Consumer

Installing a new hot water heater

June 21, 2010

52 comments

It is quite common for homeowners to rent their hot water heaters here in Ontario. The rentals cost anywhere between $15 for an old tank to $20 or more for a new one. Years ago, we stopped renting our old water heater and I’ve been meaning to replace it for a while now. But, what with one thing or another, I never got around to it even though Michael James warned everyone on the mess that a leaking water heater makes in your basement.

Well, last weekend, I finally paid the price for keeping an old, rusted, water heater around a little too long. The bottom of the old water tank had rusted through and leaked water into the furnace room and to my basement office. After shutting down the valve, draining the heater and cleaning up the mess, I went shopping for a replacement. Home Depot carries water heaters and offers installation services (for some reason, Rona doesn’t) and for a fee, is willing to do a rush job. Here’s what installing a new tank will cost you:

GE 50 gallon gas water heater: $683.00 (60 gallon tank: $712.00)

Water heater measure: $40.00
Installation: $300.00
Weekend, evening & holiday fee: $165.00
Haul away & dispose: $40.00
Total Install Charges: $545.00

Grand total (including GST): $1,289.40

We’ve stopped renting for more than 4 years now and the old rental was costing us $13.99 every month. Installing a new heater and then renting it costs about $20 per month in addition to certain one-time installation fees that are charged upfront. Netting out the savings of about $750 over four years from buying out the old water heater, the new tank cost us $540. If renting the same heater costs us $20 per month, the new tank will break even in just over two years. Plus we will be on hook for any maintenance or service calls.

It seems to me that owning a water heater is much cheaper over the long run than renting it as long as you are willing to absorb the expense of an unexpected maintenance call. Perhaps, that’s why homeowners in most provinces do not bother with renting and it is time Ontarians wise up to how much renting our water heaters is costing us.

Speak Out Wireless: Another Virgin Mobile Alternative

August 6, 2008

16 comments

Yesterday’s post on Virgin Mobile’s recent service changes elicited a useful tip from Shane and Million Dollar Journey: Check out Speak Out Wireless, which is offered through 7-Eleven convenience stores, along with Petro-Canada Mobility as an alternative to Virgin Mobile. Speak Out is roughly the same as Petro-Canada Mobility — both piggy-back on the Rogers wireless network and even offer some of the same phone models but any top up at Speak Out lasts a mind-boggling 365 days, compared to 180 days at Petro-Canada.

It turns out that Speak Out is currently running a “Back to School” promotion — $75 off any phone with the purchase of $100 of air time. As readers GSP and Novice points out, depending on your usage, it probably does not make sense to pony up for another new phone as a $100 top up with Virgin Mobile still lasts one year. So, for now, I’ve decided to keep the nicer and newer phone with Virgin Mobile but upgrade the older cell phone that seems to be on its last legs and decided on Speak Out for its long expiry period.

There are two minor drawbacks with Speak Out to be aware of: (1) Top ups can only be purchased at 7-Eleven stores and there aren’t many in the Ottawa area. (2) Compared to a flat 20¢ per minute with Petro-Canada, Speak Out’s rates range from 20¢ to 25¢. Depending on your usage, there may not be much difference between Petro-Canada and Speak Out and either could be a very good choice. Lots of information and feedback can be found in the forums on the Unofficial Speak Out Wireless webpage.

If you tend to call long distance via your cell phone, here’s a tip from reader Brad: get a travel card from Yak, which charges 8.5¢ for long distance within Canada via a toll-free number and 3.5¢ for calls through a local access number. Yak also offers a yakCell service, which allows you to call long-distance through a local access number without having to enter a PIN number.

Virgin Mobile disappoints yet again

August 5, 2008

25 comments

As occasional users of cell phones, we subscribe to Virgin Mobile’s pay-as-you-go service. When I signed up initially, a $25 top-up lasted 120 days (i.e. the amount of time you have to top up to prevent your unused credit from expiring) but about two years back, Virgin Mobile reduced the expiry across the board and a $25 top-up was cut back to 90 days. Today, Virgin Mobile announced that they are yet again reducing the length of pre-paid top up expiries. The minimum top up of $15 will now last 30 days (down from 45) and a $25 top up will last 60 days (down from 90).

Fortunately, there is plenty of competition in the pre-paid cell phone service business and Petro-Canada Mobility (yes, the gas station) is now a clear winner. In contrast to Virgin Mobile, a $20 credit with Petro-Canada lasts a stunning 180 days (three times as long as the nearest competition). It so happens that both our cell phones with Virgin Mobile need a top up in the near future and I am going to vote with my wallet and move our business to Petro-Canada. The way I see it, even a high-end phone from Petro-Canada will pay for itself in less than a year as air time would cost $40 compared to $150 with Virgin Mobile’s new service changes.