This week, our geothermal team member and operations coordinator, Zack Parker, has taken over the blog to explain what he thinks are the main reasons more people have not yet installed geothermal heat pumps...
When we sit down and talk to our customers, or give a presentation on what geothermal heating and cooling is, this is one of the most common questions we encounter: Why don't more people go geothermal?
The average person usually does not even know what Geothermal energy is let alone understands the value proposition of a $30,000 Geothermal heating and cooling system involving multiple tax rebates/credits. These are the 2 major hurdles in the way of an average homeowner purchasing a socially/environmentally progressive Geothermal heatpump instead of replacing with yet another fossil fuel burning traditional furnace they are more familiar with.
Hurdle 1: Geothermal is not widely known or understood
As a geothermal sales representative I spend a lot of my time educating potential customer on the basic principals behind ground source heat pumps and how geothermal systems work. I am constantly amazed at how little the majority of people are aware of geothermal and the multitude of associated misconceptions. Even homeowners who have taken the time to reach out to a Geothermal installer and ask for a quote sometimes do not even know what they are buying. Some just know “My neighbors got one and they say it works great!”. In this case it is not just my job to convince these folks purchasing a geothermal system is a good investment but also make sure they know what they are buying, how it works, how it saves you money on utilities and the positive environmental impacts compared to traditional heating and cooling systems. The reality is that homeowners with geothermal systems are the best advocates for convincing others to make the same transition. It is essential that the general public start to understand how Geothermal energy works so we can start to transform the overall public perception of this technology and make it more universally accepted as the normal. Lack of knowledge creates skepticism, doubt and incorrect information to be spread regarding the geothermal industry in general. This lack of knowledge can be combated with responsible sales efforts from geothermal installers to make sure the public perception and understanding of geothermal heating and cooling is positive and digestible by your average homeowner. This is achieved by focusing on educating our customers to become Geothermal advocates instead of rushing through the sales process with only one goal in mind…..the signature.
Hurdle 2: Understanding the Value
In order to understand the real-world value of your Geothermal system you first need to understand how much your system actually costs. Sounds easy right? Residential geothermal heatpump installations are eligible for a 26% federal tax credit and a $1500/ton NYSERDA rebate. The NYSERDA rebate is paid to the installer upfront and typically is around $7,000-$8,000 (depending on system size, etc.). The federal tax credit is a real credit and not a deduction. This money is received as part of your income tax return check that you normally receive. The total cost after receiving these incentives is a homeowners “out of pocket” cost and the value that should be used to calculate a “payback period” on your investment.
With necessary utilities, like heating, you really need to know what you are “comparing to” in order to calculate a relevant “payback period”. For example, if you live somewhere with access to natural gas, you will have a longer payback period than somebody who lives in a rural location where natural gas is not available and therefore would need to heat with propane or fuel oil. Propane and fuel oil are more expensive than natural gas, thus producing a shorter payback on a geothermal investment as the utility savings add up quicker. A geothermal customer who normally spends $4,000 on propane annually will see faster savings than someone who normally spends $2,000 annually on natural gas. The most accurate and real world way in my opinion to calculate a geothermal system payback period is to take what your annual heating fuel cost from your previous system and subtract the amount of electricity that your geothermal system will use to come up with annual savings. At that point you can divide the “out of pocket” cost of your Geo system by the annual savings to come up with a payback value in number of years. This can be a bit misleading and not a “apples to apples” comparison for some people because Geothermal heatpumps also do your central air cooling and not just heating. So you need to either include prior A/C energy usage into your heating fuel expense total or decrease the estimated amount of electricity your heatpump will use to represent just heating and no cooling season. On Average, for a 2000 sq ft home with a forced air geothermal system, it costs between $600 and $1,000 for heating and cooling annually. Another aspect to complicate things is that your geothermal system will produce domestic hot water which is not factored into this basic calculation (More savings). Usually homeowners converting form propane see a payback period of 5-7 years where natural gas converts payback is 8-10 years.
After understanding the basic payback period and financial breakdown, it is time to consider all of the other less-obvious benefits and added value to homeowners...
Geothermal heatpumps run on electricity and is a huge step in getting your house free from dependence on volatile fossil fuels. Electricity is a much more sustainable and predictable form of energy than and eliminates the risk of inevitably rising fuel prices in the future.
Heating with electricity also means no combustion and therefore no venting required of the equipment. This reduces your risk of carbon monoxide in your home and can lower your homeowners insurance compared to traditional fuel source heating.
Another obvious benefit is the environmental and social responsibility of choosing an alternative energy source for your home. This can get lost in the shuffle when you start diving into all the numbers but the bottom line is that doing the “right thing” will have countless positive ramifications on the future of our planet and the attitudes of the next generation.
