Q - I have considered getting a whirlpool bathtub for my home. Does it cost much for the electricity to operate a whirlpool tub, and what factors should I consider in selecting one? E.Y.
A - Installing a whirlpool bathtub can be an excellent investment. In addition to the enjoyment you'll get, you'll typically receive nearly the full cost at resale and improve the salability of your home.The amount of electricity consumed by a whirlpool tub itself is not great.
Most whirlpool tub pumps have a 3/4-horsepower motor. The electricity to operate it costs only about a couple of cents per use.
The primary energy usage is for heating the water to fill the tub. With an average-efficiency gas water heater, it costs an average of about 40 cents to heat the water for a 100-gallon tub. Depending on your local utility rates, it can cost one to two times more with an electric water heater.
When selecting a whirlpool bathtub, there are several important features to consider - the tub material, the number and control of water jets, and shape of the tub.
There are five basic tub materials - steel, gel-coat fiberglass, press-molded fiberglass, acrylic, and cast iron. Enameled steel tubs are usually the least expensive, and enameled cast iron tubs are the most expensive.
In a tub made of metal, the water tends to cool down faster, so the water heating cost may be slightly higher.
Most residential tubs are made of the fiberglass or acrylic. They are better insulators, light-weight, and available in many shapes. The color goes completely through the press-molded fiberglass and acrylic materials, so scratches and nicks are less apparent.
The water jets in the whirlpool tubs inject a mixture of water and air.
Generally a larger tub has more jets, but more jets are not necessarily better. A few high-capacity jets can provide a very soothing effect.
Check the maximum flow capacity rating specifications on the water jets.
Also, check the amount of rotation of the water jets. You may want to change the direction and whirlpool action. By changing the water/air mixture ratio, you can vary the intensity of the whirlpool action, too.
The shape of the tub is usually a matter of personal preference. Smoothshaped tubs tend to keep the streams of water more active. The standard rectangular tubs take up less space and are better for smaller bathrooms.
You can write to me for Utility Bills Update No. 362 showing a buyer's guide of these features for major manufacturers of whirlpool tubs and a chart showing the energy usage at various utility rates. Write to James Dulley, The Deseret News, 2654 Jessup Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45239. Please include 75 cents (no checks, please) and a self-addressed envelope.
Q - I have an older house which I plan to make more energy-efficient. It has asbestos siding and probably some asbestos in the insulation. What is the best way to handle it? G. B.
A - If you think there may be asbestos in the materials in your house, contact the U.S. Consumers Product Safety Commission about the proper handling methods - (800) 638-CPSC or in Maryland, (800) 492-8104.
Airborne asbestos fibers are the most dangerous. For the outdoor materials like siding and shingles, painting them often reduces the airborne asbestos particles. Avoid breaking the suspect materials into pieces. When working with other loose materials, wet them with a fine mist of water first.