Geothermal Costs, Payback Time, Pros and Cons

For topics about heating with other types of fuel such as wood burners, gas furnaces, oil burners and geothermal heat pumps.
User avatar
wlape3
Member
Posts: 2553
Joined: Mon. Jan. 12, 2009 7:38 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Propane
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Location: Delanson, NY transitioning to SE Mass

Post Tue. Nov. 03, 2009 7:45 pm

Two of my neighbors in PA had geothermal units. They used well water as the heat source/sink. They were both very happy with it. I would have liked to put in a ground coil and a geothermal unit where I live now but the ground is like cement and you have to go at least 4 feet down to get below the frost line. Too expensive.
"We have met the enemy and he is us" - Pogo Possum


User avatar
dtzackus
Member
Posts: 284
Joined: Tue. Jul. 08, 2008 6:36 pm
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Gibraltar LCC
Stove/Furnace Make: Gibraltar
Stove/Furnace Model: LCC
Location: Schuylkill County, PA

Post Tue. Nov. 03, 2009 7:49 pm

They have the same flaw as do Heat Pumps have. Regardless of how much electric they consume, they only blow out 80 degree heat, nothing like the fossil fuel heat we are used to. When we had our heat pump, it just seemed never to be warm, and always ran. Very happy with our Hand Fired Unit. Dan

User avatar
wlape3
Member
Posts: 2553
Joined: Mon. Jan. 12, 2009 7:38 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Propane
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Location: Delanson, NY transitioning to SE Mass

Post Tue. Nov. 03, 2009 8:04 pm

Most of the new installs in southeastern PA are heat pumps. It's really too cold there to get the most efficiency out of those units. Most of my friend who had them hated them because the air was never very warm and when it got really cold out the electric meter would spin like a top.
"We have met the enemy and he is us" - Pogo Possum

User avatar
europachris
Member
Posts: 993
Joined: Sat. Dec. 09, 2006 5:54 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM 350/Iron Fireman
Stove/Furnace Model: Custom bituminous burner
Location: N. Central Illinois

Post Tue. Nov. 03, 2009 9:51 pm

Cheetah wrote:That would be a vertical loop closed system. They still make what is called an open loop system which takes water from one well, runs it through a heat exchanger, and injects it back into the ground through another well. Their big selling point is reduced installation cost. They can work but they can also have problems that make them more expensive in the long run.


My parents built a house in 1980/81 and installed ground source heat pumps (Carrier) - one for upstairs and one for downstairs, as well as a Weso stove in the family room and a Woodchuck add-on furnace in the basement. The heatpumps were fed from a well and the "waste" water was dumped into the creek that ran behind the house in the woods. A few other homes had similar systems but had a return well, and I remember a few ice rinks for front yards in the winter when the return well couldn't handle the water flow and overflowed.

We moved in 1984, and while we only had issues with the well tank bladders failing, the new owners had to tear out the entire well pump shortly after moving in - I seem to recall acidic water and it ate the drop pipe as the reason. Finally the entire system was ripped out and I think conventional air-source pumps were put in. This was southern Indiana, so it didn't get REAL cold for long.

Chris
Economic Stimulus = Supporting your local Miners
I love the smell of Illinois bituminous in the morning.
Have you hooked a clinker today?

User avatar
Yanche
Member
Posts: 3032
Joined: Fri. Dec. 23, 2005 12:45 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Location: Sykesville, Maryland

Post Tue. Nov. 03, 2009 10:43 pm

Ground source heat pumps systems can have low operating costs compared to other heating fuels in many parts of the country. The huge problem is they need to be engineered to the local weather, geology and water source. When this is not done the system will fail. Competent engineers and installers are difficult to find and are expensive. The total cost is often way beyond a residential home owners budget. My local school district is currently installing a large well water sourced system in a very large 40 year old high school. It's a multi-million dollar installation that will dramatically reduce electric costs, over the old electric resistance heat system. It's engineered to have a 40+ year lifetime. Break even on the investment is about 15-18 years if electric rates increase at historic rates.
Yanche
Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Stoker Boiler burning Anthracite Pea Coal

ScottinPA
New Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon. Aug. 10, 2009 4:02 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: none(still building the house)
Location: Russell, PA

Post Thu. Dec. 03, 2009 1:44 pm

I'm building a house in NW PA and am having a ground loop geo system installed. Like was posted previously, it takes a good installer with good references. I've done quite a bit of research and have 6 quotes. Yes, its more expensive to install but the incentives are good and expected payback should be in about 4-5 years or sooner.

