Ecotone Products: Hot Water Heaters & More

Upgrading Our Hot Water Heater

Hot water heater, showerheads, and accessories provided for review by Ecotone Products.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve gotten a few hints about our new hot water heater from Ecotone Products. We installed it in January, and now that we’ve had time to test it out, I wanted to report on what the process was like and how much we like our new Rheem Marathon Hot Water Heater!

Out With The Old, in With The New

The "EconoMaster"

This is our old hot water heater. Don’t let the name fool you – there was nothing energy efficient about this unit in 2014. This hot water heater was old when I moved into this house, which was almost 21 years ago – suffice to say, this thing was old. There had been quirks with this water heater for a long time (“Quirks” are homeowner-speak for “This isn’t working properly, but it’s not malfunctioning badly enough to repair just yet”), but it finally got to a point where it was unusable, randomly pumping out scaldingly hot water and then turning ice cold without warning. We were shopping for a replacement for this old piece of junk, so when I was contacted by local business Ecotone Products and offered a unit to review, it was one of those “Perfect timing” moments.

Introducing The Rheem Marathon Hot Water Heater

Rheem Marathon Water Heater

Based on our household size, Ecotone Products sent us a 40 Gallon Rheem Marathon Hot Water Heater, which retails for $889. This was smaller that our old 60 gallon hot water heater, so I was a bit concerned about not having enough hot water, but I also realized that this was about 100000000X times more energy efficient than my previous water heater, so I figured it would probably work just fine!

Rheem Marathon

Valves

This unit is sleek and attractive – doesn’t it look a bit futuristic? And its design isn’t just about aesthetics – the Marathon is also super light weight, ranging between 89 and 100 pounds. It was night and day moving this into our laundry room versus trying to lug out our old behemoth of a hot water heater!

Installation

Hot Water Heater Accessories

The unit came with a selection of accessories for installation, including earthquake straps, a large drain pan, and quick connects.

Plumbing parts

Jai also bought some needed accessories for installing the new water heater, which came to about $40. Many of these were items he bought because we wanted to update some of the plumbing surrounding the hot water heater, so what parts you buy will vary widely depending on the age of your home.

We knew this would be a big project, because anything that involves tearing up a room and revising plumbing is always involved. Happily, the project went as smoothly as possible and was finished in roughly 2 days – that’s Jai doing it all single-handedly, and updating some of our plumbing while he was at it. He recorded a video sharing his tips on how to drain a hot water heater, so you might want to check that out if this is a DIY project you are considering!

Adjusting The Settings

40 Gallon Rheem Marathon Hot Water Heater

We weren’t sure what to expect with this project, since this was the first time we had ever installed a water heater, so there was a trial and error period where we adjusted our settings to get the preferred amount of hot water. There are two thermostats on the unit, so you’ll want to make sure to adjust both; Ecotone also sent us a new, more efficient Alsons WaterSaving Massage Showerhead. Now that we’ve made the adjustments and upgrades, I’m very happy with the hot water heater’s performance – maybe a little too much so, since I’ve been loving the fact that I can take long, hot showers to relax! ;)

Alsons WaterSaving Massage Showerhead

Efficient

As the name suggests, Ecotone is concerned with providing products that are energy efficient and conserve water. Just about anything would have been better than my old hot water heater, and I’m especially pleased to have both an efficient hot water heater as well as a new, water-saving shower fixture, as all of these things will save on energy and water. Marathon heaters are insulated with “Envirofoam”, which purports to lose only 5% of the heat stored inside over 24 hours if you experience a power outage – which of course, we get in Seaside all the time! This unit is also designed to be durable, rust resistant, leak resistant, and comes with a lifetime warranty if it should spring a leak. Can’t argue with that!

Rheem Marathon Hot Water Heater: More Photos

Here’s a few more product shots provided by Ecotone, if you’d like to get a view of this hot water heater without my purple laundry room as a backdrop! ;) Click on the thumbnails for a larger view:

Marathon MR50245-2

Marathon MR50245-6

Marathon MR50245-8

Ecotone Products: A Local Business

Ecotone

Ecotone Products are based out of Fairview, Oregon, making them a great choice for us locals! In fact, PDX residents may have already experienced some of Ecotone’s products without realizing it, as you can find their showerheads at the Paramount Hotel and Marathon water heaters in every yacht at Christensen Yachts in Vancouver.

