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...ALL-ELECTRIC-Life - Part VI – And the Winner Is??? Geothermal…Find Out Why

By Allen Hibner: In the February, 2021 “…ALL-ELECTRIC-Life – Part V – Hello Geo(thermal), How Ya Doin? ” blog article that I wrote (click here to read that article) describing the benefits of geothermal or ground source heat pumps, I stated that I would be announcing our decision as to what new HVAC heat pump system, air-source or ground-source, we would be installing in our home in the coming months.

Decision made.

Deposit paid.

Ground source loop

about to be laid.

Geothermal will serve us well

for many years in such good staid.

So, what was that rule again that we’ve been following so carefully throughout this …ALL-ELECTRIC-Life Blog Series?

Why? Why did we choose a geothermal ground-source heat pump system over an air-source heat pump system?

Let me count the ways:

  • Superior efficiency – In winter, air source heat pumps must extract heat in, for example, 20-degree Fahrenheit (or even lower recently) outside air temperatures and raise the temperature of that air to 70 degrees for inside comfort. A 50-degree delta. Ground source heat pumps extract heat from 50-degree Fahrenheit liquid to start with and raise it to 70 degrees. Only a 20-degree delta. It doesn’t take much to understand just how much more efficient that is – nominally, twice as efficient as air-source heat pumps. In the summer, with frequent 85-90 degree outside air temperature days, this equation is simply reversed. Pretty easy to imagine how much less work it is for a compressor to extract and expel inside waste heat into 50-degree liquid versus 90 degree outside air. Geothermal systems just use a whole lot LESS electricity to run them, saving money over time.

  • Longer lifetime of service – With a geothermal system, there simply is NO outside equipment exposed to wind, water, snow, ice, sun or human elements. All equipment is safe, several to hundreds of feet below ground. The compressor that extracts heat does not need to work as hard as the compressor in an air-source heat pump, also prolonging the equipment life.

  • Follow the money – Right now, at least in 2021, the financial incentives to install this type of system are huge. Our family will enjoy a close to $10,000 tax credit from the system we are purchasing. In addition, the vendor doing the install will receive a $7,000+ NYS Clean-Heat Rebate from the state. That rebate is being used by them to reduce the cost of the system to our family. Around $17,000 OFF of the price of a geothermal system? What’s not to like? Rebates and tax credits for air-source heat pumps don’t come close to these amounts.

  • Co-generation of heat for our hot water supply – The geothermal system we are purchasing has a system option called a, “desuperheater.” Waste heat from the compressor unit inside the WaterFurnace is captured and used to pre-heat and store water coming in from the street BEFORE it passes into the hybrid electric heat pump hot water heater – saving lots of electricity. The hot water system includes a passive, “geo-tank” to hold the pre-heated water. Again, a lifetime of efficiency and savings for our home’s hot water supply needs.

  • Buy Once, Cry Once – My wife and I are both in our 70’s and plan on aging-in-place for the remainder of our lives in our Penfield home of 35 years. We are not choosing to invest in a new boat that is used for only a few days each year or in a vacation home or condo used for only a few weeks yearly. Instead, we are doing something much more practical. We have chosen to invest in an HVAC system that we will use and enjoy each and every day of the year. This is a system that honors a more sustainable earth and lifestyle. It’s source to heat and cool our home comes directly from the earth and will not run out. It’s green. It’s infinitely renewable. We can heat and cool our home for years to come with much less concern about what we are personally doing to our environment. As prices for natural gas and indeed all fossil fuels rise inexorably each year to account for the externalities and costs of the greenhouse gases and pollution that burning fossil fuels creates, my wife and I will be completely insulated from those carbon pricing increases. Our geothermal system will be powered by 100% green, renewable electricity flowing into our home. This is the future, an “…ALL ELECTRIC” future, and my wife and I are already living in it. We can see what’s coming; indeed, what must come to insure a better life ahead for our children and grandchildren. Can you see it? Come and join us if you will.

So, there you have it. That’s the “WHY” we did it and what entered into our decision-making process. Pretty compelling isn’t it? Comfort, cost savings over time, long system life, sustainability and massive decarbonization of our home’s energy usage. Awesome! Once installed, the only gas appliance we will have left in our home is our gas dryer. I’ll be targeting gas appliance replacements in future blog articles in this ...ALL-ELECTRIC-Life series. Once this system is installed, the only thing we will be waiting for is 100% clean, renewable electricity to run it going forward that is supplied by our (hopefully soon to be implemented) Penfield Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program. Learn more about CCA here by clicking on this link. Or, visit the Penfield CCA Facebook page here.

Next, we thought you all might like to see some pictures of the exact equipment that will be installed in our home in early spring of 2021. The installing contractor will be drilling (4) 150’ vertical wells in our backyard for the ground loop and then tying all of these wells together in horizontal trenches dug below the frost line. That ground loop then enters our home’s lower level to connect with the WaterFurnace unit pictured below. Full Wi-Fi and internet-based control and monitoring of this system will be at my fingertips on my iPhone and computer. Can’t wait!

Now that you have learned which system we selected to be installed in our home in the coming months, and why we made that decision, I will continue my ...ALL-ELECTRIC-Life blog series going forward with several articles on our day-to-day experience having the system installed and living with it over time. Look for loads and loads of pictures and videos documenting this experience.

As always, thank you so much for your continued interest in these blog articles. I hope that what you are learning from them is in some small measure helping you to decide if your family will be going “ALL-ELECTRIC” too for your home’s heating, cooling and hot water needs.

Where can you obtain even more local assistance to explore geothermal or ground-source heat pumps? We have a phenomenal resource right here in the Rochester regional area. I strongly encourage you to visit HeatSMART Monroe of the Finger Lakes to learn more.

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