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View Full Version : Life Homeowners or construction workers of CP, lend me your ear!


El Jefe
06-13-2012, 06:40 AM
My wife and I are going to be building a house in the near future (probably 2 years or so). We have been looking at all different types of new and cool things. I watched an episode of Dirty Jobs and Mike was on the job site of a construction company that installs geo-thermal heating and cooling systems under the house obviously prior to the house being built. They said this is very popular on the Left coast, but has moved into the Midwest also. The idea of it is simply interesting to me, I think it would be great to use the earths heating and cooling to cool my house. That being said, have any of you installed or had a system like this installed? If so, how great is it, how expenisve was it, would you recommend it?

Second question again for both types of CP'ers, can anyone share knowledge with me regarding wood burner boiler systems? We used a wood burining stove in our house when I lived at home. I watched some videos of those who have these wood burner boilers that heat their houses and garages efficiently. They put these things outside and then fill it with wood obviously and go from there. I heard you can get a 250 gallon or a 500 gallon burner, and you don't have to fill it with wood all the time because it's so big. The guy I talked with that has one lives in Cleveland Ohio which gets very cold in the winter and he said he has natural gas heating, but also had the wood boiler installed. He said he only used his natural gas a handful of times when it wasn't cold enough to warranty using the wood burner system. He said it has saved him a fortune. The reason I am really interested in this is because where we are going to build (still trying to work it out/fingers crossed) there is almost a limitless supply of firewood, and I have been cutting firewood all my life, so its free and its no big deal to do it.

inb4TLDR
Cliffs
:Asking advice about installing a geothermal heating and cooling system when I build my house.
:I then ask about anyone who has knowledge on a wood burner boiler.

BigRichard
06-13-2012, 07:00 AM
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Red Beans
06-13-2012, 07:02 AM
My parents have a wood boiler system at their place, they use it to help heat their home, and their pool. The pool is about 66k gallons and the house is a little over 3500 square feet. Pretty large heating space in my opinion. Taking their heating area they're heating into consideration, I still have to arn you that those boiler systems are not a set it and forget it kind of thing. You may be running morning and evening duty filling the thing up. That may vary depending on the heated space, and even though it really doesn't heat their whole home, it does provide them a pretty good break on the electric bill... Just my 2 cents...

El Jefe
06-13-2012, 07:07 AM
My parents have a wood boiler system at their place, they use it to help heat their home, and their pool. The pool is about 66k gallons and the house is a little over 3500 square feet. Pretty large heating space in my opinion. Taking their heating area they're heating into consideration, I still have to arn you that those boiler systems are not a set it and forget it kind of thing. You may be running morning and evening duty filling the thing up. That may vary depending on the heated space, and even though it really doesn't heat their whole home, it does provide them a pretty good break on the electric bill... Just my 2 cents...

I don't have a problem with that, because a wood burning stove in the house gives you the same issues. You have to fill it up every morning and every night, and sometimes you have to revive it in the morning. I'm used to doing that.

Let me ask you, what's it like to have rich parents? ;)

Saul Good
06-13-2012, 07:29 AM
Is this going to be your first house?

mikeyis4dcats.
06-13-2012, 07:46 AM
I have experience with geothermal on a commercial level. We did a project last year with 72 wells on it for a National Guard facility.

You muust have your soils tested for thermal conductivity, so are not as suited. If you have shallow rock, etc. that will be an issue. You will typically find that you need one 300' well for every 1.5 tons of HVAC needed. Costs of drilling vary widely. One concern in the midwest is that sometimes you may need supplemental heating, but probably not in a home.

You MUST make sure you use an experienced and reputable contractor. It is possible to "burn out" your site if it is not designed properly. In other words you must extract about the same amount of cooling in the summer as you deposit heat in the winter, otherwise you will have problems down the line.

Here is a place to start: http://www.igshpa.okstate.edu/index.htm

Dunit35
06-13-2012, 08:09 AM
We install geo, its expensive up front, has government rebates, and in the long run you save money. If I could ever afford the up front costs, I'd be all over it.

Iowanian
06-13-2012, 08:35 AM
I'll be building within the next year and I am of the belief that if you are building a house to stay a long time, it's a no brainer to install geothermal. I'm leaning that way very heavily with zones and the heated basement floor. Hot water is taken care of too.

With the rebates and incentives, it isn't really any higher than normal heating-cooling.

I'm not doing wood heat because I don't want to be cutting wood and stuffing it in an outdoor stove in Feb in 10 years.

Rain Man
06-13-2012, 08:49 AM
If you're designing your own, build in a thermal mass: http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/construction/solardesign/thermal.html

As a person who aspires to be a survivalist, I would build a thermal mass that contains a large quantity of sealed water. It would act as a thermal mass while also giving you a huge emergency water supply.*

*Note that I have no idea if this is feasible or if you end up being a mosquito breeding ground, but it seems like it would be possible.