Recovery the heat from your drain water in Rochester, NY and Finger Lakes
Drain Water Heat Recovery is the science of recovering wasted thermal energy going down the drain and using it to pre-heat incoming fresh cold water. One of the most substantial utility costs in all areas of life is water heating.DWHR systems can passively recover a significant portion of that wasted energy and provide operational cost savings, prolong the life of heating appliances, and extend the run-time of hot water usage.
How does Drain Water Heat Recovery Work?
ACES-Energy has several ways to install your Drain Water Heat Recovery unit
The heat exchanger becomes part of your drainage stack, usually in your basement, by replacing a vertical section of the drain line. The coils become part of your fresh water supply line by diverting it through them. It can be installed with any combination of drainage pipe and fresh water piping (ie. ABS, PVC, cast iron, copper, PEX, etc). Only 4 plumbing connections are needed -- 2 for the coil and 2 for the drain (using no-hub connectors).
Units can be installed on the second floor, first floor, crawl space and basement – virtually anywhere there is access to a sufficiently tall section of VERTICAL waste pipe having waste hot water flowing through it, along with access to a cold water supply line. The heat exchanger may be installed in more than one location, as on-site conditions may allow. For best results, install as close to the exit of the main drain line as possible.
For maximum savings, use the Equal Flow configuration - plumb the pre-heated water from the unit to both the water heater and the cold line, feeding all plumbing fixtures. Preheating the cold water to fixtures like a shower significantly reduces the amount of hot water needed. This also creates an equal flow where the total preheated water being used is equal to the total water going down the drain.
ACES-Energy has purchased the Western, NY dealership for the Swing Green product line. Please contact us for more information and a quote to install one on your next project! In addition, ACES-Energy offers a complete line of Geothermal Heating & Cooling and Solar PV products and installation services for the Rochester, New York and Finger Lakes area including, but not limited to Webster, Victor, Bloomfield, Pittsford, Lima, Bristol, South Bristol, Dansville, Geneseo, Batavia, Bath, Ithaca, Canandaigua, Honeoye, Honeoye Falls, and Mendon area...
ACES-Energy has purchased a building in the great village of Honeoye Falls (Mendon), NY. We plan to be a leader in the industry and offer a location where our potential customers can come and meet with our staff. This building will be an educational center with live demonstrations of our products, including but not limited to geothermal heating and cooling, solar electric and solar hot water.
"We want to offer a unique educational experience with working equipment exactly how it would be installed in our customers homes. By investing in infrastructure and a showroom like this, we want to show our customers that renewable energy and ACES is here to stay! In addition, we have expanded to offer many additional residential and light commercial services in the the Honeoye Falls, Mendon, Victor, Lima and 45 minute surrounding area" said ACES-Energy President AJ Heiligman.
In other exciting news, we have partnered with SunnKing and will offer electronic recycling on site. You can simply bring your old electronics and we will recycle them for you!
The address is 7288 Rush Lima Road, Honeoye Falls, NY 14472
In addition, we are now offering several other services such as:
On-Demand hot water systems
Traditional hot water tanks
Electric car charging
Off-grid charging stations and mobile trailers
Emergency sump pump back-up systems
Light excavation including irrigation, electrical, water lines, etc.
Spray foam insulation
Swing-Green heat recovery systems
As always, our senior service technician is looking for the most complex systems to troubleshoot and maintain.
The building season is soon upon us, be sure to get your plans to us to plan geothermal hvac in your new home!
We will be on site working on the facility in the coming weeks and expect to announce a formal opening soon. In the meantime, we will still be happy to meet customers at their home or in the new showroom by appointment only.
Andrew (A.J.) Heiligman, President of ACES-Energy, who is responsible for day to day sales and operations of the business has been asked to speak at an Upstate, NY Geothermal conference. A.J. will be presenting geothermal best practices and techniques that has turned ACES into a leading geothermal contractor. Also, he has been asked to highlight his success with several unique design approaches and online remote monitoring of selected projects. The conference will be held February 20 and 21. We will post photos and presentation data is the coming months.
Updated 3-13-13 with a photo of folks who attended the seminar!
_ Over the years, we are consistently involved with different aspects of geothermal heating and cooling installations. As a proponent of the Geothermal industry in the Buffalo, Rochester and Finger Lakes regions of Upstate NY we are always doing leg work to promote the technology. We commonly assist architects, engineers, builders, homeowners and students to understand Ground Source Heat Pumps.
Geothermal HVAC is not new to the area, we service systems that were installed 25+ years ago, that utilize the same refrigeration process and possess the same components that are still used today! In 2011, we replaced or upgraded several units that were installed in the early 1980’s as a preventative maintenance measure for customers who wanted increased performance from dual stage compressors and variable speed fans.
Having several engineers on staff who share a passion for renewable energy, we are always eager to push the design envelope. We are always looking for the next difficult and complex project that we can associate our name with. No job is too small and we can assist in any task from design, consultation and feasibility studies to installation, commissioning and monitoring for ideal system performance.
Please do not hesitate to contact an ACES-Energy representative to discuss your next project today!