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What kind of geothermal installation is most energy efficient, and can you install it yourself?

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What kind of geothermal installation is most energy efficient, and can you install it yourself?

Postby burhdon9 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:40 pm

Some geothermal installations involve drilling a well, others involve laying the anti-freeze filled plastic pipes in ditches.
Which is the better system? What has your experience been?
Does someone sell a kit for installing the system yourself?
burhdon9
 
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What kind of geothermal installation is most energy efficient, and can you install it yourself?

Postby dicky20 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:47 pm

Pascha, I can help you. Unfortunately the responses you've gotten so far reflect the lack of understanding about this type of geothermal.

Sorry in advance for the long response - but it will give you some of the answers you are looking for.

The type of geothermal you are asking about is sometimes referred to as geoexchange or ground source heat pumps. You made a smart decision looking into them. The EPA has called them the "most cost effective, energy efficient, environmentally friendly way" to condition our homes. They are five times more efficient than the highest efficiency gas or oil furnaces in heating and more than twice as efficient than traditional heat pumps in cooling. Plus, there is federal, state and county rebates that will help you pay for your system since it's considered a "renewable resource".

Companies like WaterFurnace are pioneering the use of these systems and you can see that investors are agreeing, the stock is one of the best performing stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange (WFI).

Here’s a quick overview on how it works: Unlike traditional heat pumps that are hindered by wildly fluctuating outdoor temperatures, geothermal systems use the relatively constant heat just below the frost line (50-65 degrees) to provide year round comfort and amazing environmental benefits. To extract this stored heat, a series of polyethylene pipes are buried 5 ft below the surface. These pipes (called a “loop”) circulate water and an antifreeze mixture (ethanol – basically alcohol). During the winter, while traditional heat pumps are struggling to pull heat from zero degree air, the geothermal system is pulling from a reservoir of fifty degree heat. It compresses this heat to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and distributes it throughout your home. During the summer, the process reverses and the system now pulls heat from your home and places it back into the cooler earth, completing the cycle. They simply move heat - not create it.

The loop type that is best for you depends on the amount of land you have. If you have a large yard, horizontal loops (trenches) are the cheapest solution. The downside to this is that you will have to re-landscape after installation. If you live in a neighborhood and have little yard space, vertical loops (wells) are about your only option. These loops are more expensive, but can be installed in as small an area as 10 square feet.

There are variations of each. An "open" loop uses wells to pull water from the ground but then dumps this water after it is done. This is the most efficient loop, but you'll generally need to upgrade your well pump and have somewhere to discharge all the water. A "horizontal bore" uses a radio controlled drilling rig that horizontally drills and leaves your yard intact. And there is a "pond" loop that is a good solution if you have a large body of water near the house.

Installing a geothermal system yourself is NOT a good idea. . There are Air Conditioning contractors that I wouldn't even recommend doing it. Always find a contractor who's been trained by the geothermal manufacturer and has plenty of installations under his belt. Ask for references from previous GEOTHERMAL customers.

And as far as payback goes, grizzbr1 is misinformed. Since a geothermal system can cut your utility bills as much as 70%, the money you save every month will allow you to recoup your costs in about 5-7 years.

If you have any more questions, look at the links I've provided at the end of this answer. There are some good resources out there.
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What kind of geothermal installation is most energy efficient, and can you install it yourself?

Postby fitzwilliam66 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:48 pm

What kind of winters do you have? A heat pump doesn't work well when the temperature is below 45'. If the air temperature doesn't get below 45 much, just use a standard, open air heat pump. If the ground just freezes a foot or so down, dig trenches. If it freezes much further down, go for the well. Search far and wide for someone with a good reputation. I've known too many people who haven't been happy with their setup.
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What kind of geothermal installation is most energy efficient, and can you install it yourself?

Postby hulbard » Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:08 pm

Simple things like skylights should be used long before you start drilling wells and trying to be fancy..
hulbard
 
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What kind of geothermal installation is most energy efficient, and can you install it yourself?

Postby erwinek67 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:16 pm

Either you have a lot of money and no idea what to spend it on, or you are making a wish list of alternative energy systems. Your ideas are too expensive ... you will never make back the money you spend.
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