Sunday, April 20, 2014

New Car Smell- Use an Air Purifier in Your Car

Use an Air Purifier in Your Car- Get That New Car Smell

Today I used my Shop Vac to vacuum out the grime that had accumulated in my car over the winter.  I also used some Lemon Pledge furniture cleaner to clean the dashboard and plastic trim.  I was out of Armor All, and the Lemon Pledge worked great.

When I was done, my car was pretty clean inside, but it didn't smell clean.  My dogs enjoy going for rides, and my car smelled sort of doggy and stale, and a bit lemony from the Lemon Pledge spray.

I decided to bring out the big gun.  I just got a New Comfort 6 stage air purifier for my house.  It has 6 stages of filtration and can handle a 3,000 square foot area.  I decided to use this in my car.  I cracked the window just enough to get an extension cord in.

How to Use an Air Purifier in Your Car
How to Use an Air Purifier in Your Car- Run an Extension Cord Through the Window
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Next, I folded down the back seat so the air from the trunk could circulate as well and turned it on high.

Home Air Purifier Running in the Back Seat of My Car
Home Air Purifier Running in the Back Seat of My Car
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Get the New Car Smell Using an Air Purifier

The best way to address odors is to eliminate the source of the odor.  I vacuumed all of the fur and dust that I could, and got rid of some winter mittens and other gear that can hold odor.  Running the air purifier will remove odors from the air using its charcoal filter and some of the other filters as well.  As odor is released, the air purifier absorbs it and over time the source of the odor is exhausted.

Of course, you can buy an air freshener for your car for a couple bucks, but the chemical smell gives me headaches.  I wanted my air to actually be clean, so I cleaned it using my house air purifier.

Use an Air Purifier to Get that New Car Smell
Use an Air Purifier to Get that New Car Smell
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

If your car has cigarette odor, you can use the ozone setting on an air purifier.  I did not use the ozone production on mine- ozone is hazardous and can damage plastic parts.

You can learn more about the New Comfort air purifier here.  This air purifier moves a lot of air and has filter stages that remove pollen, dust, germs and odors from your air.  This air purifier even has a UV light that kills viruses and bacteria.

Air Purifier for Cars

If you want to purify the air in your car all the time when you are driving, you can get air purifiers for cars that run on 12V power.  Some of these filters have features similar to home air filters, but are smaller and have less air circulation capacity.

What is the New Car Smell?  Is it Toxic?

The "new car smell" in a new car is actually the smell of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds off gassing from the upholstery, glues, and plastic materials in the new car.  People think of the new car smell as a good thing since it is associated with new cars, but it is not very healthy to breathe.  If you have a new car- or a new house-you might want to use an air purifier to absorb the harmful chemicals or leave your windows down to let that new car smell air out.

Recommended Reading:
The Sales Pitch: How to Sell Anything is an article about how a great sales pitch can get people to buy things they don't need and can't afford.  How do great salesmen get you to buy things?

Copyright © 2014 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Is Remodeling A Good Investment?

Should I Remodel my Kitchen and Bathroom?

Dear Dr. Penny Pincher,

Our house was built in 1912. The kitchen and bathrooms are dated and probably need updating.  For example the kitchen countertops are circa 1980. The bathrooms were updated about the same time.  Both areas are acceptable functionally and aesthetically. Due to our age we will probably sell the house and move to and apartment or condo in the future. Should we consider doing updates to enhance the value and selling potential of the house or leave both areas as they are?  What are other considerations in this decision?


A Penny Pincher Follower

Dear Follower,

It is always painful to spend money, but it is less painful when you know you can get some or all of your money back.  Real estate is generally a good investment, but a real estate investment comes with expenses such as paying property taxes and upkeep on the property.

The good news about kitchen and bath remodeling projects is that you typically get about 50 to 70% of the money you spend on remodeling back in the form of increased property value.  For example, if you spend $10,000 on kitchen and bath upgrades you may be able to sell your home for $5,000 to $7,000 more.  As you can see, you do not typically get all of the money you spend on remodeling back.