Having said that, I do have a fireplace extrodinair insert being installed and a flue to the basement for a wood/coal stove. Nothing like a good fire to knock the chill off.

coalnewbie
Member
Posts: 6195
Joined: Sat. May. 24, 2008 4:26 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL AnthraKing 180K, Pocono110K,KStokr 90K, DVC
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Invader 2
Baseburners & Antiques: Wings Best, Glenwood #8(x2) Herald 116x
Coal Size/Type: Rice,
Other Heating: Heating Oil CH, Toyotomi OM 22
Location: Chester, NY

Post Sat. Dec. 05, 2009 1:41 pm

The best way to evaluate something is to look at geothermal systems in your part of the world - say like Sullivan County technical college NY (BOCES). Put in 7 years ago at incredible expense and now lies unused. There are two problems.

Ground water at say 48F and you can heat pump it down to say 35F and lets say it's 90% efficient. In summer great for air but the vast majority of the use around here is for heat. If you do the math you find about 70% of the energy comes from electricity. Artesian well systems do a little better.

With Sullivan, much more heat is required than air and so the system got less and less efficient over the years the AS THE GROUND FROZE UP. I evaluated this technology and rejected it. Never mind the STUPID pay back time.

PS would anybody like to guess how solar is working today and most NE winter days and again the payback. People opt for these systems as they are ignorant - sorry to say it like it is.

Now I'm busy - lit up the DVC today and the Pocono is churning in the basement. Upstairs is at 80F - phew. Energy wasting - yup and I don't care. So over the whole winter I will be TOASTY warm and perhaps I will manage to burn another ton of coal if I'm unlucky. So? another $200 wasted or so - having a blast and thinking of you guys. I wonder if I can melt the paint off the ceiling? :partyhat:
Posted by an unreasonable adult.

User avatar
bear creek burnout
Member
Posts: 245
Joined: Tue. Jul. 08, 2008 1:40 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503 Insert
Location: NEPA

Post Sat. Dec. 05, 2009 4:26 pm

I priced a system for my 4k+ sq ft home less than 2 years ago.....$48,000 without any problems or glitches....so probably $50k....and no guarantee that it would work perfectly so I still needed to keep a backup system.... :wtf:
Thank you....I'll keep my coal
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, "Wow, what a ride!!!"

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-Albert Einstein


coalnewbie
Member
Posts: 6195
Joined: Sat. May. 24, 2008 4:26 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL AnthraKing 180K, Pocono110K,KStokr 90K, DVC
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Invader 2
Baseburners & Antiques: Wings Best, Glenwood #8(x2) Herald 116x
Coal Size/Type: Rice,
Other Heating: Heating Oil CH, Toyotomi OM 22
Location: Chester, NY

Post Sat. Dec. 05, 2009 6:18 pm

Well Bear,

From your posts I had already decided you were a smart man - now I know it. After your 50 grand would come the glitches I promise. From a net energy perspective can anybody estimate the net energy involved in just making $250,000 of solar panels or digging 6x500' wells. I can abuse energy with my coal for the rest of my life trying to melt the paint off the ceiling and never spend as much as the interest payments on the loan......DUH. :partyhat:

PS I'm keeping a number really good AMERICAN guys employed - not a bunch of Chinamen making panels. You see it's not that I want to stay warm and comfortable at reasonable cost all winter - I'm only doing it to be patriotic. :)
Posted by an unreasonable adult.

coalnewbie
Member
Posts: 6195
Joined: Sat. May. 24, 2008 4:26 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL AnthraKing 180K, Pocono110K,KStokr 90K, DVC
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Invader 2
Baseburners & Antiques: Wings Best, Glenwood #8(x2) Herald 116x
Coal Size/Type: Rice,
Other Heating: Heating Oil CH, Toyotomi OM 22
Location: Chester, NY

Post Sat. Dec. 05, 2009 6:30 pm

So if a was completely stupid and picked very expensive solar, wind, geo or wood, the govt will pay half my bills. Had to add the Pocono this year out of my chewed out hide with no help - it's still a no brainer. :mad:
Posted by an unreasonable adult.

dll
Member
Posts: 151
Joined: Fri. Aug. 18, 2006 11:30 am

Post Sun. Dec. 06, 2009 11:01 am

I have just finished a preliminary analysis for a Geo installation located outside of Albany New York .

The original heating system was oil and the Geo installation cost was $38,600. The installation is now just over a year old and showed a first year savings over oil of $2,047, this is based on $3+ per gallon oil and $.108KWH electric rate.

This year his current oil price is $2.70 and his electric rate has jumped to $.12KWH. With these numbers I have projected that this years savings might be around $1,820.

Now a lot of people cannot dig up $30,000+ without some type of financing so lets look at the additional costs of this system using outside financing. Let's say that he borrowed $30,000 for 5 years at 6% (this is probably a little low). The system price would be increased by the interest cost of $7,580 for a total system price of $46,180. Now we subtract the first years savings of $2,047 and we get $44,130.

