Author Topic: Geothermal Heating and Cooling  (Read 1498 times)

Online theDarkSide

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Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« on: February 11, 2011, 09:28:37 AM »
I figure Hombrewers are a geeky bunch ( or some of us ) so I want to ask you all this question.

Does anyone here currently use geothermal heating and/or cooling in your home?  If so, can how well does it work, what climate are you in, was it insanely expensive to install, etc?  Any info would be great.

I put a pellet stove in years ago to offset the cost of propane but now pellets are getting up in price as well.  My current propane heating system is going on 18 years old and I've been thinking about a geothermal system. 

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2011, 09:53:46 AM »
I did consider this once upon a time. There are 2 schools of thought that I  can say for sure.

One is that you cannot recoup the initial outlay because it is so insanely expensive.

The other is that you cannot do enough to mimimize the human footprint on the planet.

I went with the 1st school of thought....
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Offline oscarvan

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2011, 10:07:48 AM »
I figure Hombrewers are a geeky bunch ( or some of us ) so I want to ask you all this question.

Does anyone here currently use geothermal heating and/or cooling in your home?  If so, can how well does it work, what climate are you in, was it insanely expensive to install, etc?  Any info would be great.

I put a pellet stove in years ago to offset the cost of propane but now pellets are getting up in price as well.  My current propane heating system is going on 18 years old and I've been thinking about a geothermal system.  

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.

LOVE the pellet stove...... three years ago $300/ton, two years ago $250/ton, can get a ton right now for $187 (And I need to 'caus I went through a whole lot more than last year, already.... :(

Geothermal is expensive to install. Heat pumps are very efficient down to about 40º, after that they need help. How yo help them is the key. If I were to install right now, I'd do a heat storage unit (LARGE boiler) with combo oil or gas and solar, with the residential hot water tied in.

I have one of those and it is electric. This was a good deal when I had demand metering, and heated the thing up at night with cheap electricity. When the PA rates got deregulated they not only went up, they told me to take my system and shove it, as they were now going to charge me day and night.

My cost went up 50%..... hence the pellet stove which has contained the damage somewhat. Sooooo, I'm still looking at tying thermal solar in to the system, although it is now looking like I won't be here for more than 5-6 years, so It may be for the next house....

The DREAM house. 8)
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 10:12:44 AM by oscarvan »
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Offline VinS

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2011, 10:18:17 AM »
Price depends on the way you run the coil in deep trench or drilled hole. Here's a guy site www.litchfieldgeothermal.com . Pete runs it and very informative. He can probably give you info for your area. Went to a couple dems he did. His house is the test site on south st. Also check what tax credits your town, state might give you.
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Offline weazletoe

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2011, 03:36:33 PM »
i'm in a big rucsh right now, but later I will try and answer some questions for you. I have a good bit of experiencewith, and have installed several systems. Will be happy to help, just in a rush right now.
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boulderbrewer

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2011, 07:57:06 PM »
They sure look pretty in a basement. Unless you are in a somewhat temperate climate the electricity may out weigh the gains. If you could power everything off the grid... now you are talking. I went with a soapstone wood stove, because the pellets might not be available when the s hits the fan, I'm surounded by the woods. I bet all decisions depend on what is available.

Offline weazletoe

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2011, 11:14:39 PM »
   My first thought on Geothermal.....head for the hills. Unless you have a huge place, and live in a climate that does not routinly get down to butt a$$ cold, you will never recoup the cost. The installs I've done are 25k and up. And, depening if you go with a trench or well syetem, your yard is gonna get jacked up in the process, so there is the added expense of repairing it. Then, you have reapirs......A geothermal sysem is not like any other HVAC system......not to many cheap fixes. When it breaks down, it;s gonna cost ya! a typical system is designed to last 15 years. So, lets put you on the low end at 25k for initial. In that 15 years add a couple three service calls, at god knows how much. Then, 15 years later.....time for new equiptment. another 10-15k. sure, it is a good idea, and green, But until the price comes way down, it is just not worth it.
    My advice, heat pump. In the last few years, they have come a LONG way. They will extract heat from the outside air down to 15* before the back up comes on. Get a ahold of a Bryant dealer in your area. These tihngs are great! By far, the best I have installed. They now have variable speed drive blower motors. The thermomstat senses the temp difference in the house, cmpared to what it is set at, and will ramp the blower speed up and down a wide range, to efficently heat the home. They are amazing if you have a two story, especially for cooling. When you back up heat does kick on, below 15*, the furnace is very efficent. Close to 98%. Basically, that  means for every one dollar you spend on propane, you are getting 98 cents worth of heat, and only losing 2 cents out the flu pipe.
 