Kitchen and bath remodeling are among the highest payback projects that you can do.  If you have the money, remodeling projects can be rewarding and can help you stay in your current house longer.  When you sell your house, you'll likely pay around 6% commission to a real estate agent.  It may be worth spending some money to avoid that expense.  This article has some estimates of how much different remodeling projects add to the value of your home.  I think some of these numbers seem a bit high, but this provides an idea of what type of projects add the most value.

While a good remodeling project can increase the value of a home, a poorly done project or unfinished project can decrease the value of a home.  A lot of potential home buyers will not even consider buying a house that needs work done.  

I would suggest setting a budget for your remodeling project and trying to get the most improvement you can for your budget.  It is a good idea to get estimates from several contractors and pick one with good references.

Good Luck!

Copyright © 2014 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Monday, April 14, 2014

Whole House Air Purifier: New Comfort with HEPA, UV, Ozone, Charcoal, and More

Whole House Air Purifier

Whole House Air Purifier
New Comfort Whole House Air Purifier with 6 Stages of Filtration
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I have kids and pets in my household, and became interested in an air purifier after a Rainbow Vacuum demonstration.  One of the great things about a Rainbow vacuum cleaner is that it can function as an air purifier as well.  I already had a vacuum cleaner, and I learned that you can get high quality whole house air purifiers for much less than the cost of a Rainbow vacuum- $2,300 for a new one!

I found a great whole house air purifier for under $200.  It has 6 stages of filtration- much more than the 2 stages that a Rainbow vacuum offers.  Unlike the air purifiers that I found at the local Target store, the New Comfort air purifier can handle a much larger space.  The ones at the store could handle a few hundred square feet and cost between $150 to $200.  The New Comfort handles 3,000 square feet.  This will easily cover my entire house.  The unit weighs about 12 pounds and stands about 1 foot tall.  I got the black model, but it is also available with a real wood case or with a clear case.

New Comfort 6 Stage Air Purifier

The New Comfort air purifier has the following stages of filtration to remove dust, allergens, and odors:
  • HEPA filter- removes dust and particulates.  The HEPA filter is washable!
  • UV light- kills germs, bacteria, and viruses
  • Ozone generator- ozone can remove odors, but I don't plan to use it.  More on ozone later...
  • Photo-catalytic filter- removes mold spores, odors, and bacteria
  • Charcoal filter- removes odors
  • Negative Ion filtration- removes pollen and allergens

Whole House Air Purifier- Filter Access
New Comfort Air Purifier- Filters Are Easily Accessible in the Back.
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

The New Comfort air purifier can move a lot of air through these stages of filtration.  The unit has a control knob to control the fan speed from low to high speed.  At the high setting, the New Comfort can circulate enough air to handle a 3,000 square foot space.

Is Ozone Safe in an Air Purifier?

One selling point of the New Comfort air purifier is that it has a knob that allows you to easily turn the ozone production completely off.  I mentioned above that I was not planning to use the ozone generation capability of the air purifier.  Here's why:

Some people claim that ozone is great for removing odors from air and makes air smell fresh and clean like outdoor air.  However, ozone is one of the key components in smog and is known to cause respiratory issues.  Even the product documentation says that ozone is to be used in "uninhabited space".  Ozone has a half life of about 30 minutes, so if you use ozone I would treat it like a hazardous substance- minimize your exposure to it.   Here is a link to a fact sheet produced by the Connecticut Department of Public Health that describes the hazard of using ozone from air purifiers.

The New Comfort air purifier does have a knob to control the ozone generation from low to high and to turn the ozone generation completely off.  If I ever sell my air purifier, having the ozone generation capability will increase its resale value.  I recommend that you do some research before you decide to use ozone generation, starting with the link above.

Whole House Air Purifier- Test Drive

I received my New Comfort 6 stage air purifier today and set it up immediately.  I plan to move it from my upstairs to my downstairs occasionally.  It was easy to set up and get running.  The filters are easily accessible and removable for cleaning or replacement.

The controls are simple:  there is a power switch on the back of the unit, and 2 knobs on the front of the unit.  There is a knob to control ozone- I plan to leave this one in the off position.  The second knob controls the fan speed.  The fan noise increases at higher fan speeds.  I plan to use the low or medium fan speed most of the time.  A green light indicates when the fan is on, and a red light indicates when ozone generation is on.