You can visit their online store at GPConservation.com – they have a number of Rheem Marathon water heaters available, as well as showerheads, heaters, and more. You can call them at (503) 907-2899 with questions or shoot them an email at sales@gpconservation.com.

Storm in Oregon 2012: Power Outage & A Morning Spent With Seaside Fire Department

This has been a crazy morning! A big storm hit the Oregon coast last night with winds reaching close to 100 mph. The wind is still howling as I write this, and we just got power back after it was out for most of the morning. The video above was taken outside my front door about 2 hours ago – pretty windy!

When the power went out, I used my battery backup to connect to the Internet and send emails to clients before my laptop battery died. I then switched to my phone and was able to take care of a few things before the battery backup ran out and cut power to the Internet. Jai and I then got into the car and headed over to Grandma’s to check on her and see if we could find any wifi in the area so that I could get back to work. This was what we saw when we pulled up:

Firetruck

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Broken window
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The upper window in Grandma’s house was damaged and the local fire department were there to secure it. During the last big storm in 2007 when we had hurricane force winds, the entire window had gotten sucked out. This time both the glass AND windowframe got sucked out by the wind and were only being held in place because they got caught on the curtains, which a neighbor noticed when she saw part of the curtain hanging outside the window. This is a large window on the upper floor of the house and would pose a hazard once the window fell out, so the neighbors drove down to the fire department to get help since the phones weren’t working.

Firetruck in the storm

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Firemen

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When we arrived, there were six firemen securing the a large tarp on the inside of the house so that if/when the window and frame fall out today, the wind, rain and glass will be kept on the outside. The firemen then went outside and got on a ladder in the howling wind to nail boards over the window to secure it as best as possible until the storm passes and a repairman can be brought out. Grandma wants to write a letter to the local paper to commend these awesome firemen for helping her. They were so nice and even stopped to wipe their boots before they came in her house!

While we were there, the power came back on, so now I’m back at home so that I can hopefully get some work done; Jai is with Grandma at the moment in case anything else comes up, like the rest of the window blowing out. The wind is supposed to continue until 4 PM this afternoon and my power/Internet is flickering occasionally, so this may affect what content I’ll be able to publish today – thanks for bearing with me! We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled content once this storm passes!

Fun Stocking Stuffers From Cook in Color!

Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Stocking Stuffers

Monkey business!

When you grow up, the type of gifts you look forward to change. Kids often get bored by “Practical” gifts, but when you grow up, you sure get excited to get things you can really use! But that’s not to say that the magic and fun of the holidays can’t still be captured in something useful. And that, my friends, is why I’m loving Cook in Color!

This local, Portland-based business offers kitchen utensils that are bright, silly, and fun in addition to being incredibly useful! They recently sent me a complimentary package so that I could get a feel for their products, and when I opened it up, I was greeted by the smiling face of a Monkey Veggie Peeler! This cheerful peeler is cleverly designed to look like a monkey and I get a kick out of it every time I see it. What a fun way to jazz up something that every household needs – can’t you just picture this peeking out of a stocking on Christmas morning? And it’s not all looks: This is a solidly made peeler that I have been using for a few months now. In fact, I just got done having a big Halloween party on Wednesday, and Jai used this to help me peel 3 large bags of carrots – so as cute as it is, there was no monkeying around when it came to getting the job done!

Cook in Color has a variety of fun, fantastic gifts that would be great for parents, young couples, college kids, foodies – pretty much anybody! And it’s not just for adults: They also have a special line of products designed just for kids, from a Junior Bake Set to mini chef hats!

The Monkey Veggie Peeler retails for $6.99 – visit CookinColor.com to check out their full line of products for adults and children. And for those of you in the Portland area, you will be interested to know that they also offer cooking classes and parties for kids – click here for more info on that!

Experience Gifts From Cloud 9 Living: How I Learned to Scuba Dive

Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Gifts For Adults

Cloud 9 Living

It’s been said that the best things in life aren’t things, a sentiment which rings very true. Although holiday shopping usually consists of finding a useful or fun item for the people we love, there is more and more of a movement towards non-traditional “Experience” gifts – such as buying a gift certificate so that your recipient can try something they’ve always wanted to do. There have been studies that suggest that those who spend their money on experiences, rather than products, are happier overall. While material items are not a bad thing, it definitely makes sense to me that those who are more focused on making memories rather than buying a ton of stuff for the sake of it have a more enriched life.

