Myth Number One: Geo Only Works in New Homes
This is an older home that we installed two geothermal heat pumps into about 2 1/2 years ago. It has a four ton unit for the main floor and a two ton split unit for the second. The install was challenging, but we’re always up for a challenge.
I’ve often heard geothermal doesn’t work in older homes. This is simply untrue. New homes can have the best energy conservation practices incorporated into the building process while existing homes have a much more limited set a measures available to them. Upgrading windows, adding insulation to the walls or getting the shell of the house to the tightness achievable in new construction is either expensive or impossible. These factors make the heating and cooling requirements for existing homes higher than new ones. Since geothermal saves a percentage of a homes fuel consumption, the higher consumption of an existing home INCREASES the potential savings of a geothermal unit. Saving half of not much is not much. Saving half of a lot is a lot! Since other conservation strategies are limited with existing homes, conversion to geothermal becomes an even better option.
Installation of a geothermal unit in existing homes is more difficult than in new homes. The duct installation in new construction starts as soon as the shell is weather tight and before the plumber and electrician get on the job. This means there’s not much in the way and the duct installer has a clear shot. All penetrations are cut through the sub-flooring. In existing homes, anything can be in the way, and holes have to be carefully located since the holes are through finish floors. No room for mistakes. Homes with existing duct work require a careful analysis as to its suitability for the new system. From a design viewpoint, heat loss calculations need to be carefully done. Duct systems in existing homes often require more bends and turns to snake around things, and these pose resistance to air flow that has to be accounted for. The exterior work is now going to occur in the owners yard, not a bare job site. Electrical supply also has to be considered.
Our team of designers and installers are well versed at successfully converting existing homes to geothermal. We have hundreds of conversions under our belt. Each one has something different about it but our experience enables us to know what to look for, what to expect and the best ways to deal with it. We also pride ourselves in treating a retrofit project as someone’s home, not a job site. We go to great lengths to respect the fact that our customers are living there and we keep the disruption to their lives to the minimum.
In an Owner’s Own Words
The above pictured house is a typical example of a retrofit. This one required a complete duct installation with the geothermal conversion. I think it best to let the homeowner discuss the results. The following are excerpts from a recent correspondence I had with Joe. He understands. He titled his e-mails to me “this leaky old house”. I think he says it best!
”Retro Fits….a no brainer.
When Robin and I were deciding on Geothermal or just to put in new duct work and an oil furnace, we calculated the additional costs for the geothermal to be around $27.000. The total job cost for us was about $47,000. After seeing the tax credit benefits of 30%, plus rebates, property taxes do not go up,…..the real additional cost to install the geothermal was only $12,000.
Well we are still amazed at the amount of money we are saving per year with your system. With the tax credits, the rebate from CL&P, the savings of not buying $7200.00 per year in fuel oil; the additional money we paid to switch over to Geothermal we have recouped this year. We see approximately a $300 per month increase in our electric bill in the coldest months of the winter. This additional expense is minor in comparison to burning 500 plus gallons of fuel oil per month during the same periods and keeping the temperature at 65 degrees or lower. We stay at 70-72 degrees all winter, 65 degrees at night. The electric bills in the summer are lower and not having the 6 window air conditioners is great. So we really recouped all of our investment in just over two years…..not five. We would have been happy to recoup the investment in 10 years.
We replace the air filters on a regular schedule and check/clean the condensation pump line. I don’t think anyone in an old home could resist, even if you have to take out a loan. Plus working with your company is great…geothermal is the logical and only choice.”