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DH wants to have a geo-thermal system installed. They are incredibly expensive. I am hesitant to say the least. Will this add value to the house if we should ever sell it. I would think it would but nobody seems to know since not many ppl in this area have them. Anybody know anything about this subject or know where I could find info. TIA
 

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agmantoo
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An astute buyer would pay more as he would have significant savings on his utility bill that could be applied to the mortgage. My geothermal unit has been installed for approximately 15 years and my annual savings is estimated by me to be not less than $1800 per year or $27,000 since installation. The cost of the unit installed was less than $4000 thus resulting in $23000 savings thus far. The home is total electric, no gas or fuel oil and we condition the home year around. Should you install a geothermal unit I would like to caution you not to install a unit that is too large. It is the tendency of the contractor to go with overkill and the benefits of the utility savings will suffer.
 

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I wouldn't expect much benefit on resale value. Resale value is all about how your house compares to other houses in the area. If it has an unusual heating system, even if it's an expensive, efficient system, people are going to be leery about buying it. If you plan for this to be your home for the next 20 year, then I'd consider it... but not if you're selling anytime soon.

You said not many people in the area have them... maybe there is a reason for this? Also consider if there are going to be people available to service the system, other than the company installing it. In my area of the country the norm is forced air furnace with natural gas, oil or maybe propane for fuel, usually central air as well. If my furnace dies on christmas eve I can pick up the phone and find someone who will come out right now. If I had a geothermal heatpump, I'd have a heck of a time finding a service company, and if I did they are probably going to be a specialty company charging higher rates.
 

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I think the right buyer might feel that the system adds value. However, you may be hard-pressed to find that buyer. If you are seriously considering selling in the next few years, I'm not sure an unusual heating system (even though they are great) is the best thing to spend money on. Ask realtors in the area for their opinion, but my guess is that 95% of buyers would just nod their head at the mention of geo-thermal and wonder why your house is priced higher then similar comps in the area with electric heat. The real estate market is pretty unstable these days. So I wouldn't count on getting that money back in this buyers' market.

On the other hand, with energy prices continuing to go up, an alternative energy system makes a lot of sense if you're staying there for the long-term.
 

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I love South Dakota
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Are you talking a true geothermal unit, or a heat pump type. I looked into a heat pump, would cost about $5,000 and would hook into existing duct work. Only problem is I have electric baseboard heat - no ducktwork and no basement/crawlspace to install it. We decided not to go that route, even though we have been ripping up floors. Heat pumps are used a lot in this area of SD. The heat pump cycles water through pipes in the ground, but does not actually pump the water from the ground.

My boss built a house a few years ago. He has a true geothermal plant. Cost about $40,000 (and no, I did not put the comma in the wrong spot). He has several wells on the property. It does heat and cool his large house, and he only pays for the electricity to run the system - Doesn't cost much each month, but I don't know what the "payback" is.

Cathy
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It would be the geothermal unit and yes, I know you did not put the comma in the wrong place. I think we are looking at 30,000+.

We do have existing duct work so may the other route would be the way to go??
 

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agmantoo
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Here you can see the various types of geothermal units
http://cmsrefrig.com/_wsn/page2.html
I have the open loop version.
There is no justification for the units to run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Someone is trying to rip you off. $7000 to $9000 should get you up and going if you have acreage for a horizontal loop. Possibly $10,000 to $14,000 if you have to drill multiple holes. The most efficient version is the open loop.
 

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The estimate came in at just at 14,000.
 

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Dutch Highlands Farm
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I looked into geo-thermal for our place a few years ago, the local PUD came out and made an assessment. Their opinion was that it was not cost-effective to install in an existing home, but was excellent on new construction. The estimate for our house would have been about $12K. Our neighbor across the road installed a geo-thermal system when they built the house. Extra cost was around $5K. Their power bill for a house almost the same size as ours is about 1/3 of ours. They use theirs to also heat their water.
 

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Hi,
Not sure where you live -- I think the geothermal heat pumps make more sense in climates that require a lot of cooling as well as heating, since they are efficient at AC.

I would look at doing a package of things to improve the thermal efficiency of your house, and see how that compares to putting in a geothermal heat pump. Things like more insulation, better sealing and weahterization, window upgrades, storm windows, ...can also make a big difference on the heat bill, and may not cost nearly as much.

You can use this insulation upgrade calculator to get an idea how much better insulation and better windows would save in heating fuel:
http://www.builditsolar.com/References/Calculators/InsulUpgrd/InsulUpgrade.htm

Your utility may have an energy audit program. These can be very helpful in deciding which changes to the house or heating plant will be the most cost effective. We have cut our house heat loss nearly in half with more insulation, inside storm windows, heating duct sealing, and infiltration sealing -- the total cost was probably less than a thousand dollars.
The stuff we did is all described here:
http://www.builditsolar.com/References/Half/Projects.htm
mostly under "Conservation".


You could also consider adding some form of solar heating -- this could be a sunspace that adds some usable square footage and house heat, or passive gain windows, or solar water heating. Lots of ideas here:
http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Projects.htm

I guess the bottom line is try to spend your energy saving money where you get the most bang for the buck.

The tradeoff for a heat pump also depends on how much you pay for electricity to run a heat pump compared to what you pay for what you would run your furnace with.
Basically, geothermal heat pumps have an efficiency (they call it COP) of about 3.5 (350%) -- it you pay 3.5 times as much more per unit of energy for electricity than furnace fuel, then the heat pump will save you nothing.
Ten cent per KWH electricity is about equivalent to $3 per therm of natural gas -- so, if you really pay a buck a therm, you will save little with the heat pump.

If greenhouse gas emissions are a concern for you, than a good furnace plus a package of changes that makes your house more thermally efficient will normally result in lower greenhouse gas emissions. This depends a lot on how much of your electricity comes from coal fired plants.

Gary
 

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From everything I have read, and from whatt 'agmantoo' just confirmed, geo-thermal is an energy saver in the long run. Who cares if some prospective buyer thinks you have a 'unusual' energy system? Perhaps a little education would go a long way. Its not YOUR job to educate people, and I think YOU will be pleased with the energy payback of your system.
Get another estimate. Or contract out some of the work yourself. The excavation, for one, is something that is not rocket science. They are charging you a premium for 'taking care of the details' for you. Price materials yourself, Black plastic pipe can be had in 100 ft rolls at any hardware store.... I'l shut up about that now, because I really have no hands-on expierience with these systems...just a lot of reading.

If youre just looking at resale value, that depends on the education level of the prospective buyer. If they want to save money every month, for the rest of the time they live there, they might be willing, just as you might be willing, to spend a little more upfront.
Renewable energy, and energy efficiency, are becoming household words these days. People are finally starting to feel the reality of high fuel costs, and will be looking for ways to cut thier monthly power bills. Its the wave of the future...
 
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