I did a job for a guy that had 3 90% furnaces in his house. We took all 3 out and replaced them with the heat pumps. His gas bill was over 900$ a month. We took it down to a little under 200$, and raised his electric bill only 90$. Tell me that is not saving! You can expect to pay around 7k for a good system. But campared to a regular furnace and a/c at 5k, you will easily get your money back.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2011, 11:41:37 PM »
   My first thought on Geothermal.....head for the hills. Unless you have a huge place, and live in a climate that does not routinly get down to butt a$$ cold, you will never recoup the cost. The installs I've done are 25k and up. And, depening if you go with a trench or well syetem, your yard is gonna get jacked up in the process, so there is the added expense of repairing it. Then, you have reapirs......A geothermal sysem is not like any other HVAC system......not to many cheap fixes. When it breaks down, it;s gonna cost ya! a typical system is designed to last 15 years. So, lets put you on the low end at 25k for initial. In that 15 years add a couple three service calls, at god knows how much. Then, 15 years later.....time for new equiptment. another 10-15k. sure, it is a good idea, and green, But until the price comes way down, it is just not worth it.
    My advice, heat pump. In the last few years, they have come a LONG way. They will extract heat from the outside air down to 15* before the back up comes on. Get a ahold of a Bryant dealer in your area. These tihngs are great! By far, the best I have installed. They now have variable speed drive blower motors. The thermomstat senses the temp difference in the house, cmpared to what it is set at, and will ramp the blower speed up and down a wide range, to efficently heat the home. They are amazing if you have a two story, especially for cooling. When you back up heat does kick on, below 15*, the furnace is very efficent. Close to 98%. Basically, that  means for every one dollar you spend on propane, you are getting 98 cents worth of heat, and only losing 2 cents out the flu pipe.
 
I did a job for a guy that had 3 90% furnaces in his house. We took all 3 out and replaced them with the heat pumps. His gas bill was over 900$ a month. We took it down to a little under 200$, and raised his electric bill only 90$. Tell me that is not saving! You can expect to pay around 7k for a good system. But campared to a regular furnace and a/c at 5k, you will easily get your money back.

And all this while not wearing any pants!
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Offline punatic

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2011, 08:24:04 PM »
The electricty provided to my house is generated by geothermal.  One of the control center operators is a homebrewer.

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Offline weazletoe

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2011, 08:57:10 PM »

And all this while not wearing any pants!


You would be shocked what I do while not wearing pants!  ;D
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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 07:46:40 PM »
Punatic we all should be so fortunate. Heating is lose lose situation, if you are in a less than temperate climate. There is a reason we migrated.

Offline johnf

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2011, 08:10:53 PM »
I just installed one. A couple of observations.

1. It was under 25K (not by a lot) and that included drilling and a new hot water heater.
2. I've been surprised out how rarely the auxiliary electric heater kicks.
3. With a 30% tax credit and a discount on electricity rates during the winter offered locally, I believe this will be positive ROI but not by much. Easily negative ROI without those subsidies in my situation.
4. It is perfectly quiet.
5. Good conversation starter but at $600 the Samsung Galaxy Tab has been much more cost effective in that regard.

Offline theoman

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2011, 05:09:39 AM »
Interesting topic. I'm about to build a house and am going geothermal, though I admit that I'm still not sure I fully understand it. From what I understand, we'll be doing the well method, going about 80m down. That will be used in combination with an electric heat pump. Cooling can be done as well, though for us it'll be passive, meaning the pump will only heat, not cool (that's the only way we get the massive tax breaks - 7500 euros/year for 4 years).

One thing I've heard and am a little worried about is that the ground can cool off over time, especially if you don't replace the heat during the warmer months.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2011, 06:09:48 AM »
One thing I've heard and am a little worried about is that the ground can cool off over time, especially if you don't replace the heat during the warmer months.

I didn't know that could be an issue. Who are you using to do the installation, btw? Ça m'intéresse.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Geothermal Heating and Cooling
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2011, 06:17:28 AM »
Also a broader question for weaz et al, I live in a climate where it almost never gets above 80-85 deg in the summer, and cools way, way down (mid 60s) at night. So, we have no need for A/C at all. What's the best heating option? Gas is expensive and comes from Russia, and therefore if Ukraine doesn't pay it's bills again we're all freezing. Electric is nuclear-provided (Yeah!) so it's fairly cheap. What can I do that's green, efficient, maybe can even run via solar and/or wind power on-site?
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