03:23AM | 08/28/02
Member Since: 07/21/02
48 lifetime posts
It appears that HKestenholz does not have any experience with geothermal based on what he is saying so I will disagree with him. We had a 3 ton Water Furnace unit with ground loop in our prior house and would highly, highly recommend it. You will be amazed at how cheap it is to run. In A/C mode it is almost free (not quite, but close) and makes gobs of domestic hot water.

As far as repairs, the loop is just a plumbing job (you can handle it yourself), pumps and pipes and a little wiring. The unit itself is just like an air-to-air heat pump but in one compact unit that uses the ground water in the loop instead of a fan and air. Should not be any problem for a qualified HVAC repair person. This is not just me talking, my brother is an HVAC contractor in Florida that does all types of heating/cooling units. He says he can handle any geothermal unit made (although he deals for Water Furnace also) Don't be scared off by a purported lack of repair folks, that just isn't true.

The equipment is expensive, but it's clean and quiet. If you can afford it I think you would be very happy in the long term. We sure miss it (bought an existing house with oil-fired hot water heat).

Bill in Ohio


05:03AM | 09/03/02
Member Since: 12/19/01
29 lifetime posts
My in-laws, also from Ohio, are very pleased with their waterfurnace as well. The house was built 6 years ago with a climatemaster system put in by a moron who not only got his HVAC license but managed to be the preferred installer for geo systems by the power company. Now he may be capable of putting a geo in a 1500sq ranch, but he basically had no clue how to do a zoned system in a 4000sq ft 2-story. After three years of $600 electric bills, one lawsuit that basically put the installer into bankruptcy (no $$ for my in-laws), and an uncomfortable/noisey home, they had the waterfurnance installed by one of the three other service providers now in the area. Their electric bills are now between $150-$250 year round. I live about 4 miles away and my home is half as large with half as many people living in it and I spend about the same on gas/electric as they do. My electric is about $100-$120 during summer with central air and $80 during winter. Propane runs me about $1200 for the winter. We both have gas dryers and dual-fuel ranges. It seems maybe a larger home would have better use of a geo system, as it doesn't take much to heat/cool a small house anyway. Before my current home I had a small ranch and it was very cheap to heat/cool.


08:20AM | 09/03/02
Member Since: 12/19/01
29 lifetime posts
I don't know, $150-$250 seems pretty reasonable for electric, heating, and cooling for such a large home with three teens, two adults, and horse stables/riding arena. They paid about $7000 more than the forced air system and $3500 more than a hot-water system with forced a/c. Plus $1000 power company rebate made the deal $6000 more than the cheapest system. Assuming they wouldn't have gotten screwed, it wouldn't be hard to save $100/month over five years. Even in the fall when they aren't running AC or Heat their electric is close to $150. So at the most it costs them $100/month to heat the place which is half what I spend on propane during the winter months. The new system is quite impressive. Never hear any air or dampers moving, and can barely tell the system is even running when you're in the basement.

I really can't see putting a system like this in a small home. Again, my first home cost me barely anything to heat/cool so there's only so much room for savings. You still have to dig lines regardless of the size so that's a pretty substantial cost.


05:45PM | 09/03/02
Member Since: 12/19/01
29 lifetime posts
Well maybe it's just a regional thing. My 2800sq ft office (old restored victorian) runs me over $150 a month for natural gas, and that's with a programmed thermostat and 92% furnace. During the summer the electric bill closes in on an extra $80 for cooling. Still a substantially smaller structure. Just can't see where they could have heated with propane/electric and spent the same money. Natural gas is only available in the towns here, nothing for us country folk (even though a major transmssion line runs right through our properties, can you say "hot-tap"?). I honestly don't know anyone that still has strip heat or a heat pump around here anymore so I can't compare.

BTW, how much savings would there be to switching from a 60% efficient propane burning hot-water system to a new (whatever they are now) burner? My parents have this system which was installed when they built the house (early 80's?) and have been thinking about upgrading.

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