18 Dec

Installing A Geothermal Heat Pump At My House


I’m a major systems kinda guy.  I have an old kitchen, but a new roof, outdated bathrooms, but an off the hook Geothermal HVAC System.  Being a real estate broker, I understand that major systems are seen as a baseline by a homebuyer.  They are expected to function correctly and that is pretty much it.  So a couple years ago when my 20 year old traditional heat pump died for a second time in the middle of winter and the home warranty company told me that they would have to order a part and it would take a few days, I decided it was time for a new system.

 

I shopped around and priced out a traditional replacement for my heat pump with auxiliary propane heat.  I also priced a geothermal HVAC.  I received at least 3 quotes for each system and while Geothermal Heat Pumps are expensive, it ended up being only $2,000-3,000 more than a higher end traditional system after federal tax credits of 30% of the cost of the system.  Being self-employed and responsible for paying my own taxes, the tax credit was a dollar for dollar savings for me.

 

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From an efficiency standpoint, Geothermal Heat Pumps are the world’s most energy efficient HVAC systems.  A fossil fuel system is typically 70-90% efficient and geothermal is 400-600% efficient.  Efficiency is rated by how much energy the system produces verses how much it uses.  There is more science behind it, but basically it saves you money and uses no fossil fuels, at all.  It does use electricity to power the pumps, compressor, fans, etc. and there can be fossil fuels used to create that energy (depending on your electricity provider), but overall the energy usage is ridiculously low.  I eliminated using propane as a backup heat source and estimate I save at a minimum 40-50% compared to the traditional HVAC counterparts.  Not to mention the system comes with a desuperheater which basically gives me free hot water in the warmer months.

 

I picked a great local (I shop local and so should you, especially with real estate companies) Geothermal HVAC contractor.  All they do is Geo.  All day.  Every day.  I interviewed the owner and he was super knowledgeable and genuine.  I still have a great relationship with him and they have since come back to expand the system by adding a second zone, because I did an addition at my home.  Their pricing was competitive and I am very satisfied with the work.

 

 

Drilling the wells for Geothermal HVAC

This is what they used to drill the wells for my Geothermal HVAC system.

 

The video below give you a good idea of the mess that was made and the noise that was heard by my neighbors for several days.  This machine actually broke in the middle of this and they ordered a part and I helped them fix it.  It was fun.  A couple of these workers had past jobs doing fracking in upstate PA.  They knew their stuff, but now work for the right team.  They drilled three 220 feet deep wells for my closed loop geothermal heat pump.  They trenched 300 feet to my house because there is an isolation distance from my well and septic.

 

The ground below your feet is warm even in the winter.  If you dig down more than about 4 feet, the ground will be close to the average temperature of your climate all year round.  The geothermal heat pump exchanges heat and cool with the ground.  It pulls heat from the ground in the winter (even in below 0 temps, I have done it), amplifies it and heats your home.  In the summer it pulls the heat from your home and dumps it into the ground.  It is amazing and only about 1% of homes in the US have it, while many Nordic countries use it frequently.

 

A few great things about a Geothermal Heat Pump are:

  • Much lower utility bills
  • The air that blows out of the vents is warm (in heat mode), not hot, so you don’t dry out as easily like with a traditional HVAC system
  • It is excellent for the environment because it is super efficient and uses less energy
  • There is a 30% tax credit provided by the federal government for installing it
  • My electric company paid me $900 as a credit when I installed it because it is so efficient
  • It lasts for 25+ years and the piping lasts for 50+ years
  • It’s super neat

 

This drill was made to drill wells for Geo systems.  It was loud and messy and the neighbors hated it.  They thought I was fracking.

 

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