PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

PATH Case Study

Rising Fuel Costs Power Geothermal Heat Pumps


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[IMAGE: Residential GeoExchange Systems (Cooling Mode)]

"Switching from oil-based to electricity-based heating was simplified by the fact that the local electric cooperative already had her on an interruptible rate. Like most of the local co-ops, this coop had the right to interrupt the power supply for the home's electric heating, cooling, and hot water by radio signal during peak-load conditions to reduce peak demand. As compensation for this periodic inconvenience, the company cuts the price of electricity during peak periods to specific interruptible mechanicals in half."

"With a geothermal heat pump, the client can now take 75 percent of the energy from a free renewable in the earth. Therefore, 75 percent of the homeowner's energy is free, while the other 25 percent is at this reduced rate--roughly 4-cents-per kilowatt. While it doesn't happen everywhere, this isn't an unusual program among the Wisconsin coops."


[IMAGE: Residential GeoExchange Systems (Heating Mode)]

"If you have the space, horizontal loops are usually less expensive than vertical loops. The client was in an excellent location for horizontal loops--a low area that was just cropland. It was also adjacent to a low-lying wet area, and the pipes were laid in sand saturated with water. We dug a horizontal trench 12 feet wide, 8 feet deep, and 300 feet long. We put in 600 feet of 3/4 inch polyethylene pipe per ton for a four-ton system. We installed 2,400 feet of pipe and closed the trench back up in one day."

"The loop was almost half the total price tag, around $5,500 to $6,000. It's less expensive than a vertical loop and usually easier to schedule. A vertical loop is at least another couple thousand dollars, since we have to call in a driller. Drillers are very busy with the increasing demand due to high fuel costs. It seems like there are a few more companies getting into it, and I think in the next few years, demand is going to expand that market. However, if you have the right piece of property with adequate open space, you can usually do a horizontal loop and not require a driller."

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Content updated on 9/25/2006

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