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Old March 19th, 2010, 09:06 AM
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Default OT: Geothermal Residential Heating

Anyone have this retrofit done to your house?... a geothermal loop with heat pump? Are the savings worth it? The govt. here covers 25% of the installation cost via rebates. As we live in a developed subdivision, this would be a vertical (vertically-drilled well) geothermal loop.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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I looked at it, my Brother in law, whose home is about 3 times larger than ours also looked at it and I know people who have it. It is very expensive to install, you also need to look at your crystal ball and make sure that the product you choose is going to still be in business or supported 15-20 years from now if you plan to say in your house that long. One friend has had geothermal about 10-15 years now, the issue they have is trying to get parts for it since the manufacturer is out of business. One company said the only thing they could do is replace it with a new system, another came out and was somehow able to repair it.

For my BIL's house which is huge it would have involved several systems to handle the load. The price tag was about $65,000. For our house it would have cost about $20,000 we're on an acre and ours would have been horizontally trenched loops. It would take us a very long time to recoup that sort of investment. The other thing to consider is the type of heat you like. Geothermal is kind of a cold heat, meaning the air handler will run almost constantly on cold days and it is never hot like forced air from a gas furnace. Because the air is almost constantly moving it will feel chillier.

My BIL and I both ended up going with high efficiency heat pumps. It's been almost a year and I am not displeased with it. It is certainly less expensive to run than propane and traditional central air. But in the winter when it is below about 20 degrees I run a pellet/corn stove as a primary source of heat and run the fan on the air handler to move the warm air throughout the house and the heat pump to supplement when the temp in the house drops below 70. My worst electric bill this winter was about $300, that covers heat, lights, powering 5 computers, appliances, etc.. and keeping a hot tub at 102 degrees outside. So I don't feel that's too bad. The only thing I have left on propane is the water heater. I just couldn't justify the upfront cost, by the time I recouped my investment I may have to shell out another big heap of cash. My heat pump did qualify for the $1500 tax credit here in the states.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 07:52 PM
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Captain,

I strongly agree with Beenie/Weenie's comments and you might consider this.

I don't know what kind of heat you have now but if it's gas or oil, then you can have a thermostat that operates both it and a heat pump. The only thing is I don't know how much benefit you would get depending upon the climate where you live. You can pretty much determine yourself with the following info. All I have is a heat pump. If the thermostat is set at 70 and it's ten degrees outside (which I admit is rare around these parts but certainly not unheard of) in the house it will be around 67 or 68. But then I have a thirteen year old unit and the efficiency today is ten times better.

If you decide on a supplementary heat pump, if the outside temp say got down to the point that your heat pump wouldn't carry it, it would automatically turn on your primary heating system. Since a heat pump is far cheaper to run (at least in this country) than a gas or oil furnace you could save yourself some money without having to go to the added expense of digging up the yard and putting in a more expensive unit.

Then of course the heat pump would double as a/c in the summer if you so wished. Here in the US, there are significant govt. incentives to either change to or upgrade an existing heat pump. Possibly it's the same there where you live as well.

Good luck

Todd
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Old March 19th, 2010, 11:28 PM
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Todd and BW> Thanks for the info... I heat and cool electrically. The geothermal would replace the existing heat pump entirely, as well as provide us with hot water. Folks like hot showers here, so that's a bonus. We have been quoted around 30k for a 3.5 ton unit. The monthly electric bill here has risen to $325 a month (averaged anually)... so we are seriously considering it. The savings would even out the installation cost in about 15 years (at current Hydro rates, doubtlessly to increase)... and since we are not planning to move...

As for the "chilly feel"... we keep our fan going constantly now, so there won't be much difference. Our house (built 5 years ago) is pretty much air-tight with an air exchanger, and built to R-40 insulation standards.
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Old March 20th, 2010, 02:53 AM
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Captain,

If you ever consider keeping a "conventional" water heater may I suggest something of which you may or may not be aware.

There is now a tankless water heater that you can now get in an electric configuration and only heats when you open a tap. When you turn off the hot water is stops heating the water. What this means is that you wouldn't be maintaining constant heat for a forty or fifty gallon water heater and never again would you run out of hot water. Oh, and it affixes to the wall.

Just thought I'd mention it.

Todd
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Old March 20th, 2010, 04:03 AM
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Todd> I've seen those. I saw ads for them a while back on tv, and checked them out further. If you search buyer reviews on those products, they are mostly negative, lots of "remorse"....
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Old March 20th, 2010, 08:45 AM
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I too have been considering a tankless water heater. I also found in my research a lot of buyer's remorse as well. I have a friend who has one installed in her salon for the shampoo bowls and bathroom sinks to share and truly theirs have been nothing but trouble in that it would be fine for activities like a bath, laundry,and dishes, taking a shower is problematic because the vast temperature fluctuations, it's like you get a cold water sandwich from your hot water heater. There was one company called Hubbell that seemed to produce a good product without the cold water sandwich, but I would have to check it out in person before deciding that is the way I want to go.

So many companies over promise and under deliver, it is definitely a buyer beware situation.

With regard to Geothermal vs. Air Source Heat Pump the price tag is 3-4 times higher for Geothermal. Our Heat Pump would have been about $2,500 less but we had them completely replace the duct work as well as the system. The people who built our house back in 1997 for the original owners really hosed up the installation of the duct work and it was a mess. If the government will cover 25% of the installation, that will help to offset it a bunch. I am sure you will do well, no matter which way you go with it. I am sure that in November through March my electric bills would go down substantially if I didn't run the hot tub outside but that's one of life's little joys I am willing to pay extra for .
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Old March 20th, 2010, 10:55 AM
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Captain,

To be honest with you, I haven't ever considered one because of the cost and learned about them so many years ago that Bob Vila was still on "This Old House."

I remember talking with a builder about them about five years ago when we were constructing our Spay/Neuter/Surgery unit at the Animal Adoption Center. He said that his experience was that the gas ones worked far better than the electric version (that had only then recently been designed). Mentioned them to a friend who works at Lowe's and he said basically the same thing.

Obviously things have gone down hill since I was last checking about them. It's a shame too, because they appeared so simple as to lead one to believe that being so would preclude major problems.

Ah well, it was an idea.

Todd
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