Going geothermal – The verdict

This is the final post in “Going Geothermal.” I’m going to evaluate our experience thus far.

In the first post of this series, I mentioned that geothermal wasn’t even on our radar when we first thought about replacing our furnace. Now, two months after the geo was installed, we couldn’t imagine choosing any other system.

ClimateMaster heat pump

Our heat pump, complete with certification sticker from the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition

On our choice to go geothermal

Geothermal is expensive when it comes to the up front costs. We definitely paid a lot more than we would have if we had chosen to go with a traditional high-efficiency furnace, even taking into account a new air conditioner and hot water heater. Over the long term, however, we should actually save money. According to Matt’s calculations, with the savings we get from not having oil, we should be even after seven years. And after that we’ll be paying about one-third of what we would have been paying if we had an oil system.

Geothermal is a greener technology, which is important to me. I like knowing that I’ve made a responsible choice that is better for the planet than the other options that were available.

On the system

As I mentioned, our system consists of a 5 tonne ClimateMaster heat pump with a desuperheater and a 6 tonne horizontal loop. All of the elements of the system are working very well. The temperature in the house is very comfortable, and we have lots of hot water.

Early in the process of going geothermal, we were told that a geothermal system is most efficient if it can run 90% of the time. Ours definitely does not do this. It could be because it’s spring and temperatures are warmer. Or it could be because our system is slightly over-size for our house due to our plans for future expansion. I’m willing to sacrifice some efficiency to avoid upgrading the heat pump in the future when we put on our addition.

On the con side of things, I would say geothermal is slightly noisy. The heat pump itself is incredibly well-insulated, so you don’t hear the motor or other elements. However, a huge volume of air is being pushed through our ducts–more than if we had a regular furnace. As a result, I find I hear the air as it circulates, and I notice more when the system is running.

I’ve also noticed that the air seems to be dryer than it was at our old house with our gas furnace. I’m not sure whether that’s a factor of the house or of the geothermal.

On the contractor

Our geothermal contractor was Waterloo Energy Products. From the beginning with my initial phone call to their office, I was very impressed by their customer service. They answered every single one of my questions, even if they did tease me a bit about my questionnaire. From the office staff, Jim and Jason, to the on-site crew, Chris, Paul and Mike, they were all very professional, knowledgeable and helpful.

Documentation binder for our geothermal system

At the conclusion of the install, Waterloo Energy Products provided us with a binder with all of the information and documentation for our system, including site diagrams and warranties.

They are also personally very committed to geothermal and have geothermal in their own homes. Their office is an education in sustainable living, showcasing multiple renewable energy products all under one roof. If you’re at all interested in renewable energy–not just geothermal–I encourage you to visit their Sustainable Living Centre.

Still to come

The one part of our geothermal system that I haven’t evaluated yet is the air conditioning. As it’s still spring, we haven’t used it yet. However, I promise to post an update once we do. I’m sure Matt will put it to the test this summer. After five years without a/c, this is one feature of the farm that he’s very excited about.

Update: The air conditioning evaluation is now available.

For now, this concludes the “Going Geothermal” series. We’re very pleased with our decision to go with geothermal, our system and our experience with Waterloo Energy Products. I hope that this series gives you some insight into our experiences and helps those that are interested in going geothermal themselves.

If you have any questions, leave a comment. I’m happy to share more about our experience “going geothermal.”

For previous posts in the Going Geothermal series, click on one of the links below:

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