Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, March 5, 2011

There's This Thing Called The Internet...


Megan McArdle has made a rare Saturday post to ask a question of her faithful readers:

We'd like to put in a tankless water heater, for a number of reasons: it's environmentally sound, it will lower our electricity bill, and I'd like to be able to run a nice, hot full bath.


The problem is, we don't know anything about tankless water heaters: what to look for, what brands are good, or whether they're a bad idea. So I'm throwing the question out to my ever-helpful readers. Is this a good idea? And if so, how does one go about finding a good heater?


"Environmentally sound"? Since when does McArdle, who just mocked electric car buyers, care about the environment? I can believe she wants to pay less for electricity although by all Galtian rights she should have invented a magic perpetual motion machine and not mooch off the intellectual labor of other, superior men and women. (Fake) libertarians never want to pay for the services they use.

My own advice would be to look up information on the internet for water heaters, tank and tankless, compare the costs and benefits, and make a decision, but conservatives are uneasy with thinking for themselves, and prefer to find someone else to do it for them or just skip that process altogether. They like to close their eyes, make a guess, and hope for the best. After all, nobody knows anything ever so failure is the best road to success. If McArdle makes the wrong decision she can just pay to fix her mistake and then make the correct choice, since the only way to learn is through trial and error. We realize that McArdle prefers for others to pay for her mistakes, such as supporting war and economic ruin, but she might have a hard time finding someone to take responsibility for this decision. Ordinarily a wife would look to her husband for assistance, but P. Suderman's expertise seems to lie elsewhere.

UPDATE: McMegan comments:

So my husband informs me that we have a gas water heater, not electric; we live in an older house with what seems to be copper piping, and our water doesn't seem to be unusually hard.


"Seems to be" copper piping? She had her home inspected, doesn't she know the material and condition of her pipes? Is she assuming that her one hundred year old rowhouse still has its copper piping and that it's all in good repair?

Oh, my.

16 comments:

KWillow said...

Consumer Reports is the place to get the info. Not the online mag. I go to the library and look thru back issues when I buy anything "iffy". Just used it to get a water-softener (Sears). She should know that, but a lot of people sneer at the notion of doing research before buying something important or expensive. It's odd.

Susan of Texas said...

It's so strange that she would bleg instead of look up the facts. It's not that difficult; some problems are too complex to solve by googling but many are not.

Anonymous said...

Asking someone else for advice will relieve you of responsibility for its failure. If she adopts a recommended solution and it fails, she gets to blame the person making the recommendation, not herself. If the recommended solution is successful, she can praise herself for the wisdom shown in recognizing it was the correct recommendation to follow.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Too bad she can't ask Mickey Kaus or Andy Sullivan anymore, those two are fountains of useful information.
~

Susan of Texas said...

I read that the Atlantic's success was due to its internet advertising, and also that Sullivan accounted for one quarter of the blog traffic.

KWillow said...

#5 on my Google search:

Consumer Reports:
"... Some makers of gas-fired tankless water heaters claim their products can cut your energy costs up to half over regular storage heaters. So is it time to switch?

Probably not. Gas tankless water heaters, which use high-powered burners to quickly heat water as it runs through a heat exchanger, were 22 percent more energy efficient on average than the gas-fired storage-tank models in our tests. That translates into a savings of around $70 to $80 per year, based on 2008 national energy costs. But because they cost much more than storage water heaters, it can take up to 22 years to break even—longer than the 20-year life of many models. Moreover, our online poll of 1,200 readers revealed wide variations in installation costs, energy savings, and satisfaction...

Brad said...

Meh, looks like tankless heaters can be had at prices on the order of her knife collection. She should just get the cutest one.

Admittedly, installation cost could be a problem. Adding together labor and materials might require a calculator--a known problem area. Might need to delegate that one.

We're supposed to think she can rip apart Elizabeth Warren's CV even though she doesn't know how to use Consumer Reports because...?

TBogg said...

She wants to buy one because it will lower her electrical bill.

Later that day...


Oh, wait. She has a gas water heater.

Jesus.

Susan of Texas said...

And this is just the beginning. If she doesn't even know how her water is heated or the condition of her pipes, maintining her home will be one joyful surprise after another.

Tom M said...

If the recommended solution is successful, she can...marry for the wisdom shown.
Fx'd. (doesn't allow strike-what is this LGM?)

Oh, to be a contractor in the McMegan's neighborhood. It could be like the real estate developer who called his yacht First Draw.

Emily said...

Our house is ~90 years old. We've had all kinds of adventures in plumbing. And we've got an advantage because my husband knows how to fix things.

The secret to surviving plumbing adventures is to keep telling yourself that this is a problem money can solve, and that any problem money can solve isn't really a problem.

NonyNony said...

It's so strange that she would bleg instead of look up the facts. It's not that difficult; some problems are too complex to solve by googling but many are not.

Perhaps McArdle is aware of her own limitations enough to realize just how bad she is at "research" and knows she'll screw it up if she tries to do it?

Wait, I just used the words "McArdle is aware of her own limitations" as part of my explanation, so that can't be right.

KWillow said...

Seems likely she heard an English friend, or maybe just someone in line at the local Starbucks, blather on-and-on about their wonderful tankless water heater, and thought she'd ask her fans what they thought about them. Perfectly reasonable and friendly. But she didn't phrase it that way, made herself sound ignorant and stupid. Surprise!

My parents-in-law in England have a tankless heater... I think they may be "in" with the well-to-do, or something. Natural Gas is expensive there, unlike here in the US, so there may be a real savings. But I detested using the shower or bath at their house... water not hot enough, only about 5 minutes of it, if that, at quite low water pressure, too. As I recall, they were impressed by our water heater (it was a 20 year old thing) when they visited in the late 90's; but it would have cost them a LOT more to operate.

Rugosa said...

I almost feel like recommending my tankless set-up (was already installed when I bought the condo). I would giggle in my lukewarm shower every morning, knowing that Megan was doing likewise.

Rugosa said...

I meant Megan would be taking a lukewarm shower, not necessarily giggling.

KWillow said...

I like the image of you and ArgleBargle, naked in the shower tho not together, giggling.

My husband says the water-pressure in England is often very low because of their old, Victorian era plumbing. Many towns don't dare have high pressure. Father-in-Law wanted to know what kind of extra pump we had (attached to our water meter or something) to get our showers so strong. Very surprised when I said we didn't have one, tho pumping stations do, I assume.

I can imagine Meg hearing that tankless heaters are "all the thing" in England, and wanting to get ahead of the Trend Curve here in the States.

She might be on to something, natural gas prices are bound to go up one of these days or years.