Geothermal heat for new house in Huntsville, AL


  #1  
Old 12-22-05, 07:21 PM
Rick Hilst
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Geothermal heat for new house in Huntsville, AL

I'm building a new house in Huntsville, Alabama and am considering using a geothermal heat pump for heating/cooling. However, I have the following concerns:

o Finding an HVAC company that can be trusted to properly size and install the geothermal heat pump
o Finding an HVAC company to fix any problems that arise with the heat pump
o Relying on hardware from a relatively small company (like WaterFurnace) that may cease to exist by the time problems start to arise with the heat pump. It's a lot safer to buy from Trane or Carrier (do they carry and install geothermal heat pumps?).
o How high are the initial costs for the heat pump and how long to recoup those costs in lower energy bills? Just how much does the geothermal heat pump save versus the fairly efficient air heat pumps (SEER numbers > 14) or a gas furnace/central air combination?

I have some secondary concerns like how much space is required for the equipment for the geothermal heat pump? If the equipment is in a crawl space, does that introduce some problems (e.g., freezing) and what kind of impact on performance does having the unit outside (crawl space) cause? Am I better off putting this equipment in the garage or even cordoning off a portion of the garage and heating/cooling it (still possible at this stage)?

Any help on any of these topics would be appreciated.

On the positive side, with energy costs rising and undoubtedly going to rise further, a solution that minimizes the energy requirements seems like a good answer.

BTW, the house I'm building is a 3300 square foot (heated) ranch. I plan on it being very well insulated, using low E windows and, in general, doing whatever to keep energy costs down.
 
  #2  
Old 12-22-05, 08:54 PM
T
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You are on the right track. You cannot find a more efficient system than a geothermal. Your part of the country is the perfect location for a GHP because of climate. The cost is generally 1 1/2 to 2 times higher to install than a gas furnace with central air but it will pay you back in less than 10 years. Maybe within 5. Trane makes a very good heat pump manufactured in Waco TX. They also make a split unit which can be remotely located in a warm space and connected to an air handler. It is an approximate 2 ft. cube. The most important thing is to find a contractor with tons of experience. A heat pump is nothing to experiment with. Good luck.
 
  #3  
Old 12-24-05, 10:16 PM
fsq4cw
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Weíre into our 3rd winter heating with geothermal. I highly recommend it. It is the best way to space-condition Ė period! With the growing popularity of geothermal heat pumps and rising energy prices, I wouldnít worry about the viability of any of the major brands of geothermal companies. In fact, some of these companies are just lesser known because their main niche is geothermal; theyíve been around for quite a while and some manufacture geothermal heat pumps with outputs up to 1/2 million BTUís that are used in series to provide output into the multi-million BTUís.

Never mind residential geothermal, do some research to see whatís going on with commercial, industrial, and institutional geothermal as well as geothermal for skating arenas, curling rinks and swimming pools, not to mention thermal storage during off-peek hours.
Itís Carrier, Lennox and all these other big names that I would be more worried about if they donít change Ė the earth is moving beneath their feet!

Where I live, government and utility grants totaling up to over $3/4 million are available for new projects and retrofits that move away from conventional technologies and embrace geothermal; quite an incentive Iíd say.

SR

For more information, this site may be useful:

http://how-efficient-is-it-magazine.com
 
  #4  
Old 12-27-05, 08:45 AM
F
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fsq, i've been thinking geothermal for about 2 years now. how many sq ft is your home and did you go earth or wells ? if earth, how large and what type of grid did you use ? thanks for the link
 
  #5  
Old 12-27-05, 06:58 PM
T
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Flop, wells are the way to go but are expensive. Ground loops can be very effective. I usually install SEPARATE 1000 ft loops per ton. I will sometimes install up to 1500 ft loops in sandier soil. The key is to get them as deep as possible. If you are running into ground water, you have hit the jackpot.
 
  #6  
Old 12-28-05, 06:44 AM
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yeah, wells or lakes are great heat sinks but i don't have that option. my well is marginal at best and at local drilling prices a new well or two is tough. i can do my own excavation at six foot depths and 1000' per ton is ok too. what i think i need is a demand calculator of some sort to tell me how many linear feet, at what depth, and what spacing in my soil and location. also, how sophisticated does the manifold system have to be? i know you can get real fancy with temp sensors and anticipation software, but you can also spend enough to offset savings and payback so it shows up about when your grandchildren retire. any good geothermal web sites would be appreciated. also anyone with horror or success stories is welcome to p.m. me. thanks
 
  #7  
Old 12-28-05, 07:57 PM
fsq4cw
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Re flopshot:

Our home is about 2400 sq. ft. The heat pump is a Nordic DX-45. Itís a closed loop system with 3 boreholes each 100 ft. deep vertical. We did hit an underground stream at about 35 ft. That was a bonus! Iíve got nothing but praise for this system. Itís absolutely amazing through every extreme of temperature through every season. Our winters are VERY cold and our summers can be very hot and humid. The only thing I have to do is change the filter every few months and check to make sure itís still running. It always is cause the temp is right on the button. When the temp drops 1 degree from the set point I know itís time to clean/change the filter. Thatís it!

Our friends and neighbors go from amazed when they hear about where our heat is coming from to mad as hell when they hear how much it costs us to heat Ė usually THOUSANDS $ less than them!

For more information, these sites may be useful:

http://how-efficient-is-it-magazine.com

http://www.nordicghp.com/mg/nordic_heat_pump.htm


SR
 
  #8  
Old 12-29-05, 05:31 AM
F
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thanks for the links. geo always made sense but it's tough finding info. everyone wants you to call them and i'm not ready for the hard sell yet.
 
 

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