Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Paloma and Propane Use

Our hot water heater, a Paloma.

We get our hot water from an on-demand, propane fired unit called a Paloma. Paloma is the name of the brand, but the name is used generically around here to mean a propane on-demand water heater.

We don't know how old our unit is because it was a used unit that the previous owners installed. But the thing is still working ok. Once it went on the fritz, but hubby was able to taken it apart is clean it well. Since then it has been doing fine. Around here you learn to repair most of your stuff yourself, since at-home repairmen are scarcer than a steel penny.

For many years we simply ran the paloma 24 hours a day. It has a pilot light, so when you turn on your hot water, the unit engages and heats the water running through it. We never gave hot water a thought. Just turn on the faucet. Earlier this year we decided to try to shave our propane dependency. So we now turn off the paloma except when we plan to take a shower. Sure, it means walking out and turning the unit on once or twice a day, but it turns out to be well worth the effort.

February 1st I installed a newly filled propane tank. One June 8th, it ran out.  That means we got 4 months plus 1 week out of that tank. Let's say for simplicity, we get 4 months out of a propane tank. That's 3 tanks a year. In 2012 we went through 6 tanks. Wow, we managed to save 3 tankfuls!!!!!  That's a good savings. 50%.

Propane tank stored below, Paloma above.
Closet is outside of the house.

We use the paloma basically just for taking showers. Since I run a woodburning stove in the morning and evening, our hot water for doing dishes and cleaning comes from a pot atop the wood stove. Oh, not every time. I do have a propane range that I use when I'm in a hurry or the woodstove is not running. And if a big bucket of hot water is needed to clean up the floor in a hurry, then the paloma is turned on. But it has become a habit to start the woodstove first thing, plop the teakettle and the big pot on top. 

Hot water for the clothes washer comes via a hose slung up on the roof. Simple. Cost nothing, other than the original cost of the hose. 

My aim is to be reasonably self reliant. And to spend as little actual cash as is feasible so that we can survive ok. Do this while at the same time live comfortably and at a lifestyle that agrees with us. Thus being able to slash our propane use for hot water in half is delightful!

I'm still awaiting on the propane use for cooking. I installed a new tank on the propane range Feb 1st. So far, it hasn't run out. So that will be another report. 


  1. "scarcer than a steel penny" - oh, so true, and the cost is proportional to what a steel penny represents, sometimes! I had a tankless heater in a house several moves ago - It was amazing to see the gas usage fall so fast! If I had stayed there longer, I would have run a pre-heat rooftop line like you have, with a holding tank, but the plumber who put the tankless unit in said it would cost almost as much as the heater itself, because the sensing and such was somehow different. Maybe if we someday find a less-costly way to change our electric range/oven to propane (I'd vastly prefer it), we could do a flash-heat boost on a solar-assist holding tank. Meantime I guess all we might do would be to put in a bypass valving on-demand thing to circulate hot to cold to pull hot water out without just running the faucet for what seems to be several minutes. The savings add up fast!

  2. I love your comment about just throwing a hose on the roof for hot water washing! LOL! Simple but affective.