Home > Archive: April, 2024

Archive for April, 2024

Thursday thoughts

April 18th, 2024 at 10:01 pm

I am getting a very eye-opening look at dental costs in retirement by taking my father around on his appointments.

He recently had two root canals, both of which required 2 or maybe even 3 trips to the dentist, and that was several thousand dollars. I thought we were finally back to the "routine" trips where we alternate between his regular dentist and his periodontist every 3 months, but today, the periodontist said they wanted to do another scaling, to the tune of $1,740.

Dad wants to put it off. He said he'll likely die with a wonderful set of teeth. At 91, there are things he doesn't like doing, and he only brushes once daily without flossing. I don't think these big looming expenses will make much difference in his dental hygiene.

Kind of a similar thing with the physical therapy he finished maybe 6 months ago. He's found that, not keeping up the exercises he learned there has led to the return of pain in his leg, and he wants to return to PT by self-paying, but I learned today he'll likely have to ask his doctor for it and either be accepted or denied by Medicare before he can choose to self-pay. I urged him to try to do some...any of the exercises he could, but that won't likely happen.

Today after the periodontist we had a lovely lunch at a favorite restaurant...

We both got the chicken piccata...probably the best I've ever had.

The chocolate souffle with pistachio ice cream was also very good.

And after that I drove to an open space area where we sat in the woods by a trout stream and I read dad a story about President Tyler from my phone. Dad loves history. We are reading all about the US Presidents (in sequential order) each time I come to visit. and we are up to the 11th president.

This is where we sat on a rainy, cold Thursday to talk about the presidents.

Next weekend I'll be taking him to his local library where they'll have a program on what was going on in his town during the Civil War. Should be interesting.

Now that I've got my $650 rebate for the heat pump water heater, I've become interested in a new state program that involves a whole house battery.  You can get them installed in your basement with or without solar panels on the roof. The utility company pays you twice a month or so for the entire 10-year warranty of the batteries, as payment for using this power during periods of high usage, mostly in the summer. They won't take energy from your batteries 2 days prior to a forecast storm, so that you have it should you experience an outage. In that case, the batteries would provide up to 18 additional hours of power, depending on what you want them to power. For me, the main thing would be the furnace, hot water heater and fridge; afer that, my Eco "power station" that I bought a few years back would provide another day of power for just my fridge/freezer.

The state is trying to use this program to build up to 10 megawatts of reserve power to more evenly regulate power supply; once they get a certain number of homeowners who cumulatively add up to 10 megawatts, they will go to the next phase where they pay the next group of homeowners a little less money, and so on, so the first tier is the one that pays the most. I'd like to do it this year, but if I'm to continue keeping my 2024 income modest, in order to remain eligible for a healthcare subsidy, I'll have to wait til next year; hopefully they'll still be working to build the first tier.

Generally speaking the state seeks to get more homeowners to upgrade appliances to electrical power supplies, which are cleaner than fossil fuels like gas or oil. I am very happy with my heat pump hot water heater and couldn't believe how much it reduced my monthly electrictiy bill.

I did a litter cleanup with a few other women from my women's group at a Tibetan monastery nearby. The grounds were very pretty and they treated us to a moma (Tibetan dumpling) lunch.

This weekend there's a beach cleanup about 45 minutes away that I'll be attending.

Energy-efficient appliance rebate nightmare

April 12th, 2024 at 11:37 pm

Today I learned a valuable lesson: to be very, very careful when deciding to purchase new, energy-efficient appliances that come with a state-offered rebate. Namely, MAKE SURE your plumber is in the state program network of qualified installers, and also print out that rebate form ahead of time to get every single bit of information requested on it, preferably before installation. Or better yet, find a plumber who can offer you the "instant rebate" and take it off the price of installation right then and there.

The appliance in question is a heat pump water heater, which I like very much. It's working seamlessley and is saving me quite a lot on my electric bill.

