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  1. #1
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    Geothermal vs Natural Gas

    ok a buddy of mine is looking at doing a GeoThermal in Buffalo NY and he said he was told it would heat his house at any outside temp he would see no problem.

    Also cost in new construction about the same as gas forced air.

    Something doesnt add up.... any experts here ??

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by cvcman View Post
    ok a buddy of mine is looking at doing a GeoThermal in Buffalo NY and he said he was told it would heat his house at any outside temp he would see no problem.

    Also cost in new construction about the same as gas forced air.

    Something doesnt add up.... any experts here ??
    Holy sweeping statements. Well, hope this helps:

    A) A geo system can be designed to heat the home with no alternate back-up fuel. It's done in commercial applications all the time, and I also see no problem with it.

    B) If it is a closed loop system (driven verticle wells), which is the most common type of earth heat exchanger, the cost difference between a conventional system (gas) and a geo system for new construction is at least the cost of the wells. Ever paid for a well? Yeah, big money. ANd you usually need multiple wells.

    C) Street gas in Buffalo will be only slightly more to operate than a geo heat pump system, cost wise. Making the payback probably 60+ years. But that is a sweeping statement also. Although I have seen examples of this fuel type comparison (geo vs gas) on a much larger scale a number of times...

  3. #3
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    I thought I read that areas that had zero degree weather that Geo would not keep up.

    What would the cost be for a normal syatem in a new home 2000 sf
    ?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cvcman View Post
    I thought I read that areas that had zero degree weather that Geo would not keep up.

    What would the cost be for a normal syatem in a new home 2000 sf
    ?
    Many things dictate well size: system capacity (heat and/or cooling load) the balance between the heating and cooling needs of the structure, ground conductivity (including water movement), well grout conductivity, and more.

    The cost of sinking wells is such a substantial part of the overall system cost that I suspect many systems go in with back up fuel in the interest of limiting the well-field size to keep the budget reasonable. Like I said before - it is entirely possible to heat with geo heat pumps and no back-up, even in areas with design temp lows well below zero degrees. But there is a diminishing return on the investment, so to speak, related to the large capital out-lay for the wells. You follow?

    The website rules forbid cost discussions. Furthermore, as an engineer, I pride myself in being way out of touch with the installed cost of anything.

    Seriously though, as I mentioned already - the big difference in cost between a conventional system and a closed loop geothermal system will be the cost of the wells. Too many variables to give good info on this anyhow. What kind of system? High efficiency? VS blower? Single stage furnace? Two stage furnace? Three stage furnace? Humidity control? SEER 13 cooling? SEER 19 cooling? Very open ended to ask, "how much would a normal system cost for a 2,00 sq ft home", ya know? But again, all else being sort of equal - the geo system tacks on the cost of the wells, as the other equipment is similar cost, in a broad sense of the word.

  5. #5
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    Jun 2006
    Location
    Lititz, PA (Lit' itz) not ( Li' titz)
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    Tell your friend to go with geo! (closed loop)

    This is why.

    its a new house and they are financing.

    The extra money they borrow for the system, which will increase the monthly payments by about the same amount they will save in the utility bill.

    In my area a KW of electricity for my house is 10 cents and a CCF of natural gas is $2.50

    pay back in my book is a bad word. It is not fair. What is the payback of a car you buy? Every house is different I've had paybacks from 2 to 15 years. If your going to use payback terms then lets look at rate of return. Your going to pay x amount more for your system. Your rate of return may be in the area of 8-18 percent. Thats better than in the bank. So if your rate of return is only 8 percent so what if it takes 12 years, you are getting a great rate of return even if your bank goes under.

    Average life of a geo 25 years Your a/c add on 15 years gas furnace 15-20 years (closed loop)

    At any rate your friend should be able to get a cost analysis from the heating contractor that can give them all that info.

    Respectfully

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by cvcman View Post
    ok a buddy of mine is looking at doing a GeoThermal in Buffalo NY and he said he was told it would heat his house at any outside temp he would see no problem.

    Also cost in new construction about the same as gas forced air.

    Something doesnt add up.... any experts here ??



    Geothermal is the best way to go for a number of reasons. First of all its a lot more effcient than a Nat. Gas furnace or even propane for that matter. Secondly, the system will pay for itself in no time. Also a Geothermal system is alot safer, atleast I think so. You wont have to work about Nat. Gas leaking into his home and potentially causing an explosion. Plus one of the advantages is that in the Summer months he will get free hot water. Its his choice, but I highly suggest taking a more indepth look at a Geothermal system, because there are numerous different layouts he can choose from.


    Hope this helps

  7. #7
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    Oct 2008
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    Depending on the size of the property and the size of the house, your friends may not have to go vertical. Just be sure (as always) to have the system properly sized for the house and remember that a horizontal ground-source system will mess you up if you go to put in a pool in a few years.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by UNOH1 View Post
    Geothermal is the best way to go for a number of reasons. First of all its a lot more effcient than a Nat. Gas furnace or even propane for that matter. Secondly, the system will pay for itself in no time. Also a Geothermal system is alot safer, atleast I think so. You wont have to work about Nat. Gas leaking into his home and potentially causing an explosion. Plus one of the advantages is that in the Summer months he will get free hot water. Its his choice, but I highly suggest taking a more indepth look at a Geothermal system, because there are numerous different layouts he can choose from.


    Hope this helps
    I'm sorry sir, but you made a number of un-informed comments in that paragraph.

    Making a $20,000 descision shouldn't be made by considering glossed over idealistic information you may have read in This Old House, etc...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by UNOH1 View Post
    Secondly, the system will pay for itself in no time.

    Hope this helps
    Some geo systems have a 20 plus year pay back.

    Some pay back quicker, if the Nat Gas rate is extremely high.

    Perhaps you want to run the pay back comparison for him.
    Instead of just guessing it will pay back quickly.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Some geo systems have a 20 plus year pay back.

    Some pay back quicker, if the Nat Gas rate is extremely high.
    Some never payback!

  11. #11
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    You are all assuming that the cost of natural gas is a constant; the reality is that electricity prices have been flat in many areas yet gas has gone up by at least 300% since 2000.

    North American gas production is doomed to decline (already has since peak), prices will skyrocket over the next 20 years - go geo!
    General public's attitude towards our energy predicament: "I reject the reality of finite resource depletion and substitute it with my own; energy is infinite, we just need an alternative storage medium to run the cars on. The economy can grow indefinitely - we just need to "green" everything! Technology is energy! Peak what?"

  12. #12
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    The price of all fuels is going up, including electric.

    Geo is a good answer in many places and applictaions, but not all.
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  13. #13
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    Oct 2008
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    Electricity prices are by far the most stable compared to natural gas or oil.

    I ran a calculation today on my oil furnace vs. my heat pump. The oil furnace costs $28 per million BTU with a $3.35/gal price and an 82% efficient furnace.

    The heat pump varies with OD temps, but for average winter temps here in VA, the heat pump is around $6-$7 per million BTU. And that's just with and air-to-air heat pump. A geothermal would be even lower... in the $4 range. Our electric rates are low at $0.063 cents/kWH. Hooray for nuclear power!

    Your friend should do a similar calculation. Figure out the cost per million BTU of the two choices and see where things fall. Get some quotes on both types of systems and see if it's worth the investment.

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