So at a savings of $1,820 per year we have a simple payback of approximately 24 years and that's saying that he can get away without any more electric rate increases which I figure is very unlikely.

coalnewbie
Member
Posts: 6195
Joined: Sat. May. 24, 2008 4:26 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL AnthraKing 180K, Pocono110K,KStokr 90K, DVC
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Invader 2
Baseburners & Antiques: Wings Best, Glenwood #8(x2) Herald 116x
Coal Size/Type: Rice,
Other Heating: Heating Oil CH, Toyotomi OM 22
Location: Chester, NY

Post Sun. Dec. 06, 2009 1:39 pm

Now dll stop being so optimistic :) -

An accountant would tell you you have to depreciate the asset so it's much worse than that. i.e assuming it's worn out after twenty years (a good bet) it's worth nothing at that point. Also, the simple fact is that in Albany where the ground water is 46F about 75-80% of the energy comes from electricity (it's just about all heating so please don't anybody tell me about air conditioning savings). So let's talk about cost of component failures. Motors failures, we know about those, but don't ignore SS components in 12ppm hard water etc.etc.etc. So its up more like $60,000. But let's not worry about that silly money stuff (Albany certainly doesn't), let's look at the percentage of time it's cooling over the time spent heating. If they are not about in balance the ground will freeze unless it's an Artesian system (which I doubt). When the ground freezes the system output dies. Of course then it's time to build another system twice the size. I am of course dismissing ground magma geothermals (in NY) or diverting hot air from the NY Senate twitterings... wait a minute here I have a solution. ;) . Of course, magma geothermals might be possible one day if a fault opens up. Oh wait a minute, there IS a fault line that is active every 100 years that is just South of Albany.... hmmm...... let me follow that to its epicenter...... hmmm.... I got it, that would be right under the Indian Point nuclear reactor (and you think I am joking). So by ignoring anthracite over the years, not only are we dramatically escalating costs we now risk Armageddon. :mad: Let's also gloss over the number of good extra people in NEPA that would be employed if we gradually expanded the anthracite industry as a coordinated plan.

So to conclude ... other than this board (of course) the whole place is filled with idiots it would appear (beam me up Scotty). :partyhat:

... and to think my wife calls me insensitive... hah.
Posted by an unreasonable adult.

ScottinPA
New Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon. Aug. 10, 2009 4:02 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: none(still building the house)
Location: Russell, PA

Post Wed. Dec. 16, 2009 11:36 am

To counter your points:
My system in NW PA for a 2200sq ft open floor plan house requires a 5T system per Manual J heat loss calcs. Turnkey cost = $24K. I'll get a 30% tax credit from it = $16.8K. Standard propane/natural gas system = approx $10-12K. Difference = $6.8K. Cost analysis based on current fuel prices figures an annual cost savings of $2200 but for arguements sake lets say its closer to $1500 per year. Payback on the difference is 4.5yrs. This is backed up by numerous quotes comparing apples to apples systems. Also, references I've spoken to all have experienced the calculated savings or more.

Inground components are backed by a 50yr warranty. Out of ground components (heat exchanger & blower) have a 10yr warranty. Fluid for heat transfer is a water/glycol-type solution in a closed loop. Better heat transfer than just water. Loops are below frost line - approx 6ft.

I will grant you that at the end of a long cold winter the system may not work as well but there and I'll need to use the resistance heating but that is all in the savings calcs.

I'm all for a nice wood or coal fire. Love to watch it on the cold winter day but for my day to day heating/cooling I feel geo is a pretty good option.

User avatar
BigBarney
Member
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed. Feb. 08, 2006 2:48 pm

Post Wed. Dec. 16, 2009 1:49 pm

"Inground components are backed by a 50yr warranty. Out of ground components (heat exchanger & blower) have a 10yr warranty. Fluid for heat transfer is a water/glycol-type solution in a closed loop. Better heat transfer than just water. Loops are below frost line - approx 6ft."

Water gylcol mixture is not as good for heat transfer as plain water.A 50% solution

needs ~20% more flow for the same heat tranfer as plain water @36*F,so the pump

has to run more often with increased flow.Some of these systems also freeze the

ground and stop working in the coldest weather when heat demand is great.

The one big variable is the electric costs to run the system when they increase the

payback period is lengthened.

With the current schedule of rate increases of 50% and more in the next several

years this system could be very expensive to operate.

BigBarney

ScottinPA
New Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon. Aug. 10, 2009 4:02 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: none(still building the house)
Location: Russell, PA

Post Wed. Dec. 16, 2009 8:36 pm

Its not exactly water/glycol, not sure what the other fluid is an don't have the info here.

I agree and stated that there will be times near the end of a hard winter that it'll need to use the resistance heating. Sizing to avoid this will sacrifice air quality when the demands are less.

Sure the cost of electric will go up but its still cheaper than other forms of heat for my application.


Post Reply

Return to “Wood, Pellets, Gas, Oil, Geothermal & Other Heating Types”