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Geoexchange system

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jay H, Nov 7, 2005.

  1. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Hi folks, continueing my saga to get off the grid and off of fossil fuels as much as possible. For environmental and economic reasons, do anybody hear have a geoexchange system setup? I'm interesting in finding out how much and how good so if you are, feel free to send me an email.

    On the electricity front, I had a solar installer come by my house I just bought and found out I have about 50% sunshine, which is not enough for NJ's clean energy rebate. That kind of makes solar PV for me, not practical, though I can still do solar HW efficiently, as it has a higher ROI and is cheaper to begin with.

    However, speaking of heating and cooling and hot water, I think a geothermal exchange system is looking good since I don't have central air and would need heating and hot water. Solar collectors only provide hot water and is inefficient for baseboard hot water heat.

    Geoexchange systems though, will provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer and can help heat water so even though the installation costs are more than for solar collectors, it is year round, doesn't require the sun and can provide cooling in the summer, unlike solar.

    Anybody here have experience installing or using one, would be much appreciated!

    Jay
     
  2. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    We're doing a major addition/renovation to our house and I'm going to be investigating this. I'll let you know what I find out.

    When I googled geoexchange, it was hard to identify unbiased information. However, I went to my local utility website and they have an interesting calculator which says I would save $500/month in utility bills by going with geoexchange. Here's a link to their 'Home Energy Calculator'. You'll notice that one of the options under 'Heat Type' is 'Geo Heat Pump'.
     
  3. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I called a bunch of different HVAC installers that were listed under the organization www.geoexchange.org and all of them are not in northern NJ. I left a message with one that is about 40 miles away, awaiting a call back though.

    Anyway, from what I have heard and just passing on this info is that you need a pretty good insulation in order for it to be effective. Unlike a combustion furnace, the temps of the earth will be a constant 40-70deg (I'm told about 50deg pretty much here in NJ), so the air that you have coming out isn't going to be scorching hot/cold. And you'll need either radiant floor heating (expensive) or a forced air system.

    Currently, my old 1950s house that I bought is a gas hot water baseboard heat which means I'll have to convert which I know I can cause the ductwork is still there..

    NJ gets about $540 per HVAC ton in rebates for geoexchange and my small house is probably somewhere between 1 to 2 ton, so we're not talking a huge rebate (unlike solar electric), but unlike a solar collector for hot water, a geoexchange system will provide heat AND cooling and can also assist in domestic hot water.

    I'm still trying to find a reputable installer in my area though, I'm not trying to hire any old HVAC installer, but you want one that have done geoexchange systems before.

    Jay
     
  4. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    My g.f.'s parents are installing this system. As mentioned above, it will skew your temps toward 55 degrees or so. This means that you'll still need some form of heat during the winter. However, it is much cheaper to heat from 55&deg than from freezing! They have not had it through the winter yet so I can't comment on cost savings.
     
  5. mark alan

    mark alan Supporting Actor

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    Jay,

    A much simplier solution is a wood burning stove or wood burning insert for a fireplace. I installed one this year, and it puts out an amazing amount of heat. We have a fairly open floor plan, and the heat distributes pretty well throughout the heat.
     
  6. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    A wood-burning stove doesn't really tackle the environmental end of it, though. See "South Asian Cloud" for reference.[​IMG]

    I've begun early research on a unit, to eventually replace my aging (and not-well-cared-for) cooling system. I currently have gas heat, which is great, and more than adequate, but is likely going to rape my wallet this winter.
    I've come across www.waterfurnace.com, and a few others, but nothing really. It would appear that the equipment cost is roughly 50% higher than a similarly sized heat pump setup, and then 1000-3000 per ton of capacity, for excavating the ground loop. I'm guessing that, for the average sized house, you're looking at roughly $10k total. Whereas, a typical 13 SEER heat pump would be roughly half that, perhaps less.

    That's a wild guess, though. I've learned that here in Northern VA, take what you think it should cost, double it for the shock factor, then 50% over again to ludicrous levels, and that's the actual quoted price.[​IMG]
     
  7. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Waterfurnace is advertised in a bunch of geoexchange contracters I've seen around.

    The rebates are different in each state, NJ has a very good one at least for Solar Electric. I don't know how the geoexchange rebates compare but they're run under the same program (NJ Clean Energy). From what I'm told, NJ is considering offering a rebate for Solar Hot Water, starting 1QTR'06 which I'm also considering, but I like the aspect of doing the whole thing in one, getting heat, A/C and stuff.

