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  1. #1

    Deciding between Geo and Propane.....

    Hello everyone, I'm new here but for a good reason. My wife and I bought our new house in October and suffered through this cold winter with propane and a furnace that was installed in 1986. With propane prices going above $4 a gallon we got away lucky this winter by only paying about $2000 with the thermostat set at 61* to heat the house. My cousin has it much worse apparently. Anyway, because of this and the fact that there isn't a Natural gas line infront of the house we decided to look into geothermal to save money but I'm worried that we won't like it or it won't pay itself off like expected. Here are the stats we have so far:

    Currently: 2800 2 story house with existing duct work and an A/C unit, Propane furnace and water heater all installed in 1986 and all at the end of their expected lives. There is a Natural gas line that ends about 4 houses down and would cost us $12,000 just to run it to the house. So, were basically at the point where we could keep propane but not know how much it's going to cost us to keep the house uncomfortably warm in the winter with the volatle prices now a day or do Geo.

    We were quote by our contractor, which seems to be pretty darn good from what I can tell, $16,400 for a Waterfurnace sereis 5 ton single stage, $16,700 for a waterfurnace series 5 ton Two stage and $20,200 for a Waterfurnace Series 7 5 ton dual stage all prices including the horizontal loop placement in our yard. The amount of loop is around 1100-1200 feet running 6 - 200' bore loops or 8- 150' bore loops if space is an issue.

    My questions are:
    1) Does it sound like the correct amount of piping is being installed, because my understanding is it has to be just right or it will negate the cost savings if too long or run constantly if too small.

    2) Which system would you all recommend, there are 3 options and I can't decide what would be best. It seems the series 7 is about 30% more efficient but is it worth that extra for the efficiency?

    3) Our electric rate here is about 6 cents/kwh so really reasonable but what is nice is our electric company will do a budget each month so you don't pay higher in the summer/winter. The electric company also offers an $800 rebate for installing a geothermal unit. Based on this I'm thinking we will save money running geo instead of propane and hopefully be more comfortable.

    4) Does Geothermal make the house feel cold even if it is at 68 or 70* in the winter since it doesn't blow 105+ degree air into the house?

    5) Does anyone know if a washable filter is worth buying instead of $40 replacements that go with the waterfurnace?

    Thanks alot everyone this is a big decision and I want to make the right choice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Etters PA.
    I think you posted in the wrong place. Maybe. Mod will move it for you.

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  3. #3
    Sorry, thought it was where I would be allowed to post. Mod please move it if it's not too much trouble.

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Well I'd think long and hard about that natural gas line. The installed cost is comparable between geothermal and natural gas in your case, and I'd bet it would cost you less to operate the natural gas furnace. You never mentioned how old your a/c system is? Is it also at the end of its useful life? If so, then geothermal probably makes sense. I'd select the series 5 2-stage. I think the payback for the series 7 is probably too long.

  5. #5
    The AC is as old as the rest and the inspector from when we bought the house stated it was undersized.

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  6. #6
    Nat gas prices rose sharply this winter and can be just as volatile as propane/oil. My geo cost me $300 per month in the two coldest months this winter to heat up and provide hot water for my 3900 sq ft house.

  7. #7
    For an almost 4000sq ft house that is a good price. Were looking at 4-500 a month with propane.

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  8. #8
    I should add that I'm located in a zone 5 climate and I pay 13 cents a kW...more than double what you would pay.

  9. #9
    The estimator said his friend paid 350 as his highest electric bill when it got down to 15 below for a couple weeks this winter including all other electric usage for the house. Otherwise its closer to $200-250 in the winter. That seemed high at first but I guess it's still less than I paid for propane.

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Portland OR
    Ok, here are some answers for you.
    1. That loop seems short, it does depend on where you are located, but I usually put in 400-600' of pipe per ton with a horizontal bore. Most vertical bores(more efficient because of the depth) are 400' of pipe per ton. Here is a horizontal bore system I have on energy logging, its a bit oversized at homeowners request with 1,800' of piping(9 bore holes at 100' long/200' of pipe, i recommended 1,600' of pipe in 8 bore holes) and that is a 3 ton system in a mild climate!
    2. The 7 series is quieter and is incredible. I am putting a 7 series in my personal house, I doubt it will pay for itself in pure $$$ but in noise and comfort yes its worth it and being that you are in a colder climate I would go for the 7 series hands down.
    3. 6 cents per KWh, why have you not done geo already?!?!? You will be saving so much going from $4 per gallon, my area is 11 cents per KWh and I have ALL electric 3,500 sq foot homes that cool in the summer for $105 and heat in the winter for $200.
    4. No geo does not make the house feel cold, geo heat is very warm and similar to propane IF installed properly with a good loop. One of the first homes we did years ago the wife came home, felt the heat and said "oh the new geo system isn't started yet, I thought they were getting done today" Husband just smiled knowing that his geo WAS running and his wife who was against the idea didn't even know... He also saved $3,500 in propane that first year :-)
    5. DO NOT GET A WASHABLE FILTER, they let way to much debri into your system and why let your five figure system break because you wanted to save a few bucks on a filter? At Sky Heating we add Honeywell F100 filter cabinets, they take a $20 filter that can be bought at home depot(or we sell them to local customers) and they do a better job than the waterfurnace filters and are less costly.
    Check out my YouTube channel - We have customer testimonials, product reviews and more!
    Like us on FACEBOOK if you like our advice here!

  11. #11
    Very good info, I really appreciate it. Kinda sounds like we might be undersized in it piping they planned as stated. Is it short enough to cause a problem or is it very region dependent? The company can add an adapter to allow a standard size filter to be used.

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