So when Cloud 9 Living offered me a chance to try a complimentary experience gift of my own, I was delighted to take them up on the offer and see what kind of adventures I’d have. They have a number of experiences available in Portland, and they all looked equally fun to me, so I asked Jai to pick which one he’d like to do. Since he has a life-long fascination with marine life, enjoys learning new skills, and also likes the water, it then seemed like a no-brainer to pick the “Discover Scuba for 2“! This experience consisted of scuba diving lessons at an indoor pool in the Aquatic Sports building on SW Barbur Boulevard.

Wetsuits modeled by fish!

Our lesson took place on Saturday, and we were excited to see what it would be like! Aquatic Sports is a combination one-stop scuba shop with a pool for lessons and practice. It’s a mellow location with very nice staff, which I liked – I wasn’t sure if this was going to be like a busy public pool, so I appreciated that it was specifically for scuba divers.

'70s scuba magazine

Old scuba helmet

The store was full of interesting items, including covers from 1970′s scuba magazines to this great old helmet!

Spearguns

Air supply (Not the band!)

After we looked around, we sat down at a table made from a surfboard and filled out some basic safety forms. Our instructor then met us and told us to go ahead and change into our bathing suits and meet him down at the pool to get suited up.

Panorama of Aquatic Sports

Click on the photo above to see a panorama that Jai took of the pool

First, he had us try on goggles to get the right fit, and then we got into the pool and put on fins, doing a few test laps to warm up. We then strapped on our packs – mine was pink, which I obviously loved! ;) The pack goes over your shoulders and contains equipment such as the air supply and your mouthpiece. It’s quite heavy on land, but not so bad in water.

Our instructor walked us through some of the basic operation and we began dunking our heads into the water to get used to breathing with the scuba equipment. Jai and I have actually had really bad colds over the last week, so I was super congested, which made the experience of trying to breathe underwater a little more disconcerting. Breathing completely through your mouth takes some getting used to, and I realized I had to pace my breathing a little differently that I would normally. At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it, because I felt panicky sticking my head under water and feeling short of breath while I adjusted. Although I knew intellectually that there was no way I could drown, the feeling of being underwater and struggling for air triggers that panicky lizard brain reflex! (Insert a “Harder to Breathe” joke here! ;) ) However, the instructor was really nice and was fine with letting us go at our own pace – while I got comfortable with breathing underwater, Jai was able to swim around and do other things, so I was able to go at my own pace without holding anyone else up. We were the only two students in there, which was also nice!

Beeb & Jai scuba diving

Since I was able to move at a rate I felt more comfortable with, I was able to relax and started getting comfortable the scuba gear and breathing. As we got into our lesson, the instructor offered to take us down into the deep end of the pool. He went over the process with us and said that it would be important to adjust the pressure in your head by holding your nose and clearing it, and also that once you get down further into the pool, you can’t immediately rush to the surface if you want out because of the pressure. Because I was incredibly stuffed up, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try the deep end since I wouldn’t be able to clear my head as required, and the idea of being stuck in the deep end without having the option to immediately get back to the top was not at all appealing to me. So Jai and the instructor went into the deep end and I stayed in the shallow end and continued to practice breathing. This was absolutely perfect for me, because I was able to learn all the important aspects of scuba diving without having to do anything scary or uncomfortable. Really, I think getting comfortable with the process is the most important part – once you do that, swimming around will just come naturally. I saw underwater in the shallow end like a mermaid and watched Jai and the instructor swimming around in the deep end – it was really fun and neat!

Scuba diving!

Thanks to our awesome scuba instructor for taking these photos of us scuba diving!

Jai was a natural, as I had expected. He said that he’d already spent time thinking about what the process must be like and imagining how all the equipment works – he’s very analytical like that – so when he got in the water, it all worked just like he thought it would and he was off and running, er, swimming that is! He really enjoyed getting the opportunity to learn more about scuba diving and have a chance to experience what it’s like. We both feel like we gained a useful skill that could come in handy down the road as further opportunities present themselves. I absolutely hope to go scuba diving again!

The Cloud 9 website mentioned on the booking page that the lesson averages between 1 and a half to 2 hours, but ours actually lasted about 45 minutes. We definitely got a lot out of our time – it would have been nice if there was maybe more structure or information about the timing of the lesson, as I would have used some of my time in the water a little differently if I had know what the scheduling was going to be. But we got a lot of great information and experience out of it and really enjoyed meeting all the nice staff at Aquatic Sports. Jai has always wanted to try scuba diving and I’m always down for a new adventure!

