Geothermal and ICFs

srlarsenAugust 29, 2004

We're building a house with ICFs and I'm really interested in geothermal. Our builder thinks geothermal will be overkill since the house will be more efficient than if built with 2x4s, and we won't need as big of an HVAC anyway. He thinks it will take a lot longer to recoup the additional cost. I still like the idea of geothermal. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated!

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Chief18

With out knowing the heating/cooling requirement of the house, it is very hard to give solid advise. Yes geothermal cost more up front, yes they are generally significantly more efficent that than standard electric resistance heating and standard air conditioning, but with out heat loss/gain details a payback period is very difficult to calculate.

If you really like the idea on principle alone, than that might be enough to sway you, cost not being a factor, but that is a complete judgement call on your part. In your climate for me it would be a no brainer, geo all the way...

chief

    Bookmark   August 31, 2004 at 12:35AM
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RCMJr

.

In most basic form; geothermal uses heat from the earth; as opposed to burning something ( or running heat elements ) to supply heat. You are paying to "move" it with a compressor.

A relative had a system; and it also offered summer cooling ( NOT air conditioning as we normally think of it ) as a by-product of heating his DHW. Cooled air was freely available; though it was NOT as dehumidified as "regular" air conditioning is.

There is no doubt that these systems ( when PROPERLY designed and installed ) offer great advantages in terms of actual energy use. Some systems use closed loop of tubing buried in the ground . . . requiring space without trees / roots . .. . others can use a well / other large water source as their heat . . . . may run into flow / environmental concerns here . . . but they truly use much less energy in the big picture. Design of such a system will involve your actual site much more than other types of heating.

You have to decide how long you'll be there / will you ever recoup the cost . . . . either in dollars or satisfaction or resale . . . . . . to justify the initial expense.

Bob

    Bookmark   August 31, 2004 at 6:31AM
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byBill

Get a bid on the installation of the geo-thermal system and for a conventional system----complete, apples to apples. Then compare the cost per month, or year, to run each. Nothing, according to the EPA, is better or less expensive to run than a geo system. Besides heating and a/c it supplies 90% of your domestic hot water. Add the fact that there is no maintenance, no gas or oil, no chimneys no outside equipment----it pays for itself in a very short period of time. ICF construction and Geo work hand in glove, you will love it. Look up energy conservation mortgages, you may be eligible for a better rate. Bill

    Bookmark   September 5, 2004 at 8:54AM
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byBill

Forgot to mention--check your electric utility, they often have rebates for geo and if not they sure can give you help and good advise.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2004 at 6:20PM
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yoda_ne

We are building a new house and are planning on installing geothermal. The big question right now is open (pump & dump) or closed loop. We need a 5 ton unit, does anyone have an open loop and if so any problems or issues with this system. We have checked the well and it is producing about 15 gallons per minute. Any help, advice, or additional knowledge would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2004 at 9:45PM
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BBTM

Open loop water source heat pumps are the lowest cost way to use heat pumps, only issues are availabilty of water and what is done to dispose of the water--usually the larger problem. Also, local codes need to be checked. Next best is a well-designed, properly-installed ground-coupled heat pump.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2004 at 6:46PM
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Suesplace

We've also decided to use geothermal with our ICF home. It's going to cost about 1000 more than we originally had planned. We were going to get an air heat pump with duel compressors and variable speed fan with an ERV, but the HVAC guy backed out once we were ready for him, so after rebidding we decided to get the geothermal without the extras. We will have to get an ERV sometime soon, but we'll wait till we close on the construction loan. We will be retiring here so I look forward to the cheap monthly utility bills. The air heat pump was going to be electric so we could get away from propane and I was kinda scared to see the winter bills. And as an extra bonus, they say it doesn't have a noisy compressor outside.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 12:18AM
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knoto55

Only a $1000 more. You're lucky. My contractor wanted us to pay almost $15,000 more for the Geothermal - Ground loop DX system that we are having installed. We're closing on the house in two weeks.

Do I think we made a mistake? NO! It's a super effecient system. The air coming out of the vents actually feels WARM! not like a regular heat pump where the air always feels cool. And with it being a Dx - or Direct Exchange System, we get basically free hot water during the months the system is in cooling mode.

The biggest point in savings is that in 2006, June 2006 to be exact, Electricity in the State of Maryland will no longer be regulated. That's right. Maryland will join other states that charge high, higher electic rates. So when that happens, I'll have my GeoThermal System keeping me warm as toast for not much money, while others will be force to turn down their thermostats so they can afford to pay their electric bills.

Ken

Here is a link that might be useful: Earth Linked Heating and Cooling Systems

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 10:27PM
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paloma2001

Question - Is the cooling air dehumidified? That's the main reason I use AC, to get rid of the humidity. Or do these systems have a dehumidifier?

Pal

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 12:44PM
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rjoh878646

cooling air is dehumidified. A air conditioner works the same way a dehumidifier does.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 12:22PM
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