Blogs > Tom Miller > May 2010

Geothermal System is Installed.


Just a year after I started making my 50+ year-old home more energy efficient and sustainable, the biggest part of the project was completed. When I first started investigating my HVAC options I was focused on high efficiency furnaces (gas and heat pump varieties). But the more I investigated geothermal, the more intrigued I became.

I’ve known about geothermal systems for almost two decades…and that was a part of the problem. Because geothermal technology is different than what I had learned about years ago. The systems I was aware of back then actually pumped ground water, and either re-circulated it, or dumped it into a pond or stream.

My Climate Master system uses a ground loop system that circulates fluid in a closed system, only exchanging heat with the steady 52-55 degree temperature of the earth. Plus, it also provides heat for the hot water tank…a nice energy saving benefit.

Bu the biggest psychological obstacle to geothermal was that I was considering it for an old home on a small lot with plenty of trees and mature landscaping. Geothermal makes sense for new construction, but I was skeptical about the damage to the landscaping at our home.

Fortunately, Mike Duckworth with Aire Serv contractors in Indianapolis, is a very knowledgeable geothermal expert. Mike walked me through the whole process, did the heating and cooling loads, and helped calculate the return on investment. He also made sure that the drilling and ground loop installation would be minimally invasive. And really, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but I had to add about $1,000 to the budget to fix the landscaping.

The other person who played a huge role in getting the home to deliver on all fronts was Roger Clearman, president of Air & Energy Products in Kennesaw, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.

I think Roger knows more about how to make a home truly comfortable and livable – and energy efficient – than any person I’ve ever met. From Roger’s patient tutoring I learned the intricacies of indoor air quality, the effect of humidity levels on comfort, and the importance of introducing fresh outside air into the home the right way. Or, as Roger put it to me, after the installation was complete:

“So you have addressed the 4 critical areas for optimum indoor health and comfort.

1. Temperature control. A properly sized water-source heat pump allows for economical heating and cooling of the space.

2. High efficiency air filtration. This catches the airborne particulates that can irritate your respiratory system and helps maintain a clean and efficient heating and cooling system.

3. Humidity controls:
    • Humidifier. The Honeywell humidifier adds a little humidity in the winter months to keep the air from getting too dry.
    • Dehumidifier. The Whirlpool Whole House Dehumidifier is designed to keep the entire home in the target range even in the muggy summer months in Indiana. The Whirlpool unit also includes a HEPA air filter for both re-circulated air and fresh outside air.
4. Ventilation. Fresh outside air helps dilute stale indoor air, reduces bad air leaking in, and generally is a good idea when controlled at just the right rates.”

 
Thanks, Roger and Mike. It is amazing how much more comfortable the home feels. Plus, I feel like I have begun to understand the complexities of home heating and cooling, and why it is so important to the health of the home and its occupants.

      

Posted: 5/12/2010 12:03:52 PM by Tom Miller | with 0 comments



About Me

Tom Miller is not a building scientist, green guru or even a halfway decent DIYer. However, he is passionate about making a difference, ecologically speaking.

The purpose of Tom’s blog is to share experiences and observations from a homeowner’s perspective in the hopes that it will help building professionals spot unmet needs and dramatically increase the velocity of green building adoption across the country.

 

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