New Construction - Is Geothermal worth it?
Last Post 24 Jan 2008 03:49 PM by Rsipgeo. 11 Replies.
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wasUser is Offline
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12 Jan 2008 01:31 AM
I plan to start construction of a new home in a few months.  I would like to do my part for the environment and a builder suggested geothermal.  I had one person tell me the upfront cost would be $30K in addition to what I needed in the home.  Another told me the addtional cost would only be $3K because of the savings on the heating and the central air unit we would need.  I live in northern NJ.  We still have to escavte a foundation for the home.  The home will be 3000 sq ft.

Is Geothermal a good alternative?
Will I really save money over time?
Can anyone that has it in place now tell me if they would recommend it or do it again in another home?

Thanks in advance - Bill

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12 Jan 2008 09:11 AM
I built a new 3000 sq ft house three years ago. I did a lot to the work myself. I was able to by the materials wholesale. The materials cost me $7015. The rental on the excavator was $1200.

The annual heating cost on my house last winter was $161.00. For the whole year!!! My neighbors with comparable houses pay in the range of $800-$1100 to heat their house.

Is it worth it? You bet !!

Would I do it again ? You bet !!!

Your install costs will probably be more, but your savings will be comparable.
Dewayne Dean
www.PalaceGeothermal.com
Why settle for 90% when you can have 400%
We heat and cool with dirt!
visit- http://welserver.com/WEL0114/- to see my system
dmaceldUser is Offline
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12 Jan 2008 11:32 PM

The cost to put the loop in the ground can be a huge factor, and varies a lot depending on how you do it and who does it. I was going to do a DX system and radiant heat in the house I'm building but gave up on the plan for a couple of reasons. Wells were my only choice for the in-ground loop because of lot size. Four 100' wells were going to cost me over $6000. I don't think the inside-the-house portion would have been a whole lot more than a conventional heat pump. Fortunately, I'm not looking at having to pay full price for any equipment from my nephew HVAC contractor, but the DX system still would have been somewhere on the order of $22 to $23k, including the wells and about $8k for the radiant heating materials.

I've decided to go with a Daikin heat pump as a good alternative to geosource. It is the only system I know of that will kick out 110F air, or warmer, from the air handlers with an outdoor temp as low as 10F without auxillary heat. Our temps here seldom get down to 10F. It uses a variable refrigerant volume system and one outdoor unit can supply up to 8 indoor units. I'm going to use my crawl space as a supply plenum so I'm saving on ducting cost. Check them out at www.daikinac.com.

In my case I've pretty much chosen to ignore what my payback will be. I'm building a 2000+ sf ICF house with sealed and conditioned crawl space and attic. My peak heat load calculates out at only 20,000 to 36,000 Btuh depending on what heating/cooling load program I use. I'm afraid to find out that with that low a heat load my payback would cover the cost of electric heat!!


Even a retired engineer can build a house successfully w/ GBT help!
dmaceldUser is Offline
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12 Jan 2008 11:38 PM
Also, consider this bass ackwards thinking. The less energy efficient your house envelope is, the easier it will be to justify a geothermal system! Make your house super-duper energy efficient and you can heat it with candles! You can buy a lot of candles for the price of any heating system! Just kidding, but you get the idea.


Even a retired engineer can build a house successfully w/ GBT help!
TechGromitUser is Offline
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12 Jan 2008 11:43 PM

I would say the higher estimate you got would be more accurate. A Geothermal heating system definitely saves you money and you have to consider that the cost of heating your home with gas or oil is going to cost more as the price of fuel increases. My house is only half heated with an open loop geothermal system; the other is an air to air heat pump so my savings are not a large as some. Soon as I can reasonably afford to convert the other half I will. I would suggest a closed loop system is the better alternative. An open loop system may be a little less, but if the water has any impurities in it, it will cause the system to fail prematurely and/or have higher maintenance costs. Other then keeping the air filter clean, there really is no maintenance required.

 

wasUser is Offline
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17 Jan 2008 10:00 PM
I spoke to a company about geothermal. They suggested I call a well driller. The estimate for drilling a well in my area would be $50k. I would need to do two wells to get 12 gallons/per minute as recommended by the geotherm company. The other option is a closed loop system which would need to go vertical. That would even cost more with the need for 5 wells at 500 foot deep even costing more.

Does that add up to anyone? I live in northern NJ and the ground consists of a lot of rock.
geodeanUser is Offline
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18 Jan 2008 08:41 AM
water wells cost a lot more that geothermal wells. Geothermal wells don't usually go deeper than 400' some are only 100'. Depends on how tough the drilling gets as you go deeper.
Dewayne Dean
www.PalaceGeothermal.com
Why settle for 90% when you can have 400%
We heat and cool with dirt!
visit- http://welserver.com/WEL0114/- to see my system
PanelCraftersUser is Offline
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18 Jan 2008 11:34 AM
Posted By dmaceld on 01/12/2008 11:38 PM
Make your house super-duper energy efficient and you can heat it with candles!

There ya go folk's! If you build a Super Insulated structure, you will not be able to justify a geo system.
....jc
If you're not building with OSB SIPS(or ICF's), why are you building?
TechGromitUser is Offline
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18 Jan 2008 01:04 PM
I would recommend getting some more well drilling qoutes, 50k sounds exteremely high to me. While it's true I would expect a well in North Jersey to be considerability more than South Jersey, given the rocky ground and perhaps a deeper well, but 50k?
 
I've read one estimates of $15 to $25 per foot drilling, so if your well cost 50k, that's 2,500 feet, sounds more like your drilling for oil than water.  If you need a steel case, that adds to the cost and your going to have to buy a pump too. I've read water for North Jersey is between 200 and 400 feet, and permits run about $500, so figuring even $30 per foot and the deepest well you looking at $12,500 for well and permit, if your going with an open loop system, and are using a well for the return, it doesn't have to be a deep as the main well, figure half the depth, so around $6,500, the give you a cost of 19k before the pump cost. 


 
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24 Jan 2008 07:58 AM
50 k seems very high to me as well. I would guess 12 to 15 k but a geothermal installer would be the person to ask. The guy that did my system does a lot of work in Princeton NJ. He was great.

It is quite possible to do some calculations to determine the length of time a geo system would take to pay for itself. I say this because it WILL pay for itself eventually. Forget what that poster above said. Anytime you are gaining 4 units of energy with one unit of input you are better off. Cheaper, less greenhouse gasses, the systems generally last longer. If you are all electric there are no dangers of carbon monoxside poisoning. Better resale value too.

So just insulate your house, position it for passive solar and then do your calculations.

I would say it's always worth it but sometimes it's hard to afford the up front costs.

What we did was to use really cheap VCT ($0.15 / sf)  flooring (surpisingly good for a house with a toddler) and held off on the granite countertops. We can do that later and it does not affect function at all.
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24 Jan 2008 02:51 PM
Posted By Rsipgeo on 01/24/2008 7:58 AM
In fact, I am working working with a guy who is preparing the house so that we may eventuall sell our carbon offset credits. That would be double payback.
 


Can you tell us more about this. I have 2 acres of property and have a geothermal system and a heat pump, can all of this be converted into carbon credits that I could sell to someone?

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24 Jan 2008 03:49 PM
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to tell yet. I will definitely post when I'm allowed to.
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