Last but not least, I was thrilled that I could even consider doing this. A few months ago, I was still struggling to walk with my knee injury – and now I’m scuba diving! If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is! I even kneeled down in the pool at the beginning of the lesson – and I pretty much haven’t kneeled down since I hurt knees in the first place. So I’m thrilled that not only did I have the chance to experience this new adventure, but that I am even in the kind of health to be able to try it at all! What could be better?

If you have the resources to consider an experience gift, I would definitely recommend it. We’ll never forget our weekend scuba diving – it gave us skill and memories to last a lifetime!

To check out all of the experience gifts on offer, visit the Cloud 9 Living website to see what is on offer in your area. The “Discover Scuba For 2″ retails for $125; and for those of you in the local area, be sure to check out Aquatic Sports at 10803 Southwest Barbur Boulevard in Portland, Oregon.


9 Days of Christmas Contest

Want to win your own unforgettable experience? From December 16th through the 24th, Cloud 9 Living is hosting a “9 Days of Christmas” contest where they will give away a new experience gift each day. The prizes include everything from a golf lessons from a PGA pro to a dinner cruise to the grand prize of becoming a fighter pilot for a day! You won’t want to miss out, so click here for all the entry details.

Wordless Wednesday: Fire in Seaside

Fire Line - Do Not Cross

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Fire in Seaside

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Building destroyed by fire

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Fire damage

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OK, this one isn’t “Wordless”, but I just couldn’t post pictures like this with no explanation. Yesterday afternoon, Grandma called us and said, “Have you looked out the window?” She could see a big black cloud of smoke coming from near the downtown area here in Seaside. As it turned out, a fire had broken out that morning. Three buildings were destroyed by the blaze, which is believed to have started in a laundromat from currently unknown causes. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries while getting the fire under control, which they have been treated and released for according to this article at The Daily Astorian. After I dropped off a package at the post office yesterday, Jai and I walked down the street to see what had happened, which is when I took these photographs. Best wishes going out to everyone affected by this sad event.

Friday Night at The Beach

Jai and I just got back from the beach, where I was able to stretch my knees with a physiotherapy walk while Jai got a workout running with Grandma’s dog Bob. It’s a lovely evening – we got there right at sunset, so I was able to snap a few fun photos. The beach was relatively empty – at least at the spot we chose – but promises to be jam-packed over the weekend due to the Hood to Coast relay race. There was a fire in St. Helens that has caused part of the race to be re-routed, but it sounds like it’s still going pretty much on schedule.

Loosen Rope to Signal Life Guard

Surfers in the sunset

Life Guard Flag System

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Bag It Forward With Elmer’s Glue: My Simple Service Party

Bag It Forward

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I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Elmer’s. #BagItForward #CBias #SocialFabric

Shopping for back-to-school supplies is a rite of passage this time of year. But while many children are getting excited to pick out a new lunchbox or sparkly pens, there are too many others who go without. And with budgets tight for everyone, it may seem like it’s impossible to make a real difference. And that’s why Elmer’s started Bag It Forward, a wonderful campaign that aims to inspire communities to get involved. By coming together to share what we have – no matter how small that may be – we can easily make a difference for kids in need!

I recently had the opportunity to host a Bag It Forward Simple Service Party to collect school supplies for children here in Clatsop County. I printed up special invitations and invited my friends and family to join me in my home for coffee, tea, and conversation. I invited each guest to bring along a school supply item to donate to the cause, and since I’m Super Coupon Girl, I included a list of great deals on school supplies at local stores as inspiration.

Elmer's Glue

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For my own donation, I headed over to Walmart on Saturday morning and was able to pick up a nice assortment of pens, pencils, crayons, tape, paper, notebooks, scissors, Elmer’s Glue, Post-It Notes, an awesome X-Acto pencil sharpener, and a backpack for $25.48 total. I supplemented my donation with an educational DVD, storybooks and a CD, all of which were brand-new products that I received in connection with the reviews and features that I write on this site. Although these were all modest in terms of cost, they made for a surprisingly large backpack stuffed with things to donate!

My Bag It Forward sign!

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In preparation for my party, I used my Elmer’s Painters Paint Markers to make this sign and decorate a box for the donations to go in! I set up one table for donations and one table for refreshments.

This week has been a crazy one with lots of twists and turns, so I wasn’t sure how many people would be able to make it. August is such a busy time of year, and my guests had about a week of notice for my party. Plus, it was being hosted at 10 AM, which isn’t prime party time for a lot of people. But I had a wonderful turnout! My family and friends all made a concerted effort to come, and I was so touched by their support and their incredibly generous donations.