So my state offers a $650 rebate, which is on top of the $1,115 federal tax credit you get. But the program is run by a 3rd party company located in Massachusetts. I had submitted my rebate form in January by snail mail because the yellow (3rd copy) receipt I got from my plumber was very faint and hard to read, so I made a special trip to Staples to make a better copy.

They discourage you from calling before 3 months is up, so I waited about that long before calling them this week about the status of the rebate, and they claimed they never got the application. Fortunately, I'd made copies of the form but I had to reenter all of it on their online system, but then I kept getting emails from them saying I was missing this, or I was missing that.  Then they'd send another email about something else and  had to deal with it again.

I mean, they requested information that didn't even appear on the original rebate form (!), so why are they asking for it now? They asked for info that even my plumber didn't know (the AFUE), for the old equipment, which he removed and disposed of, so I had to call the company that bought out Sears and the rep said there WAS NO AFUE number for electric hot water heaters.

They wouldn't accept the recieipt from my plumber because it didn't say "Paid in Full," it just said "Paid Ck #301." At this point, I didn't want to have to involve my plumber and I imagined it would be near impossible to get their attention for a nonpaying matter.  So I asked the rebate company if they would accept a cancelled check from my bank, and they said no. Who doesen't accept a cancelled check? That's a pretty bonafide proof of payment.

Another stumbling block, per the company, was that my plumber was not in their "network." My plumber's wife said her husband had been unaware that he had to be part of this "network" in order for me to qualify for the rebate, and so not only did they provide me a Paid in Full recept for payment, but they had also begun the process of joining the network, but apparently it was quite involved and they gave up.

In the meantime, I spent the past 2 days trying to supply this firm everything they asked for, as mentioned above, but I'd become so frustrated by their over-zealousness.

So yesterday I had a Zoom board meeting with the nonprofit group I volunteer for, and we had a few minutes to wait for others to join the call, and since I had just gotten off another stressful call with the rebate company, I started to vent about what I'd been going through. One of the board members on the call, J., spoke up. I knew he was a retired former state represenative, but what I didn't know was that he was the architect of the state rebate program that I was complaining about! He told me the name of a state senator to contact to cut thru the red tape. I mean, talk about serendipity!   I was actually getting ready to contact the senator but first I  composed a lengthy letter complaining about their process and told them it this wasn't resolved soon I would go ahead and contact not only the senator, but our state DEP and PURA (regulatory agency) as well.

As it turned out, I didn't have to do any of that. I heard from my plumber's wife tonight; when they realized how difficult joining the network would be, they reached out to their supplier and the supplier paid the $650 to the plumber, who in turn will send me a check for the same amount this weekend.

I won't now contact the senator, but I think I will follow through and contact DEEP and PURA to tell them what an uphill battle applying for this rebate was. I can't be the only one stymied by this process, and I feel sad that people are incenticized to upgrade to a more energy-efficient appliance by the rebate, only to find it nearly impossible to comply with every requirement. I am very pro-energy efficiency/pro-environment, and I think programs like this one are so valuable and helpful to residents wanting to do the right thing, IF they are well-managed.

In other news, I'm doing a litter cleanup at a nearby Nepalese monastery tomorrow. They'll be serving us a complementary Nepalese dumpling lunch, which I'm looking forward to. I recruited 3 other women from a Facebook over 50 women's group to join me.

I have my first case of poison ivy, just a single little spot on my right hand. It isn't usually that bad this time of year because the leaves have not yet come out, but I  must've touched the twiggy vertical vine thing that emerges from the ground, of which I saw many while working in the yard during the eclipse.

Did anyone feel the East Coast earthquake???

April 5th, 2024 at 02:40 pm

Wow, I just experienced my first earthquake, confirmed by a bunch of other people on Facebook in my hometown. Apparently it was centered in Lebanon, NJ, registering 4.8.

It lasted about 10 seconds max here. The house was shuddering/shaking, but there was no wind, so earthquake came to mind.

This may be commonplace where you live, but it's a first for me!