Geothermal Heat

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Geothermal Heat
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Chad Johnson
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October 24, 2008 - 8:48 am
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So...I've been looking into Geothermal Heat. It looks promising and sounds impressive, but the huge upstart cost is a bit frightening.

anyone have any experience with it?

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Jim Hillier
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October 24, 2008 - 6:01 pm
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Hey Zig - You really no how to further a bloke's education....pique his curiosity. I must admit I'd never heard of geothermal heat until I read your post, a quick Google and I'm up to speed...well sort of.
Can't help you with anything useful, sorry. The big push here has always been for 'solar' which also attracts quite a large setup cost, because of the 'green' element our Government now offers subsidies for new installations. Some industrious sole with nothing better to do once calculated that it would take an average 25 to 30 years before the initial setup costs were defrayed....so, apart from the obvious environmental benefits, it is an option better suited for young people.
Is your Government (local or otherwise) offering any inducements or subsidies?

cheers mate.....JIM

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David Hartsock
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October 25, 2008 - 10:29 pm
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All I know is there is an initial outlay to build the water circulation infrastructure and an auxiliary heat source (gas or electric) may be needed depending on the climate. It is pretty neat, especially from an environmental standpoint.

Slightly related - I've thought it would be neat if every house in our housing addition had a small windmill mounted on the roof. As a group we could make a decent dent in our electrical usage and maybe generate enough to sell a small portion back to the electric company.

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Chad Johnson
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October 26, 2008 - 1:02 pm
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I don't think the Indiana legislature has deemed it necessary to grant tax breaks for "green" initiatives. California is full of stuff like that though.

As far as windmills...we have too many trees in our neighborhood Dave, wouldn't get much of a breeze through the "forest" LoL

plus, if one blew over, that would suck.

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David Hartsock
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October 29, 2008 - 7:37 pm
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Zig,

Is this something you were actually considering, or were you just feeling the waters. If you were actually looking into it I would be interested in what you've found out.

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Chad Johnson
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October 29, 2008 - 8:51 pm
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Well, I was feeling the waters, but here's what I found out:

Geothermal heat uses a heat pump to transfer heat from the house to the ground (for cooling) or from the ground to the house (for heating).

The systems, around here at least, run about 5,000 dollars with installation, but do not include the digging and drilling that have to be done in order to get the system up and running. The digging/drilling is probably another 5-10,000 depending on angles, and how much space you have available (horizontal is easier than vertical, for example).

Once installed, the cost to run is essentially the electricity to run the heat pump. I don't know if it requires changes to duct work or not, I haven't gotten that far in my research.

Once the temperature (outside) drops down to 20 degrees or so the system switches over to electric heat to make up the difference as the underground earth cools too much. This can vary depending on location.

In the summer, the heat that is pulled from the house can be used to heat water (in the water heater). In the winter, a regular water heater is used.

That's pretty much all I know. I don't know anyone using the system, but it's a bit out of my price range at the moment. However, breaking away from the gas company would be nice, so it's something I'm saving up for.

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David Hartsock
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October 30, 2008 - 2:27 am
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That's very interesting. I've been looking at those tankless whole house water heaters. They are about 2 to 3 times the price of a regular waterheater, but the heat is instant and requires no tank, which means a big savings.

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Chad Johnson
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October 30, 2008 - 9:01 am
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Yah, I've been looking into those as well. Do you know much about them?

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David Hartsock
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October 30, 2008 - 10:13 am
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Well, it's instant heat. No tank to keep warm all the time. They run about $700 to $1000, but when you consider how often you actually use hot water the savings add up quickly.

There are also smaller "point of use" heaters that you can install at each location. They run about $150 to $200. The only issue is you need electrical power at the mounting location.

Benefits:
1. Not constantly heating water you aren't using.
2. Unlimited hot water - they heat instantly and can heat as long as the water is needed. No cold showers.
3. No maintenance. There is no tank to maintain, no lime buildup, etc.

The spousal unit and I have discussed it. When your current water heater going to the big scrap heap in the sky I think we'll get one.

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Jim Hillier
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October 30, 2008 - 3:48 pm
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Hey Guys - Instantaneous water heating systems are quite popular here, my son has one in his new house which is fueled by LP gas. Dave, the point you make about only heating water as you need it is a very valid one and is a cheaper system than storage, which is heating around the clock. However, instantaneous is quite a bit more expensive when actually running the heating process so, overall, I don't reckon there would be much in it....probably just favour instantaneous but not much in it. There can be maintenance costs too as the system relies on 'candles' and they can need replacing from time to time, they are generally long lasting however. That said, I had instantaneous mains electric heating in a house we occupied for 15 years and it would be by definite first choice.

cheers....JIM

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Chad Johnson
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October 30, 2008 - 7:58 pm
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I'd be curious to know what the savings are on instant heat versus storage. I suppose it depends on how often the hot water gets used.

So many options, so many choices.

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David Hartsock
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October 30, 2008 - 8:13 pm
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Zig,

Here's a [url=http://toolbase.org/pdf/techinv/tanklesswaterheaters_techspec.pdf:mnlg22xn]pdf[/url:mnlg22xn] with a decent comparison

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Jim Hillier
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October 31, 2008 - 12:27 am
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[i:34ktxjcs]"I suppose it depends on how often the hot water gets used."
[/i:34ktxjcs]
Zig - Absolutely, there are many variables. Here, there are 2 cheaper pricing systems for storage; off peak and off peak 2. Both are substantially cheaper than 'normal' rates which would generally apply to any electric instantaneous system. Also, storage would generally be cheaper for a large family...but, on the other hand, a large family would be more likely to run out of hot water using storage...something which cannot happen with instantaneous........there is a lot to ponder!

Dave - In future, could you please supply 'active' links for those of us who are far too lazy to copy and paste.

cheers...JIM

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David Hartsock
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October 31, 2008 - 12:48 am
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Sorry Jim. I fixed it!

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Chad Johnson
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October 31, 2008 - 9:38 am
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wow.

information overload.

Thanks!

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