    I'm considering a wood stove too, I have a regular wood burning fireplace in the great room which is where I'll be pretty much unless I'm sleeping or in the basement playing with all my gear.

    Jay
     
  8. mark alan

    mark alan Supporting Actor

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    I don't agree with that. A wood stove is highly efficient, doesn't pollute and doesn't release any CO2 that wouldn't be released by the decay of the wood.

    Now, if 6.5 billion people tried to heat their homes with wood, you would have a problem.
     
  9. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    Geoexchange units, have dealt with a few down here but there are not many.

    Beware just because a contractor is listed on some groups site or a member of a national geo group DOES NOT mean they are good it just means they filled out the paperwork or paid the fees.

    Geothermal heat pumps are about the most energy efficient unit you can get(havent compared their efficiency with the new 13 seer standard-look into to it and see if the cost difference is worth it), but with that being said.......................

    If you get an unit correctly installed and it rarely breaks you will come out ahead, but in my experience with about 50% of them I have seem they are one big endless line of problems, something always breaking, etc. If this is the case any money you will save in energy will be lost plus some for repairs, you have a 50/50 chance.
     
  10. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    The way I see it is my house has an old gas furnace, although it's still in fine working shape as the owner took care of it fairly well, it has had some parts replaced with newer ones, he has a box of spare zone valves and motors and stuff, I'm sure it's not the most effecient unit out there. The house also does not have a central air. I don't mind the lack of A/C that much but figuring that I'd like to update the heating, kind of makes sense for me to start looking at whole house heating and cooling, if only for an efficiency and financial standpoint.

    However, as I love the outdoors, as well as you might know from all my silly outdoor pursuits, and I love to be very "green" or as environmental as I can get, I'd also like to do this from an environmental standpoint. Financially, I am well off being single, having a good well-paying job, I can afford to look at this systems initial costs as an investment in my and the planet's future. So I'm willing to take that risk, to look into ways to improve my life, your life, and our kids lives.

    The only reason right now that I'm not going solar electric is because my property is too tree covered with trees not on my property, although I admit, I'm not willing to cut them down for the sake of solar electric. I don't qualify for the NJ clean energy rebates for solar electric. I'm getting a second opinion right now but I don't think they're going to tell me anything different. So my next goal was hot water, heating, and cooling, which is where the geoexchange system comes in.

    Thank you for all your opinions! I know that just because they're in an org. means they're reputable, but at least it's a clearinghouse for me to find those that do. I would think the chances are that an installer that is part of a group has at least the foresight and cash to join and I'd love to find a company that specializes in environmental heating/cooling systems rather than traditional ones that kind of put geoexchange systems on the side...

    Jay
     
  11. JoeyR

    JoeyR Second Unit

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    Jay you can also purchase high efficiency gas furnaces(90%) that are probably just as sound an investment, with lower install cost, upkeep and only slightly less efficient than a geothermal
     
  12. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Sure, but it still uses gas! [​IMG] But surely, I will try to balance all options here. For hot water, the new tankless water heaters are supposedly very good too cause they don't have to heat 40gals of water 24 hours a day/7 days a week...

    But what I'm also considering is doing a big solar collector, to heat hot water for me to drink and also hot water for the baseboard heat, although it wont provide all the energy needed to heat the baseboard water which runs hotter than drinking water, it would offset the need for the gas furnace to run and it'll be cheaper to install as I wont have to change out the heating system as if I went geothermal. Then I could get a really efficient gas furnace as you mentioned.... It's an idea I've tossed around too. This winter, I'm going to be really looking at making my house as best insulated as possible, cause at the earliest, I'm not going to be fussing with the heating system in the middle of winter, I'll wait til next spring/summer.

    Jay
     
  13. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    I just realized I forgot to post the energy calculator I mentioned above. The costs here would be based on Louisville,KY weather and gas and electric prices but it could give you an idea of how much a geoexchange system could save you:

    http://lge.apogee.net/rescalc/
     
  14. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Thanks Denward... Zounds... According to that calculator, I'd save around $1800 per year.

    Anyway, my quest on finding one continues!

    Jay
     
  15. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > However, I went to my local utility website and they have an interesting calculator which says I would save $500/month in utility bills by going with geoexchange.

    You're spending more than that now? [​IMG] How big is your mansion?
     

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