Rain Man
06-13-2012, 08:53 AM
While not necessarily energy-efficient, our biggest regrets in our kitchen remodel a few years ago are:

1. Not installing that in-floor heating wiring in our kitchen. Maybe it's just the configuration of our house, but the tile floor gets cold in the winter and the in-floor heating would have been pretty cheap.

2. I don't think my wife wanted this, but I missed the opportunity to build an automatic pet water system. Envision a weight pad on the floor in some out of the way corner where, when the pet steps on it, starts a downward-facing water fountain that goes into a little 12"x12" pool with automatic overflow drain. That would've been the coolest thing ever.

Phobia
06-13-2012, 09:59 AM
Geothermal is awesome but you must be certain you're staying in the house and it's not practical for tract homes simply because you'll never, ever get out of it on resale what you put into it if anything ever happens that requires you to sell. It costs in the tens of thousands so that's a lot of months and years to recoup that investment.

Rain Man
06-13-2012, 10:03 AM
Is geothermal the same thing as a heat pump?

When I replaced our furnace last year, I inquired about a heat pump and the contractor really didn't like the idea. I can't remember if his reasoning was more for return on investment or some technical reason in our house, though.

Phobia
06-13-2012, 10:03 AM
Is geothermal the same thing as a heat pump?

When I replaced our furnace last year, I inquired about a heat pump and the contractor really didn't like the idea. I can't remember if his reasoning was more for return on investment or some technical reason in our house, though.

Not even close.

vailpass
06-13-2012, 10:07 AM
We install geo, its expensive up front, has government rebates, and in the long run you save money. If I could ever afford the up front costs, I'd be all over it.

Are those rebated expiring soon?

Rain Man
06-13-2012, 10:13 AM
Not even close.

What's the difference?

And this is assuming that I don't live in Iceland.

Red Beans
06-13-2012, 10:22 AM
Let me ask you, what's it like to have rich parents? ;)

Funny you should ask, casue I don't know. They built the house themselves over the course of about seven years of weekends. The pool came from a windfall after my maternal grandmother passed away. I can see how that would come off that way...

They just worked they're asses off:D

Dunit35
06-13-2012, 10:35 AM
Are those rebated expiring soon?

Not that I know of.

As everyone said, dont do it if you plan on moving anytime soon. It takes a long time to recoup that cost of the unit.

Phobia
06-13-2012, 10:48 AM
What's the difference?

And this is assuming that I don't live in Iceland.

A heat pump uses energy from existing utilities to pump heat... out of the house in the summer and into the house in the winter. Depending on where you live, a heat pump could be a money saver on your monthly utility bill. Geothermal uses the earth's energy and very little electricity. Your utility bill is virtually non-existent with geothermal.

vailpass
06-13-2012, 11:02 AM
Not that I know of.

As everyone said, dont do it if you plan on moving anytime soon. It takes a long time to recoup that cost of the unit.

Thanks. No need for that in my situation, would be a hell of a lot more trouble/expense than it would ever be worth.
Easier to call the knucklehead contractors when the AC or pool systems need tuned up.

Rain Man
06-13-2012, 11:20 AM
A heat pump uses energy from existing utilities to pump heat... out of the house in the summer and into the house in the winter. Depending on where you live, a heat pump could be a money saver on your monthly utility bill. Geothermal uses the earth's energy and very little electricity. Your utility bill is virtually non-existent with geothermal.

I want that.


It does make me wonder what type of environmental impact that stuff has, though. I bet in fifty years we'll discover that it destroys the ecosystem by freezing worm larvae or something, which then kills the birds, which then kills the house cats, which then ... does something to destroy the ecosystem.

El Jefe
06-13-2012, 11:24 AM
A heat pump uses energy from existing utilities to pump heat... out of the house in the summer and into the house in the winter. Depending on where you live, a heat pump could be a money saver on your monthly utility bill. Geothermal uses the earth's energy and very little electricity. Your utility bill is virtually non-existent with geothermal.

The more I research it the more I am interested in doing it. If we are able to build on this specific property, I will have zero plans to move in the future, this is where we would want to raise a family. Obviously things could change, but we would plan on staying for 20+ years at least. I currently live in a condo, and we have passed on buying some cheaper houses. I want to build a house how I want it, and keep it for a long long time. Im willing to stay in our small place and save for our own custom house.

Do you install geothermal?

El Jefe
06-13-2012, 11:24 AM
Is this going to be your first house?

Yes it would be our first house.

El Jefe
06-13-2012, 11:47 AM
We install geo, its expensive up front, has government rebates, and in the long run you save money. If I could ever afford the up front costs, I'd be all over it.

What kind of up front costs have you seen? Obviously I know thats subjective to some extent.

Alton deFlat
06-13-2012, 11:55 AM
Geothermal is the way to go, especially if you plan on staying there a while. We just had it installed in two of our facilities, and it's saving utilities costs.

Unless you're strapped for space, there's no need to put the wells under your house though. The way they fuse the pipe, there's little chance of a problem, but if there were, I'd rather have it accessible.