My party guests Bagging It Forward

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Each person had a unique and special contribution:

  • When my future father-in-law got the invitation, he went out and bought a ton of school supplies to donate totaling over $35!
  • Jai’s aunt and uncle flew into town this week from out of state to attend our annual family reunion. They have both worked in the education field their entire careers, so this cause is especially important to them. I didn’t realize this, but they heard about my party before they left, so they actually packed their suitcases full of school supplies and took them on the plane all the way from Arizona so that they could bring them to the party!
  • Two of our friends headed to one of the stores listed on my invitation and picked up a big bag full of stuff. They said they were shocked when their total after sales was only $3 – talk about making a big difference on a budget!
  • Grandma has been sick all week and never got a chance to leave the house or go shopping. But wouldn’t you know it, she looked in her office supplies and found a beautiful, brand new box of oil pastels, so she brought that to the party!

I can’t tell you how touched I was by everyone’s kindness and contributions. I feel so lucky to know such a wonderful group of people.

Lighthouse Christian Church

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The organization that I decided to benefit was the Lighthouse Christian Church. Our aunt is very active in this church and so I often hear about the programs which the church runs. Because of this, I was aware of several different programs which they run which could definitely benefit from school supplies. After my party, we all drove over to the church to unload the items.

Staff of the church and Sunday school students with the #BagItForward donation

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Here is some of the church’s staff, along with the children from the Sunday school, posing with the items collected from my Simple Service Party. Look at all that stuff that my amazing friends and family brought! Everyone at the church was so happy and appreciative. Because they run various programs, they were going to divide these supplies up and distribute them according to greatest need. Some supplies will go to the Sunday school and Vacation Bible School, and some will be packaged up individually and given to families in the church who are in need of school items for their children.

Seaside Christian Co-op Preschool

If you are in the local area and would like to help out, check out the Lighthouse Church Website for contact information and more about their programs. They always welcome donations.


More Photos

Click the thumbnails below to see more photos of this project and the donations that were collected:

School Supply Drive InvitationElmer's 1st Day AppSelection of Elmer's Glitter Glue at WalmartBag It Forward Party DecorationsCoffee & TeaMy Simple Service Party Simple Service Party GuestsDonations Collected at The PartyDonating School Supplies to The Lighthouse Christian ChurchClose-up Photo of The Donated SuppliesSo Many Donations, They Wouldn't All Fit in One Photo!

For more photos and details on my Simple Service Party and Bag It Forward, be sure to check out my Google+ Album by clicking here!

When we think of all the need in our communities, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. How can our small contributions really make a difference? But with a little help from our friends, our individual actions can add up to something big. You’d be amazed at how your inner circle of friends and family can come together to help you in your efforts to aid those in need. Even though it’s hectic time of the year and guests had fairly short notice about my party, I was blown away by the effort they all made to join my early-morning party and how extremely generous they were.

And Elmer’s is making it even easier to give back – even if you don’t have a penny to spare – through the Elmer’s 1st Day app. For every photo uploaded through the app, Elmer’s will donate one product to the Kids In Need Foundation, up to 200,000 products. How fabulous is that?! And in addition to helping a great cause, this app is also a fun way to capture and share those special photos of your kids heading back to school! You can download the app by clicking here, or look for the 1st Day display in Walmart stores by the school supplies – you can download the app while in the store just by scanning the QR code on the display!

For further inspiration on how you can #BagItForward and help out kids in your community, be sure to check out the Bag It Forward Pinterest board. And for even more ideas, check out Elmer’s on Twitter and Facebook.

Portland Area: Meet & Greet With Katie Cazorla of “Nail Files” Plus Free Mini-Manicures on August 12th-13th

Katie Cazorla

Local readers: There’s a fun event coming up on Sunday and Monday that you’ll want to check out! Katie Cazorla, star of TV Guide Network’s reality show “Nail Files”, is coming to Portland for a meet and greet with fans. During the event, participants will also have the chance to receive a free mini-manicure, so it will be a fun day! Here’s the full details on the times and locations:

Sunday, August 12th at 11:00AM – 6:00PM

Clackamas Town Center

12000 SE 82nd Ave

Portland, OR 97086

Monday, August 13th at 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Xfinity Retail Store

7037 NE Sandy Blvd

Portland, OR 97220