Going geothermal – The decision

A rural area presents certain limitations when it comes to city services. Most likely, you don’t have natural gas available at the road. That means, when it comes to heating and air conditioning, you have a choice of oil or propane. However, large rural properties open up a third option: geothermal.

When we first saw the farm, we recognized quickly that the furnace was pretty old and would have to be replaced. During the home inspection, our suspicions were confirmed.

Furnace

One of our old furnaces. Notice all of the soot.

There were two oil furnaces in the house: one for the house itself and the other for the indoor pool area. The pool furnace didn’t seem to be working. The house furnace, in addition to being ancient (probably original to the house), had been modified and jury-rigged over time so that it actually wasn’t in that great of shape.

Air conditioner

The old air conditioner

The air conditioner also appeared to be original to the house (remember we’re talking 30-40 years old here), the hot water heater was also running on oil and the oil tank itself was 20 years old.

When we were talking options with our home inspector, we were focused on a new high efficiency oil or propane furnace. My brother who had tagged along during the inspection said, “Or you could do geothermal.”

We scoffed because the only thing we knew about geothermal was that it was expensive.

However, after talking things through, doing a little bit of research and starting to run the numbers, we decided very quickly to go geothermal.

Why we chose to go geo:

  1. Since we had to upgrade the furnace, air conditioner and oil tank, we’d have to put out a significant amount of money just for up front capital costs.
  2. Given that oil was our most likely option for our location, we’d have to continue to put out a significant amount of money for ongoing operating costs.
  3. We plan to be in this house for a long time (notice the “forever house” tagline above), so the geothermal would eventually pay for itself, and we’d actually be able to save money over the long term.
  4. Through the Government of Canada ecoEnergy program, we could get a rebate for installing a geothermal system.
  5. We had the space to do a horizontal loop, the least expensive layout for geothermal.
  6. It’s a green option that’s a lot more environmentally friendly than burning fossil fuels.

Click here if you’re interested in more on how geothermal works.

Once we made the decision to go geo, we had to find a contractor, which I’ll talk about in the next installment of “Going geothermal.”

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