Geothermal heating and air conditioning

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Blog entry by richgreer posted 02-22-2010 05:24 PM 1509 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know this is not wood related but I am always impressed with the way people on this forum willingly share their knowledge.

I went to a home show over the weekend and I was really impressed by what I heard about geothermal heating and air conditioning. I own enough land that I could install a horizontal system which is much cheaper than the vertical systems one installs if space is limited. The tax credits (30%) are significant as is a rebate from my electric company ($1400). Furthermore, my electric company sets up a separate meter for the heat pump and I pay at about half of their normal rate for energy used to run the heat pump. It seems quite clear that this is an investment that pays for itself fairly quickly.

What I don’t know is how good geothermal systems work and how dependable they are. Does anyone have experience with geothermal? I live in Iowa where we get both cold winters (especially this year) and hot summers. I am told that I need a 4 ton system for my house.

Thanks in advance for any insight offered.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

5 comments so far

View TroutStalker's profile


30 posts in 3337 days

#1 posted 02-22-2010 06:50 PM

I have geothermal heat in my home but ours is different. I live in a section of Boise, ID, known as the Warm Srpings area, that is near some hot springs. Sometime around 1900 the springs were tapped and the water was piped into the city. From this system we get 160F water delivered to our house. The wayter runs through a coil and a fan blows air across the coil and we have forced air heat in the house. Last summer I tapped into the system and ran pipes out to my shop and my wife’s art studio. We both have radiators that keep us toasty warm in the winter.

We are very happy with our system. We don’t worry about the price of natural gas anymore. We also get to feel good about living green.

-- The best thing online is a fish

View khop's profile


134 posts in 3645 days

#2 posted 02-22-2010 09:20 PM

Rich, Where I work one of our buildings has GT systems. We have 22 units running on 33 vertical wells. It has a centeral pumping station which provides glychol fluid to each. The units are better in the summer. They are just like all other a/c units accept using fluid instead of air to cool the refigerant. The winter is different though. The units can only produce heat efficiently when the outside temperature is above 15 degrees F. Below that, we have electric Preheaters (warm the outside makeup air) and Reheaters which add more heat for dicharge air. They are more effficient than fossil fuel, but you might want to have some sort of backup heat just in case. By the way, this is in central Illinois. Good Luck

-- How am I doing? Better than I deserve. Dave Ramsey

View ChickenChicken's profile


4 posts in 2984 days

#3 posted 02-23-2010 12:01 AM


I live here in Nebraska. We just (in November) installed a 4-ton vertical geothermal system to heat and cool our house, built in 1920. It has performed very well, even in this darn cold and snowy winter.

Our situation was that our natural gas furnace and air conditioner were both close to 30 years old. We had to replace them, either in a planned fashion or perhaps on a spur-of-the-moment fashion in the middle of the winter. We went the planned route.

We found, when comparing costs, that the geo system was comparable to other highly-effecient conventional systems. There is a 30% federal credit (no limit), in addition to credits and preferable rates from local utility companies, and rebates from equipment manufacterers. Our utility rates are already lower (the house is now all electric… no more natural gas), but I am really looking forward to savings in the summer time.

There is a nice feature called a desuperheater that comes standard on most ground-source geothermal heat pumps. It uses the geothermal unit to help heat your hot water. This is a particularly effecient feature in the summer time—-the heat from your house gets pumped into the water heater—-tho it does also work to some degree in the winter.

Over all, this has been a good move and a good investment. I understand that geothermal heat pumps have a good track record in terms of durability and longevity.

Check out the Geoexchange.

Good Luck! I woudl encourage you to explore this option.

View ClayandNancy's profile


519 posts in 2984 days

#4 posted 02-23-2010 01:02 AM

I have GT in our home and we are extremely happy, electrical costs are low and the performance is great. We have six wells drilled for the unit. No maintenance with closed system, only the air filters. My shop is part of the garage that is not heated so I am going to see if I can tap off unit to heat the shop.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3043 days

#5 posted 02-23-2010 01:17 AM

This is quite incredible. I’ve received two responses to this post by new LJ members who had been members for less than an hour when they responded. Thanks to all for the excellent insight and advice you have provided.

It seems to me that if ChickenChicken and ClayandNancy are happy after putting in a vertical system I should be even happier since I have the room to put in the cheaper horizontal system. Time to call the contractor to get a hard line quote.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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