Archive for the 'Appliances & Fixtures' Category

Photo Tour

We’ve been living in the house for one month and are now mostly unpacked (except for Larry’s office) so I thought it was time to give everyone the 5 cent tour.

Still some work to do: Once the basement is cleared of construction tools and supplies, we’re going to start setting up the root cellar, work tables, homebrew kit & dart board (a.k.a. man cave.) We’re also still debating the best way to hang artwork on the walls. Larry’s hesitant to put nail holes in the exterior walls he worked so hard to air seal. And we still have a lot of stuff in storage that we need to unpack, but for now we’re just taking a few weeks to enjoy the place. We love it!


As Larry mentioned in the last post, we have ordered our appliances and they are due to arrive in the next 2-3 weeks. I’ve been researching appliances and keeping an eye on prices for the past 2 years; constantly updating our short list as new models came out and old ones were discontinued. There is an endless variety to choose from, but we were able to narrow our choices down to fit a few key criteria:

1. All electric. Gotta make use of our solar power.

2. Efficiency. You will have more flexibility if you’re willing to forgo having a matching suite. Luckily (?) there’s only a few design styles for appliances, so it’s still possible to have very similar looking pieces that could pass for a matching set if you don’t look to closely at the logos.

3. Size. We left no wiggle room, so the range and fridge had to fit in the 30″ space we allotted for them in the floor plan at the beginning.

4. Budget. Most efficient doesn’t necessarily have be the most expensive.

Top Ten USA is an good website to start when shopping for energy efficient appliances as it compiles a short list of the most efficient products from the ENERGY STAR list and includes prices. For more detail or to broaden your search, you could use either the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) or the ENERGY STAR websites. The energy efficiency information in the product charts is similar on both sites, but the CEE also assigns a handy tier certification rating to products that qualify. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) website has a good consumer resources section that offers shopping guidance and tips for saving energy. The major box store websites are useful for finding price ranges and reading user reviews.

Be aware: The Energy Star program’s criteria for which models qualify changes as of January 20, 2012. Some appliances that could previously claim Energy Star status may no longer qualify, and showroom labeling might be outdated.

FRIDGE: Whirlpool WRT359SFYM * $800-900 * CEE Tier 3 * 30% more efficient than federal standard. To save energy, we wanted a bottom or top-mounted freezer configuration, without an ice-maker or water dispenser, and under 20 cu. ft. in size.

DISHWASHER: Bosch SHX500 Series * $800-900 * CEE Tier 2 * 27% more efficient than federal standard. Asko and Bosch models dominate the top of all the energy efficiency lists, but Bosch is more easily available in our area so it was the obvious place to start looking. We were looking for an Energy Factor (EF) of at least 0.65 or an estimated energy use of less than 340 kWh/year, low water use, a no heat dry option, delay start option, and quiet due to our open floor plan. This particular model has an EF of .83, energy use of 259 kWh/year, water use of 2.95 gallons/cycle, and a sones rating of 46 dBA.  Bosch offers an overwhelming variety of dishwashers with an assortment of features – many with even lower energy and water use – so price was the biggest deciding factor here.

RANGE: Electrolux Wave-Touch Series EW30IS65JS * $3199. (Ranges are not Energy Star rated.) To save money, early on we decided to install an electric range instead of a separate cooktop/oven, and the kitchen was wired with that in mind. I really wanted a slide-in model instead of a freestanding one – mostly due to aesthetics, but also to help keep grease and crumbs from getting caught between the cabinets and the range. Induction was intriguing but a bit outside of our budget, so we selected a conventional GE model with a convection oven in the $1200-1300 price range. In the beginning of November we started reconsidering induction as a more energy efficient option. While there are many induction cooktops and freestanding ranges available, the Electrolux Wave-Touch is currently the only slide-in range that has all the burners with induction. It just happened to be twice as much as the previous model we picked out and it never goes on sale. In hindsight, if we had known we were going to spend this much from the beginning we may have opted to have a separate cooktop/oven instead (and installed the appropriate wiring and cabinet configurations) just to have more flexibility and choice. As it is, we’re glad that if there’s only one model available, at least it’s a well reviewed one. We may have busted our budget with this, but we are both really happy we were able to switch to induction. Now I just have to buy some new stainless cookware to use with it.

RANGE HOOD: Broan 41000 Series * $79-90. (Range hoods are not Energy Star rated.) We went ductless to preserve the integrity of the building envelope and our air sealing. Our ERV has a “boost” option in the kitchen and bathroom to quickly move air out of those areas, so this range hood is just for filtering grease/steam and supplying light to the cooking surface. We’ll let you know how this system works after we’ve used it a bit.

LAUNDRY: LG 24″ Compact Front Load Washer WM1355HW * $899-999 * CEE Tier 2 * 90% more efficient than federal standard. / LG 24″ Compact Electric Condensing Dryer DLEC855W * $899-999 (Dryers are not Energy Star rated.) Again, ventless to preserve the air sealing was the main decider here, but the compact size and front-loading style are also energy savers. There were only two condensing models available in our area – these LGs and the Bosch Axxis. Not only were the LGs less expensive, but the washer was also rated more efficient with a Modified Energy Factor (MEF) of 2.40 and a Water Factor (WF) of 4.4. They also came with the stacking kit, whereas Bosch charged extra. I have read reviews that said the condensing dryers take longer to dry than vented dryers, but we plan to only use the dryer whenever we can’t use our laundry line. (Still the most energy efficient way to dry clothes.)


Side note: We hadn’t planned to be buying our appliances in November, but since that’s how the timing worked out we decided to try to take advantage of Black Friday sales (a marketing event I’ve gone out of my way to avoid in the past.) There seemed to be some really good deals on appliances that weekend, but not on any of the models we had selected. In fact, prices on each of these items were $50-100 more in November than they were over the summer. If I have to buy appliances again, I will be shopping the July 4th or Labor Day sales. On the other hand, the iPhone and iPad came in extremely handy when shopping at stores that offered price-matching. They easily paid for themselves last weekend.

November update: floors, doors and sills and kitchen

We’re on the final push. In the last week we finished laying the wood floor on the second floor. It will be sanded later this week, then we’ll apply a natural whey-based sealer. Warren also installed the interior doors and window sills on the second floor. They will get a coat of paint next week.

Other progress includes building a base for the kitchen cabinets and island, and assembling the cabinets. We also bid out the kitchen counters and ordered all the appliances on Black Friday. Jill will post later this week on our appliance selections.

Activities for the rest of the week include laying the wood floor and installing the interior doors on the first floor. There’s also some small remaining sheetrock and taping to finish the island.

Then there’s all the odds and ends, final electrical and plumbing hookups. Stairs. Trim. It’s going to be a busy December!

More 2nd floor

The rain may have slowed our progress, but progress is still being made. Warren and Peter were still able to frame out more of the windows, the interior divider wall and nail up the ceiling joists. We were lucky to have a few sunny days over the weekend, so Bernie could enjoy a nap in the sun while we mopped up rain puddles in the living room. The fall foliage is really starting to peak!

We also purchased our first fixture for the house, a Kohler Archer 6′ soaking tub. Our contractor wisely recommended buying it now so we can lift it in through the second floor rough window openings. Much easier than carrying it up narrow stairs after the house is closed in.

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