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What’s Hot and What’s Not? High Tech May Be Not - August 15, 2019

It’s the middle of the summer and I just experienced the chilling unpleasantness of my water heater reaching the end of its life. But with outside temperatures in the 90’s, I thought it would be a golden opportunity to replace it with a technologically advanced super-efficient unit.

I decided for a mini-split heat-pump unit with CO2 refrigerant but found out that there were no authorized vendors in Massachusetts. Of course not! For there is no rebate program in Massachusetts for installing a green water heater! I had to get quotes from vendors in other states, which was not a problem, as they ship anywhere and as long as I provide the credentials of a licensed plumber. Next was to find that licensed plumber who was familiar with the technology and willing to cooperate with my endeavor. The first plumber discreetly bailed out but I didn't get discouraged. I only had to find one plumber who was the right one and I did. I was excited.

Nonetheless, after some discussion, this energy-conscious plumber reminded me that being green is also about consumption and, for a single person household, I might be greener if I stayed with the conventional electric water heater. Besides that my split unit would ship from another state, it is significantly more costly to purchase and install, and also requires expensive annual maintenance.

It perfectly made sense to me. In the end, it saved me a lot of money compared to not ever recouping my return on investment if I had installed the split unit. The analogy that came to mind was that it would have been as if I had decided to buy a hybrid car because of its comparably small carbon footprint when, in fact, I have only ridden a bicycle. It doesn't make sense, of course, and now I have a renewed appreciation for what is simple and maintenance-free.

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