My house smells fresher already, and I am looking forward to breathing less dust and germs.  If you have issues with odors, dust, or allergies in your house, the New Comfort 6 stage air purifier should make a big improvement in your indoor air quality.

Recommended Reading:
The Sales Pitch: How to Sell Anything is an article that describes the sales pitch for a Rainbow Vacuum in detail.

Copyright © 2014 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rainbow Vacuum: Find the Cheapest Rainbow Vacuum Price

Rainbow Vacuum Price

If you have had the sales pitch from a Rainbow Vacuum distributor and are looking for a cheaper way to get a Rainbow, you are in the right place!

I had the sales pitch last week- it was very impressive.  A young lady came to my house and gave a demo of the Rainbow air purifier and Rainbow vacuum.  The Rainbow uses a water tank as its filter.  You don't need any bags or filters- you just dump the water and replace it with tap water.  The air purifier function seems to work great.  You can run the motor at low speed or high speed, and the does make air smell fresh like air outside after a rain shower.  Scent oils are also provided if you want a scent such as vanilla, cinnamon, or others.  My favorite was the unscented water.

The Rainbow vacuum demonstration was even more impressive.  You can read details of how the Rainbow sales pitch worked in this article.

The clear conclusion was the the Rainbow does a much better job of cleaning than our cheap $80 Hoover upright vacuum.  But the Rainbow costs $2,300.  I liked everything about the Rainbow except the price tag.  I was expecting a "but wait, there's more" sort of offer with a lower price, but it never came.

We were offered a chance to apply for credit and pay $80 a month, but the price for the Rainbow vacuum was still $2,300.  We were also offered a chance to demonstrate Rainbow vacuums and get ours for free if we sold enough.  I didn't like any of these options, but I still liked the Rainbow vacuum.  Is there a cheaper way to get a Rainbow vacuum?

How to Get a Cheap Rainbow Vacuum

The manufacturer of Rainbow, Rexair, appears to only distribute new Rainbows through their distributors.  As you may have gathered, the distribution arrangement is a multi-level marketing organization.  You can make money selling Rainbow vacuums and also by recruiting others to sell Rainbow vacuums and getting a percentage of their sales.  That's all fine as long as I can get a cheap Rainbow...

Fortunately, there are plenty of used Rainbows for sale on eBay and amazon.  The upside of buying a used Rainbow is the low price.  The downside is that you will not get a warranty from the manufacturer and the condition of used vacuums can vary quite a bit.  Another issue is there are several models of used Rainbow vacuums for sale- you'll need to be careful to ensure you get the one you really want.

I said above that used Rainbows do not have a manufacturer's warranty.  You can find some used Rainbows sold by vacuum shops that have a warranty from the shop, which is certainly better than no warranty at all.  Many used vacuums are sold "as is" and some even state "no returns".

How much can you save buying a used Rainbow?  The answer depends on what model you buy, but you can get a used Rainbow with a shop warranty for around $400- a savings of around $2,000!  If you want the cleaning performance of a Rainbow vacuum without the high price, there are some good opportunities to find a used Rainbow that will last for many years.

Rainbow Vacuum Models and Prices

Rainbow E2 E4 Black Model
The fancy new model that we saw at the in-home demonstration is called an E2 E4.  This model has the two speed brushless motor and LED lighting on the water tank and on the power vacuum head.  The 2-speed motor allows the air purifier function to run quietly.  A HEPA filter after the water filter removes small particles.  These are still expensive on eBay, selling for over $1,500.

Rainbow E2 Black Model 12
The Black E2 released in 2011 introduced the 5 wheel dolly design and it also has LED lighing for the water tank.  The 2-speed brushless motor allows the air purifier function to run quietly.  A HEPA filter after the water filter removes small particles.  These are still expensive on eBay, over $1,000.

Rainbow E2 2-speed Models
The 2-speed Rainbow models were first introduced in 2003.  The 2-speed motor allows the air purifier function to run quietly  A HEPA filter after the water filter removes small particles..  The Rainbow 2-speed models have a brushless motor.  There are a couple variants of the Rainbow 2-speed models: the Gold model and the Blue model.  The Gold model was released first and the Blue model (2008-2011) adds some sound absorbing material around the motor to make it quieter.  You can get the Rainbow E2 Gold 2-speed for around $500 on eBay.