Phobia
06-13-2012, 12:04 PM
Do you install geothermal?

I wish. I'd be a lot more well off than I am now.

El Jefe
06-13-2012, 12:24 PM
Geothermal is the way to go, especially if you plan on staying there a while. We just had it installed in two of our facilities, and it's saving utilities costs.

Unless you're strapped for space, there's no need to put the wells under your house though. The way they fuse the pipe, there's little chance of a problem, but if there were, I'd rather have it accessible.

That's the kind of information I was looking for. I would have never thought to do that, thanks for the information.

El Jefe
06-13-2012, 12:31 PM
Do any of you know what kind of cash we are talking about? Lets just say a 2000 square foot house with a basement. Are we talking 10k, 20k, 30k+

cookster50
06-13-2012, 12:36 PM
Do any of you know what kind of cash we are talking about? Lets just say a 2000 square foot house with a basement. Are we talking 10k, 20k, 30k+

Quotes I've seen when looking at articles about it typically put it in the 20k range.

El Jefe
06-13-2012, 01:47 PM
Quotes I've seen when looking at articles about it typically put it in the 20k range.

See to me, that would be worth it. You would get that back easily if you stayed in the house for a while, which I intend to do.

Saul Good
06-13-2012, 01:55 PM
Yes it would be our first house.

I don't know that I would get too cute with my first house.

mikeyis4dcats.
06-13-2012, 02:01 PM
it is expensive, but there have been a lot of tax and utility credits to offset that cost. that depends on your location and tax situation though.

vailpass
06-13-2012, 02:30 PM
Some Tax Credit Details Here:
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.



Tax Credit:
30% of cost with no upper limit
Expires:
December 31, 2016
Details:
Existing homes & new construction qualify. Both principal residences and second homes qualify. Rentals do not qualify.

Geothermal Heat Pumps
Small Wind Turbines (Residential)
Solar Energy Systems

Tax Credit:
Credit Details: 30% of the cost, up to $500 per .5 kW of power capacity
Expires:
December 31, 2016
Details:
Existing homes & new construction qualify. Must be your principal residence. Rentals and second homes do not qualify.

Fuel Cells (Residential Fuel Cell and Microturbine System)

Chief Roundup
06-13-2012, 03:02 PM
Heat pumps work like an A/C they just have a reversing valve that changes the direction of the flow of refrigerant. They basicly absorb and dispell the temperature of the air around them through the changing of liquid to gas of the freon. If you are in a colder area you will not like a heat pump with electric heat strips. Once it gets below 35 or so the heat pump will not be working it will be the strips only.

There are 2 different types of geo thermal units. There is a pump and dump and a closed loop. Geo units are easily TWICE the price of a standard split system. That is not including the wells that will have to be drilled or the well pumps.
An Geo can save some on the monthly bill but they have more parts to break down that can be expensive.
I have installed and serviced a lot of Geo units. Because they are not as common the parts are more expensive and sometimes will take up to a week to get the parts.

Being licensed in the HVACR industry for 10 years money aside I would not put in a Geo thermal unit in my house. The most important part of your Heating and Air Conditioning system is the duct work. It needs to be tight and have no leaks.
2 years ago I put in a 17 seer heat pump split system with 20KW of electric heat strips in northern Arkansas in a 3200 sq. ft. home. It is insulated with foam in the walls and cellulose in the attic. His highest electric bill has been $58.

Iowanian
06-13-2012, 08:05 PM
Do any of you know what kind of cash we are talking about? Lets just say a 2000 square foot house with a basement. Are we talking 10k, 20k, 30k+

I was talking with a dealer last week. Around $30k with 2 zones and heat in the floor but after rebates and so forth it was looking like 14-15k out of pocket for me. Without the zones and floor heat, I'm thinking it was around 25k before the tax man magic.

HonestChieffan
06-13-2012, 09:43 PM
My next house will be foam insulated and probably have a heat pump fed by water out of a pond not a well or ground loop. That said, insulation is the key to efficiency. I know a few people doing their own natural gas wells in the area but we are rural so that makes a difference

mikeyis4dcats.
06-14-2012, 09:58 AM
actually heat pumps used in a geothermal system have LESS moving parts than traditional equipment, and since they are typically installed indoors, they last up to 3 times longer.

Hoover
06-14-2012, 10:04 AM
People up the geothermal wells directly under the house when there is not space to put them elsewhere. My wife and I built our house in 2010 and installed a geo thermal system. We have four wells that were drilled on the side of where the house sits. I'd only locate them below the house if I didn't have the space to put it elsewhere.

Having a geo system means that your house is almost totally powered by electricity. The only thing that runs on gas in my house is the fireplace. Our highest utility bill for a 3500 square foot house is $160 bucks a month.

I'm glad we did it.

notorious
06-14-2012, 10:09 AM
Unless you're strapped for space, there's no need to put the wells under your house though. The way they fuse the pipe, there's little chance of a problem, but if there were, I'd rather have it accessible.

That's how they did a lot of them in Greensburg.