The Story of A Home Geothermal Project

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Geothermal can be a great option for homeowners looking for a more environmentally friendly way to heat and cool their homes. Here is one family’s story of replacing an inefficient fuel furnace with a new geothermal system.

While geothermal does not necessarily eliminate the carbon footprint of heating and cooling your home, it can at least minimize less efficient fuel usage. And, if you combine it with solar power to run the unit, you can significantly decrease your impact on the planet, while still maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature year-round.

While the family in the article below hasn’t made the leap to solar just yet, by switching from an old fuel-oil-powered furnace to a geothermal unit, they will save hundreds of dollars per year on heating and cooling costs, while substantially reducing their fossil fuel usage.

Check this out to learn more about installing a residential geothermal system:

It was an exciting week on our little homestead, as the geothermal project we have been planning since before we bought the house was finally completed on Friday!
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This is an old house – built in the 50’s, and so it is a replacement for the old furnace – not a new build. This means the contractors had some fun challenges to deal with, like the 4′ crawlspace the pipes had to be run through to get to the basement.  But overall the project was actually pretty straightforward…. The actual installation took about 2 weeks, and that was mostly because the company that drilled the wells couldn’t fit us into their schedule right away.

Here’s what happened (plus pictures!) – and our experience with the system so far….

To start with, we had planned to put in a geothermal system before we even bought the house. The furnace (which we affectionately dubbed “The Beast”) was about 30 years old, and was surrounded by a crazy Tim-Burton-inspired maze of giant ductwork. It also ran on fuel oil, which means we paid through the nose to heat the house last winter, and spent most of the winter bundled up in many layers, with the heat set around 65 or so, while The Beast lumbered away in the basement trying to keep us warm through an extra-cold Ohio winter….

Our house did not have central air conditioning at all when we moved in. Luckily, it was an unusually cool summer, so we made it through with just a window unit, and a bit of sweating….  We are blessed in the fact that our house has ceiling fans in almost every room, so that helped a lot too.

With those factors in mind, a geothermal system was almost a no-brainer in our case. Yes, it costs a lot up front. But considering just how much we spent in fuel costs last year, we figure it should pay for itself in about 10 years, and the systems are designed to last a good 25-30 years, with, from what I have read, relatively little maintenance. It’s also such an eco-friendly choice, it’s hard to beat if you’re trying to live more sustainably.

We went with a WaterFurnace – one of the most well-known choices in geothermal systems right now, and I did a lot of research on the different options and found a lot of good feedback on these. We figured fall was a great time to get this project done, so we looked around for a local installer. We wanted to get a couple of quotes on a project this large, and I was very glad that we did, as one contractor came back more than $10k higher than the other for the same system!

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….We decided to go with vertical wells instead of horizontal loops, although we had the space for horizontal. The vertical wells would mean less disturbance of the landscape, and they sounded like they may be a better option over time, as the 100-foot wells would have less chance of being affected by ground shift, etc.  The cost was surprisingly close anyway.
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The old furnace was gone the first day, but it took about 4 more days for the contractors to finish all the wiring, piping, insulation, and duct work updates, and install the supplemental water tank. We decided to add this option as it didn’t add much to the cost at all, but will both decrease our cost for hot water, and double our hot water capacity. Family can now come visit and take all the hot showers they want!

The drilling rig arrived the second week, and looked exactly like, well, a drilling rig!.. It was a big mess that evening – bigger than I had expected. I was glad we didn’t do the horizontal loops, with as much mess as this made!…

The second day, the drilling company came back to run the piping from the wells to the house, through the foundation and crawl space, and into the basement so it could be hooked up to the geothermal unit.
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So far we are very happy with  our new geothermal system, although it may take some getting used to not having hot air blowing out of all the vents….

I can definitely already see what people mean about this type of system eliminating uneven temperature spots – the whole house is basically the same temperature now at all times, so we can be comfortable wherever we are….

For the full story – plus before & after pictures of the project – visit NewHolisticLiving.com….

 

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