Rainbow E Series E2 (1-speed) Model
The E Series was introduced in 1998.  The older E series models of Rainbow vacuums used a 1 speed motor with brushes.  These models do not have a slower- and quieter- speed for air purification.  These Rainbows are either on or off.  This was the model that added the HEPA filter in addition to the water filter.  This is useful for filtering small particles that make it through the water filter.  The Rainbow E series 1 speed models are great vacuum cleaners and sell for around $400 on eBay.

All of the Rainbow E Models above move 80 cubic feet of air per minute and have a HEPA filter in addition to the water filter.

If you are willing to look older models more than 15 years old, you can get a Rainbow vacuum cleaner for under $300.  Here are the older Rainbow Vacuum models:

Rainbow SE / SE PN2 Model
This model added the electrical cord inside the hose to power accessories.  The SE is the first model that can use a RainbowMate, which is a powered upholstery cleaning accessory.

Rainbow D4 Model
The D4 has more power than older models and is considered a reliable vacuum cleaner with relatively simple design.

The D4 and SE Rainbows move 72 cubic feet of air per minute.

Rainbow D3 Model
The D3 was made in the 1980's.  I would be concerned about reliability and availability of replacement parts in a model this old.

The D3 moves air at 67 cubic feet per minute.

Which is the Best Model of Rainbow?

I have decided to look at E2 models.  These all have the HEPA filter added in addition to the water filter, have more power than older models, and are relatively new which should increase their life expectancy.  At first I was considering the 1-speed model since these can be purchased for around $400, but I do like the idea of being able to run the unit quietly as an air purifier.  So now I am focusing on E2 2-speed models.  The 2-speed models feature brushless motors which should last a very long time.

Cheap Rainbow Vacuums on eBay

Start here to find cheap Rainbow Vacuums on eBay:

Cheap Rainbow Vacuums on amazon

Start here to find cheap Rainbow Vacuums on amazon:

Cheap Rainbow Vacuums on craigslist

I did not have much luck finding Rainbow vacuums for sale on craigslist in my area.  There were a couple for sale, but one was $2,100 and the other was $1,400.  Both of these prices were much higher than similar ones on eBay or amazon, and there were only two available for sale on craigslist.

Recommended Reading:
The Sales Pitch: How to Sell Anything is an article that describes the sales pitch for a Rainbow Vacuum in detail.

If you want a great whole house air purifier that is much less expensive than a Rainbow, check out this New Comfort air purifier

Copyright © 2014 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cranberry Juice vs Cranberry Juice Cocktail

Cranberry Juice Cocktail Drink- Is This What I Want?

Today I really wanted some cranberry juice.  I went to the grocery store to get some and found some Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail for sale in 15.2 oz. bottles.  This was near the cold bottles of soda and other 16 to 20 oz bottles of juice, bottled water, and sports drinks for sale.  The price for 15.2 oz of cranberry drink was $1.49.  Since I really wanted some cranberry juice, I was willing to pay that much.

I did notice the word "drink" on the bottle, so I realized that it would not be 100% cranberry juice.  I was willing to accept a blend of perhaps cranberry and grape juice to sweeten it up a bit.  That would still be pretty good.  Upon further inspection of the bottle, I found the words: "Contains 15% fruit juice".  This no longer seemed like a good deal- $1.49 for tap water plus high fructose corn syrup plus a little bit of fruit juice.  I bet the 15% fruit juice in the juice cocktail was mostly apple juice anyway!  Why is "juice drink" so expensive?

This Cranberry Drink Cocktail is only 15% juice and costs $1.49 for 15.2 oz!  There must be a better deal...
This Cranberry Drink Cocktail is only 15% juice and costs $1.49 for 15.2 oz!  There must be a better deal...
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Can I Get 100% Juice Instead of 15% Juice Cocktail?

This Cranberry Juice Blend is 100% Juice with No Added Sugar
This Cranberry Juice Blend is 100% Juice with No Added Sugar
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I went to the aisle where the larger containers of fruit juice were sold.  I found a 60 oz container of Ocean Spray 100% juice with no sugar added for $4.50.  This is a blend of four juices including cranberry juice, apple juice, and pear juice.  My first reaction was that $4.50 was more than I wanted to spend to get some cranberry juice.  But I quickly realized that the 100% juice was actually less expensive than the 15% juice cocktail if you look at the price per ounce.

I decided to get the larger container of 100% juice with cranberry juice listed as the first ingredient.  It was great stuff!  Sometimes it pays to read the label closely and understand what you are getting for your money.  You can find 100% juice, but you may need to buy a larger container than the convenient 15.2 oz bottles.

Getting More Juice For Your Money

The smaller bottle of juice cocktail would have been more convenient and less expensive, but the larger bottle was much higher quality and the price per ounce was the same as the cheap sugar water drink.  I am sure the drink makers like to produce bottles of juice cocktail that cost almost nothing to make and sell them for $1.49.  This must be almost pure profit!

Bottles of "juice" may only contain 15% fruit juice- check the label before buying!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I think 100% juice is a great deal- you can get it for the same price per ounce as the watered down juice cocktail that contains only 15% juice.  You may want to pour it into smaller containers yourself to send for lunches and to conveniently take with you.  Nothing tastes quite like cranberry juice, and it tastes better knowing it is 100% juice with no added sugar.

Penny Pinching Tips:

  • Check the label on your "juice" to see how much juice you are actually getting
  • Buy larger containers of 100% juice and pour it into smaller containers yourself to save money

Copyright © 2014 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Midas Coupons and Discounts- I Saved $40 Today!

Midas Coupons- Save Money on Vehicle Maintenance

I took my good old Civic into Midas today to replace the alternator serpentine belts and get an oil change and tire rotation.  I had been warned a few months ago at my last oil change about the condition of the serpentine belts, and decided to get this taken care of today since I had some Midas coupons.

Use Midas Coupons to Save Money on Car Repairs
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I had a $5 coupon on an oil change and a $10 coupon for service over $50.  Midas happened to be running a special on oil changes, so I got an additional $4.07 off the bill for the oil change.  Plus they have a special on tire rotation, so I got a $20 tire rotation for free.  This brought my total savings off of my bill to just under $40.

Midas Coupons are Worth Finding
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Where to Get Midas Coupons

I got my coupons in the mail since I am on the Midas mailing list.  You can also get Midas coupons for free from the Midas website (  I have found the managers at the Midas shops I visit to be helpful at helping find discounts and coupons and also to sort out which repairs are more urgent and which can wait.

It's Great to Save at Midas with Coupons!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

All vehicles need maintenance sometimes.  You might as well round up your best coupons and save money on your vehicle service bill.  My bill today was $40 less than it would have been without Midas coupons and discounts.

Recommended Reading:
Best Value Car Maintenance and Auto Repair Tips
Synthetic Oil vs Regular Oil

Copyright © 2014 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Peel and Stick Floor Tile: Nail Heads Coming Through

Peel and Stick Floor Tile: Nail Heads Coming Through

Dear  Dr. Penny Pincher,

Our bathroom floor has stick on tiles that were installed probably 10 of 15 years ago.  Apparently they were installed directly onto the hardwood floor. Recently (this past year) several nail heads are appearing to raise up through the tile although none have penetrated the tile. Just the outline of the nail head can be seen.

What solution do you recommend to solve this nailhead problem short of installing a new floor.


A True Penny Pincher Advocate

Dear Advocate,

The easiest and least expensive option would be to use low wattage (or low lumen) light bulbs in the bathroom so the floor problems would be less apparent.  Plus this will save you money on electricity...

Another cheap option may be to put a small washable bathroom rug over the problem area.  You can buy bathroom rugs for a few dollars at Target or Walmart.  If the area is too big to cover with a rug, you could use a couple rugs, or use one very brightly colored rug to draw attention away from the problem.

If you are willing to put some work in, you could try to set the nails through the tiles, perhaps using a hammer and block of wood to avoid damaging the tiles.  Stick-on tiles this old are probably pretty brittle, so it would be easy to damage them.

Another cheap option would be to use a nailset to set the nails right through the floor tiles.  This would make a dimple at the spot of each nail head.  After setting all of the nails that are coming through, use the nailset to make a pattern of dimples across the entire floor, sort of like a punched tin ceiling.  I would try a random pattern.  This would set the nails and may look like an intentional pattern on the floor.

Good luck!

Copyright © 2014 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy