Pennsylvania Another GEO Journey Started

Discussion in 'Geothermal Heat Pump Testimonials' started by IronOak, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    This is kinda long-

    I have only had my “GEO system” in place for about 4 months here in South Central PA. I earnestly started researching GSHP and Home Energy reduction ideas back in April of 2015 as well as obsessively reading this Forum and Energy Efficient Building & Technology type internet sites from about late spring on.

    Towards the end of summer, in regards to GSHP and to my great alarm & shock I knew considerably more about real costs (first & total cost of ownership), theory, geological considerations, equipment options & accessories and performance enhancement ideas than a lot of the purported expert companies/individuals that I met with or talked with (vetted) originally on the phone. An important take-away here is that just talking on the phone should not be the only sieve required to create your final list of bidding contractors. Hyperbole & pretense abounds!

    I’m not bragging here, but I am posting an indictment at least in my region of the lack of quality and coherent (human) resources homeowners have to call upon while trying to make an informed decision - especially one with this large a dollar range and complexity. The lack of knowledge and articulation abilities to reasonably describe the process, equipment and outcomes of some of those that I talked with was downright scary and some, truly bizarre.

    We ultimately did pull the trigger in early Fall with a signed proposal to get our GEO Journey started. It is important to note that the Company that we went with was 1 of only 2 that from the beginning consistently had clear answers, good suggestions and a professional approach.

    Because of my research (which did concern me about our prospects at times), I was and will remain very diligent in my critique and monitoring of our system and contractor. Due to the relatively short duration of our system being installed, I am not quite ready to publicly endorse either at this time. But that is not to say or suggest that we are not happy overall with both to date.

    Again, it is really early on, but we wanted to provide a little bit of insight in regards to our purchase of a GSHP System along with some early results…hoping it will encourage others to move forward as well as provide some additional tools for them toward that end. Take heart, quality GSHP equipment and true GEO professionals do exist - you just have look carefully to find them.

    I am most certainly not a GSHP or Home Energy Reduction expert...

    About our 2 (sometimes 3) -person home: ------a high level view------

    40-year-old ~2,740SF Exposed/Walk-out Brick Ranch (plus ~2,700SF finished/conditioned LL with ~2/3 of that SF below grade) – Attic Air Sealing and R49 Blown-in Cellulose insulation done this winter. Insulated exhaust fan vents/lines installed @ all Bathrooms and Range hood. Also replaced (so far) ~80% of our light bulbs with either CFL in occasional use areas or LED in higher use areas and other various weatherization/energy reduction initiatives.

    LL has a Large Glass-Door Fireplace with Tube inserts and dual blowers with an outside air intake – We historically burn about 5 or 6 cord every heating season Nov/Dec thru March/April as much for the ambiance as for heat, so about a cord a month. But it needs to be calculated into the overall heating profile no matter how efficient or inefficient it really is – we were tracking about 75% of that firewood usage in 2016 just because we really like to burn and will probably continue to do so as long as our backs allow.

    Bosch SM070 Packaged Unit installed in very late December 2015 (replaces a 5-ton ASHP that was about 14 years old showing its age and had a 1st stage failure in early 2015) / 1” HDPE pipe in 5 Bore Holes (w/Thermally Enhanced Grout) @ 225’ deep spaced 20’ on center (per my request we are oversized by ~1-Ton and 1 Bore Hole for our current load requirements (yea for 2 stage) this because we burn so much, for strategic reasons, weather pattern changes and future larger family utilization all of which I will talk about in a paper I’m writing about our GSHP Journey and Home Energy reduction) / other equipment & monitoring devices.

    We were fortunate enough to be able to use the existing insulated duct system (with some minor additions & modifications) which was in really good condition with the proposed redesign verified to be appropriately sized for a 6-Ton Unit.

    So a >5,400SF Total Electric Home that now has a trending yearly electric cost @ ~40% of prior year (see attached screenshot graph from the recent electric bill) – you can see right now it is trending better than 40% but I take into consideration that it has been a bit warmer in early 2016 in comparison to some prior years while also moderating my anticipated summer usage reduction just to be conservative. Who knows we may be right around our targeted 2/3 yearly savings goal when it’s all said and done…honestly, we think that goal is within reach!

    Our GEO install experience was a rather positive one and we are very pleased thus far with the comfort provided and as pleased (okay, ecstatic) with the reduced electric usage to date (which to be clear also includes the energy reduction items) and the continuing trend that has us at an average of ~20kWh per day. This number I believe should become on or about our whole house daily baseline without GEO. OBTW, for a more accurate usage prospective I work every day from my dedicated Home Office.

    What does the upcoming cooling season and then year two hold for our GEO Journey? -- We will see and try to report back periodically with both the good and any not-so-good findings or issues!

    For the Homeowner: Thorough Research is key and do not be afraid to challenge contractors; if the conversation doesn’t feel awkward at points then you are not asking the right (hard) questions. There is enough imbedded information, experience & warning signs in this invaluable Forum alone to give you almost all you need to be a knowledgeable, savvy and confident consumer. Be versed in both source/outside & load/inside components of GSHP systems! Critical eye References! Get multiple bids! Have a Manual J done! Continue to read about GSHP’s! Document everything from the onset! Take frequent install pictures/movies! Understand & monitor your system’s unique performance! Ensure your warranty paperwork is completed & processed!

    For the new(er) GSHP Installation Team: Get specific/real GSHP training! ASHP years does not a (competent) GHSP Contractor make. Understand and promote what a Manual J is and how important it is to the overall success of the system installation. There can be (and should be) good profit selling this type of quality comfort…but how about having at least a working knowledge of local Ground Conditions & Thermal Conductivity numbers, their key importance, relationship and effect on length of pipe needed (cost) in the ground…this is GEO we are talking about and it actually does have something to do with the Earth. It is simplistically complex – so be the solution not the problem! And for heaven’s sake please properly train and equip those that talk/meet with the public selling GEO and your company. It is inconceivable that as a maturing industry numerous GEO participants (at least in my region) are not any more advanced in many mission critical areas!

    In closing I want to personally thank many former and present Forum Leaders that have posted throughout the years and the many others & organizations that continue to promote & improve this exceptional technology on a national & global basis. It is impossible to calculate the value of their experiences and industry contributions.

    IronOak









     

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    ToolmanJohn likes this.
  2. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Your work ethic and optimism is great! This forum is here to help all, and we hope to infect other pro's with the bug to " get smarted up " about geo. Please keep us posted about the ongoing results of your mental labor. Footprints for other home owners to follow.
    Eric
     
  3. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What do you want to work better?

    Mark
     
  4. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What was your load? Did I see geo was same size as ASHP?
     
  5. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    More info-----

    The Air Source Heat Pump was a 5-Ton split system that for the first 12-years of its life did a pretty good job heating and cooling the upper level, with only minor effect on the LL because we had run supply only down from the attic Air Handler, due to (at that time) system size limitations. In the Winter we would burn about a cord a month in the LL Family Room Fireplace which worked out well for the LL and undoubtedly helped the upper level throughout the burning season. LL needed portable dehumidification most days during the Summer every year; it made it very comfortable down there.

    Interesting to note that on the Load Calculations (LC) including numerous other items, we had to account for large windows (AED), elevation being 230’ higher than software wanted to use, a never used (functional) Glass-Door Fireplace on the upper level, supply & return ducts in the unconditioned Attic that would become partially buried when the blown-in was done and the unknown (but real) effect of having to take down some big old (really scary) shade trees next to the house. And because I have a home-based business apparently the daily Internal Gains are on the high side.

    Combined Upper and Lower Level LC: Heat-Loss/Heating Load =~66,939 Btuh and Heat-Gain/Cooling Load =~53,876 Btuh

    Going through the LC process and then reviewing the outputs only reinforces unequivocally that using old “Rules of Thumb” for pricing and/or final design is a bad practice. As an illustration, we encountered 1 company that vehemently insisted 8 Tons was the sweet spot over the phone solely based on our square footage and location.

    Let me tell you how different it is out there from one contractor to another. I asked my installing contractor early in the process about Rules of Thumb and he said “we don’t work that way, too many variables”!!!

    We opted for the Bosch SM070 (6-Ton) 2 Stage VS Blower Packaged Unit.

    New unit does have factory installed 2-stage 15kW Emergency Backup Heat. Short-run Returns were added to the LL during system install.

    We are sitting right at $1,250.00 less in Electricity cost and about 1 less cord of firewood for the first 5 billing cycles of 2016 in comparison to 2015. That slope of decrease will now stop and usage will modulate per month -- but I’m thinking overall we could be ~$2,400.00 less in 2016 which includes both Electricity & Firewood costs. However, who can guess what the next electricity rate change will be…

    Even with the dip in temperatures towards the end of April, we are at an average of 24kWh/day in total home electricity use for the May billing period (see attached). We have also burned about 8 of those evenings (because we missed it so much already) for about 6 hours each night. We are on well water for those working the numbers.

    I’m anxious to see what this year’s cooling season throws at us and the subsequent performance of the GEO system and house energy improvements.

    Regards,

    IronOak
     

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  6. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    Another Geo Journey month has passed us by (how can that be?) and I wanted to give an observation, some findings and our electric usage (chart attached) for the May 19th thru June 20th timeframe.

    It has been interesting to still check the system on a daily basis (but not nearly as many times a day as in the heating season I must confess) and see how it performs (Flow, EWT & LWT and Return Air & Supply Air Delta T’s being the biggies) during Sunny vs. Partly sunny vs. Mostly cloudy vs. Rainy conditions at varying temperatures within those conditions. Also I’m starting to be able to correlate CDD data & runtimes. One of the most striking things is how consistent the temperature stays in the house during the daily and nightly outdoor condition swings. We are a “set it and forget it” bunch! And remember we are conditioning ~5,400SF.

    I can now also see from our electric usage & last years CDD data as we continue to zero in on the whole house baseline electric usage numbers, that our old Air Source Heat Pump may have also had more issues in the Cooling Season during the last two years of life than we were lead to believe by the servicing contractor!

    The only energy efficiency projects this last month were to plug in some of the office electronic equipment to a power strip (be gone phantom electric hogs) and convert two more light bulbs to LED’s!

    It appears that we are fast approaching that fun time of getting into the sustained high 70’s & 80’s (and an occasional 90+) on average with higher humidity with nightly lows not dropping too far from those ranges. So I think/hope this next month we will be able to ascertain more good data points towards knowing & understanding our Cooling system’s abilities and performance numbers.

    Regards,

    IronOak
     

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  7. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    The 1st sustained hot billing cycle in Another GEO Journey ---

    I’ve had a little more time over the past few weeks to spot check the System on hotter days with some of those in the 90’s midafternoon while not dropping too far into the 70’s overnight; all seems well. This most current billing cycle (June 20th – July 19th) I show the average outside temperature here was 77.8°F with a confirming 78°F at the nearby airport.

    I continue to digest and then recheck (against manufacturer’s specs & contractor stated targets) what I’m seeing system parameter and cost-wise…Our total comfort and the electric bill confirm a robust & efficient system performance!

    That comfort & cost have already spoiled us bigtime!

    And, I don’t think that I mentioned it before but the unit is rather quiet. I attribute this to unit cabinet construction, Smart Start, the HD rubber (used for weight rooms) that we set the unit on and the insulated (correctly sized) ductwork.

    Loop Entering Water Temperature & recovery times are encouraging…I checked the Flow Center around 6pm night before last (still ~90°F outside) and the EWT after about a 15-minute run was right around 59.7°F and it had cycled at that point a total of 5.75 hours since midnight. We have ~53.4°F Deep Earth Temperature here. Important to note that a runtime north of 13 minutes (in 1st stage) for us is key to getting a more precise Loop Temperature readings (EWT & LWT and the average) because we get a complete brine cycle through the loop field & heat exchanger in ~12.75 minutes.

    Efficiency and Capacity make me smile.

    Assuming whole house electric usage (without GEO system) is at or very near our calculated 20kWh per day, along with this month’s electric bill (usage chart attached) would seem to suggest that the System (GSHP/Panel Mount Flow Center/Condensate Pump/Whole house Dehumidifier) used ~14.37kWh per day on average.

    We keep the Thermostat @ 72° set-and-forget with Fan set to AUTO. We have the ECM DIP switch set to (-) or reduced 15% CFM Blower Speed and maintain an Air Temperature Delta-T right around 21°F to 23°F. For reference there were ~385CDD this billing cycle using a base of 65.

    Energy Reduction Items this past month: I paid particular attention to keeping sun-direct window shades & blinds closed throughout the abode, reemphasized to rest of the family the importance of using the exhaust fans when showering, replaced 2 more incandescent light bulbs with LED and put both the coffee maker & toaster oven on on/off power switches.

    A few Energy Reduction/Maintenance items were: Treated the Condensate Pump reservoir, replaced the GSHP air filters (after ~2 months) even though they continued to still look clean, vacuumed most of the supply & return grills, added water to 2 seldom used drains, cleaned lint from the clothes dryer pipe & exterior vent area and cleaned some debris from the roof ridge vents. (Best to add these types of reoccurring items as calendar reminders JIC)

    Now that we have observed how the System performs @ 3 Cycles Per Hour in both heating & cooling modes we will try 2CPH to see what effect that has on comfort (temperature swings & humidity), performance (run times & brine temps) and bottom-line cost.

    These next 2 months I plan to take a closer look at Latent Gain causes and reduction opportunities.

    Another (I guess I can call it) Energy Reduction item is that I want to more fully understand deciduous tree maintenance on our property with an emphasis on preservation & healthy growth. Especially knowing how much their shade (and to a lesser degree evaporative effect) can contribute towards reducing overall cooling load.

    2016 will be over before we know it.

    I am not a GSHP or Home Energy Reduction expert.

    Regards,

    IronOak
     

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  8. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    Another Hot Month on Another Geo Journey

    This last billing cycle (07/20 – 08/17) along with some occasional reading on latent gain and tree related information I concentrated most of my (increasingly rare) free time on observing and thinking about the change from 3CPH to 2CPH which I made early afternoon on 07/20.

    Although the data comparisons below and my observations are only for 1 month I think we have enough information to at least have a semi-informed opinion on the change. Know that I have not extensively studied nor am I GSHP proficient enough to know if 2CPH vs. 3CPH will somehow prolong system components. My gut tells me it surely can’t hurt system longevity while possibly lessening some on/off associated repairs along the way.

    Reading Type July (06/20-07/19) Aug (07/20-08/17) Delta

    SEE ADDITIONAL ATTACHMENT FOR BETTER LAYOUT---


    From a personal comfort & house temperature consistency standpoint, I did not perceive any difference going from 3CPH to 2CPH!


    Temperature swing concerns that get some press with decreased CPH seems to have not been an issue for us --- at least this cooling season. Fact is, it was 2.8 degrees warmer on average and considerably more humid (also see Dew Point Delta) this period than last and the house stayed consistently & comfortably at our 72° set point (unless I changed it as noted below) and we used less electric (see attached) in comparison. That ultimately is the blended & symbiotic goal.

    I was somewhat surprised that even with the increase in outdoor Temperature & Humidity the average Loop Temperature during longer run times (the ones that I observed) only increased by ~2°.

    Another thing amongst countless others that I have come to appreciate & pay closer attention to is Dew Point. It is a far more applicable & telling reading when dealing with outside Humidity (vapor in the air). Dew Point and Degree Days are really worth having at least a basic understanding of both!

    One late afternoon I lowered the Thermostat 5° to see how quickly the System could/would drive down the Humidity Level (& remove a musty wet ash smell) in the house after some Chimney work had been completed. It must have been rather wet in the one flue we had capped off and the System was pulling a lot of that moisture & smell into the house, with the interior Humidity Level at its highpoint getting to ~66%. Humidity was back to 51% later that evening and the musty smell was almost totally gone the next morning; it was intermittent in decreasing fashion for the next 2 days.

    So that brings me to the one and only Energy Reduction/Maintenance task completed this month: I had noticed some water infiltration during heavy downpours near the unused Upper Level Fireplace ceiling area, and just looking at the outside Chimney it was mega apparent it was due for some TLC. So we had a new crown put on (formed concrete), Brick mortar joints were ground out/repointed, brick was power washed & treated, step flashing sealed with Flash Seal and we had a 29”X54” top-mount SS Multi-Flue Cap installed along with having that (energy wasting) Upper Level Fireplace flue semi-permanently capped.

    Regards,

    IronOak
     

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    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
  9. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    Another month has snuck by and it seems like only a couple weeks ago I was writing about August.

    Not a lot of GSHP System performance or issues to report other than it continues to perform very well and meet or exceed expectations…

    This last cycle we did have 2 items that I believe increased energy usage (albeit slightly) for both the System & House subtotals. The first being we lowered the Thermostat to 71° around the beginning of September to see how it feels and what the cost impact might be (it will most certainly remain @ 71° in the future for Cooling based on those results). We also have a medium sized DIY (get to it when we can) renovation project going on in the Dining Room which was started about midmonth.

    One interesting thing happened on or about the 4th day of the renovation as I was working in my Office I started feeling a slight chill and when I looked at the Office Thermometer it read 67° --- thinking that can’t be right because it was hot outside I had to investigate quickly (with all kinds of System & Thermostat malfunction scenarios going on in my head); come to find out my wife had set up work lights to detect imperfections in the drywall finish in the Dining Room and it had increased the room temperature by about 4 degrees. This is also the same room where the Thermostat resides and I had closed the return vents because of the type of work going on.

    We continue to be right around a daily ~20kWh Electric usage average (~600kWh per month) for the House less the System; I unscientifically verified this again when the Temperature dropped into the upper 60’s and the System only ran for about an hour or 2 during those days and everything else energy consumption wise was about the same. That gives us a ~12kWh average per day for the System this cycle.

    I have attached the Electric usage chart from the bill (for AUG 18th thru SEPT 19th) for comparison purposes to last year. We happily remain on track for our year over year savings goal of 66%.

    Another interesting item was during a separate two-day period where it remained a fairly consistent temperature outside, one of which was a laundry day, I got to document just how much energy the Clothes Washer & Dryer use. We are a small family and it added ~10kWh to that day. Times that by an average 2 times a week times 4.30 weeks in a month you’ve got 86kWh just for our clothes washing & drying on a per month basis.

    Now in the overall scheme of things that is not a lot of energy (or cost) to have clean comfortable clothes, but it is exactly one of the reasons why when you throw in bedding & towels and then that “seems-to-always-happen” special one off item or event during the month, it remains challenging to get the House monthly Electric usage (less System) much below a 600kWh average…although I do psychotically keep trying to find ways!

    Replaced 2 more light bulbs with LED type during the month. Checked the GSHP air filters again last weekend and they still looked good; these are on the schedule for replacement during the 1st week of October along with Condensate treatment...

    Just last week I installed a ~4”X30” baffled return vent in the bottom of the door going to the Lower Level and it appears to have helped balance the air flow/pressure equalization some. I will monitor this setup for a while with thoughts of possibly adding (after more research) another to the top of the same door to create a high option for when we have the Lower Level Fireplace burning and choose to keep that door closed for one reason or another.

    This Fall we will bring in ~6 cubic yards of topsoil to cover the rough graded/backfilled borehole & trench field areas. We had originally planned to do this towards the end June (which would have been about 6 months from the installation date) but after reading more on the issue and the realization we were running a precipitation deficit in my area, we decided to wait a few more months. I’m glad we did because of the continued settling since June helped along I’m sure by some heavy and prolonged rains over the last 3 months. We will still wait until next Spring to final grade and seed.


    Warm Regards,

    IronOak
     

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  10. Stickman

    Stickman Member

    Great updates - thanks for posting them!
     
  11. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    Thank you for your comment sir, it means a lot.

    It’s hard not to get excited about this technology, the comfort provided and saving energy (cash), so I write!


    Warm Regards,

    IronOak
     
  12. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    Another (way too) fast month!

    We are extremely happy with our GSHP Systems’ performance including how much our energy use (& cost) has gone down. Coupled with this technology, some attitude changes, house envelope improvements, LED lighting upgrades and the other energy efficiency investments we’ve made, our lofty Phase 1 goals might just become a reality!

    I replaced 3 more light bulbs with LED’s and that leaves the Garage 8-footers and the Craft Room 4-footers to complete. These will require bypassing/removing the existing ballast to upgrade to LED type and I need to do more research to determine method and then come up with a replacement schedule.

    The Dining Room Renovation project crept into this cycle and is now complete as of about 1 week ago. Thank goodness that’s over!!!

    Electric use ended up at a daily average of 22.59kWh for the Total House w/GSHP System (or 655kWh for the 29-day billing cycle of Sept 20 thru Oct 18) and again I’ve attached the chart from the current bill for comparison.

    This billing cycle was a tale of 3 parts where the first 5 days we had an average outdoor temperature of ~72.4° and the Cooling ran some during the day, while the next 22 days we experienced an average of ~60° and required a little Heating on some of the coldest nights and then we had to go back to Cooling the last 2 days of the cycle when it got hot again. So, that ends up being a misleading monthly outside temperature average of 62.7° as gathered from a close by personal weather station. Note that the average temperature shown on the attached chart is most likely measured at the Airport which is about 4.5 miles away.

    I can now see with our current setup, completed Energy Reduction projects, physical location and lifestyle a point quickly approaching where additional Phase 1 opportunities might only be incremental as best (focusing on the heat generated) and may actually offset between Heating & Cooling timeframes from a pure dollar and cents standpoint. We will have to look at other Energy Reduction opportunities & changes for Phase 2 (2017). Solar PV intrigues me and we may have reduced our energy consumption enough for it to make sense to look at it more seriously in the coming year.

    We have not had a chance (or caved in) to have a full burn in the LL Fireplace yet but we are certainly chomping at the bit to do so. This coming month I’m hoping we can get a few minimum 10-12 hour burns under our belts, as I’m curious to see if the vent installed in the basement door has the intended/anticipated affect.

    We currently have about 3.5 cord of seasoned firewood cut and split on the ground with another 1.5 cord of seasoned logs ready to be cut & split over the next month. In the end, that’s about 1 cord less than what we would have usually had ready to go for winter before the new GSHP System was installed last December. There is another ~2 cord of standing dead in the backyard to be felled, cut & split if winter throws us a curveball…

    Almost forgot to report the topsoil for the borehole and trench field areas was just recently delivered.


    Warm Regards,

    IronOak
     

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  13. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    How are you heating domestic hot water?
     
  14. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH)

    But I’m thinking you probably already surmised that looking at our electric usage! --The Engineer & Auditor in ya shines through.

    (Hey and I didn’t even call it a hybrid)

    Curt please keep posting on the GEOExchange Forum your contributions are informative, engaging and a welcome & necessary counterbalance…


    Warm Regards,

    IronOak
     
  15. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    A note for last month on our Geo Journey---

    System still seems fine and up to the task while our Electric usage this cycle is pretty much in line with what the previous 10-month trend would have suggested @ ~24kWh per day (see 10-19-16 thru 11-17-16 chart attached).

    With that we are on track to be right around an average Total House Electric usage of ~35.5kWh per day (or ~12,958kWh total) for January 1st 2016 thru December 31st 2016. That is in comparison to 2014 @ 35,184kWh and 2015 @ 34,862kWh. I will work out the actual total yearly Energy cost savings once I tally up our Firewood use after yearend and then have all of December’s hard numbers in front of me. It should be right around $2,300.00 even with the ~12% increase in our electric rates in 2016.

    Average Daily Temperature here this cycle was 52.2°F with lows dropping into the lower 30’s on occasion and even the upper 20’s overnight a few times, so the system was running in 1st Stage a couple or so hours on average some days (but mostly at night). We burned a little less than ½ Cord of Firewood during this timeframe. I even pushed the System into 2nd stage once for about 15 minutes just for the thrill of it…

    Although we did not get to burn as much as I thought we would (or wanted to), the low Transfer Grill/Vent in the door going to the LL seems to be having the anticipated effect (Digital Infrared Thermometer monitoring confirms this) so I have ordered one for the top of the door to address any Air Stratification.

    ~2” to 6” of Topsoil (depending on actual settling) has been spread over the Boreholes & Trench areas. Pipes start to slope up some near the house and come into the LL about 43” below grade after crossing under a ~11’ wide landscaped area, so we added an additional 4” (for a total of 7”) of compacted topsoil there and then reapplied the landscaping fabric and some Mulch which had been pulled back and set aside for about 11 months. Fortunately, I’ve not detected any additional settling in the last 2 months--unfortunately, we are (again) running a considerable precipitation deficit in our area of about 4.5”.

    Early in the cycle I did get a chance to change all the Filters, added tabs to the Condensate Pump and applied the Septic System treatment. Water Softening System is schedule for its yearly checkup this week. GEO System will have a yearly late this month or in early January (after the rush). No additional items on the Energy Reduction front this cycle that I can think of right now.

    There is now 5 cord of Firewood cut & split (and tarped) on the ground and ready to go.

    Have a wonderful Christmas Season!


    Warm Regards,

    IronOak
     

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  16. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    How could you not love a story, a journey with a happy ending? I too burned a lot of wood prior to my geo switch. Now the wood is only for back up when the electric is on the fritz.
    Eric
     
  17. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    Then it got colder on Another GEO Journey ---

    This cycle was not colder than historical averages for our area but in comparison to last year -- much colder!

    Our Total Home Electric for Nov 18th thru Dec 19th came in at an average of 42.06kWh per day for a total of 1,346kWh for the period (see attached comparison chart). Business continues to be encouragingly brisk so I’m (locked) in the Home Office working 10-12 hours every day and we did have Thanksgiving here for the Wife’s side of the family this year.

    This cycle we had an average outside daily temperature of 37.5°F or about 6.5°F colder than last year and some daily lows were a bit lower than average. We did burn about a cord during this timeframe, which just so happens to be the same amount as last year (when it was not as cold but without GEO), so it still appears we are on track for burning less overall (because of GEO) during the total burning season…

    I did install an upper Transfer Grill/Vent in the door going down to the LL mid-month, but with Business as it is and the Holiday Seasons upon us I have not had much quality time to gather specific details/numbers and ponder their overall affect. I did spot check both the high & low Vents with a Digital Infrared Thermometer a few times and that shows a decrease in Delta of about 2.3°F between the two of them from prior readings - so at first blush it appears to be at least helping with Air Stratification.

    Salt System had its annual checkup and at the same time we had a new (& lower wattage) UV light installed. One thing they did after the install was to sanitize/shock the interior system and then take water samples and send them off to a lab for analysis.

    We are in the process of establishing our 2017-18 Energy Reduction Goals and will hopefully complete and then commit to them soon. The (very) rough draft list of ideas range from kinda easy, to rather ambitious, to where’s that money coming from, to are you nuts; strange then huh it’s still a work in progress. She graciously puts up with me!

    Looking at the complexity & time involved with the remaining LED upgrade/retrofit (and really wanting to get it done 1st quarter or 17) I think I may just have electricians come in and give me quotes to do all those lights in 1 or 2 phases. There are 16 of them.

    I am currently researching Touchless Water Faucets (one of the ideas from the list) to see if they represent an energy savings (well water which equals electricity) on top of the convenience and sanitary features. If they do pass scrutiny (as there are some negatives) I will make the Kitchen Faucet happen first because it now has a slight leak at the handle and esthetically needs replaced anyway!

    As of the writing of this update and with only 2-days remaining in the year and until our official 1 year GEO anniversary our daily Total Home Electric average (including GEO – everything!) stands at ~35.21kWh.

    Lowest Loop Temperatures (measured during long runs) so far this season have been (during the 12/15 – 12/16 cold snap) EWT = ~45.2°F and LWT = ~37.1°F in 1st Stage. Fireplace contribution (and the door Vents I would think) kept us from going into 2nd Stage during the cold snap; each of those days we burned hard for about 15-hours straight----it was hot enough in the LL to have to wear short sleeves.

    These types of Monthly Updates will go to Quarterly after this coming January’s Update (which will then have captured 12 full months of Electrical Bills & Firewood use with GEO) unless there is something significant or abnormal to report.

    Be safe!

    Warm Regards,

    IronOak
     

    Attached Files:

  18. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Whooo Hooooo!
     
  19. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    A major milestone on Another Geo Journey to report. Phase 1 is in the books.

    We’ve officially had the new Geo System and the numerous other Energy use/cost reduction projects in place now for a little over a year. Total Electric and Firewood costs have been calculated for 01-01-16 through 12-31-16 (366 days) and the total for 2016 came in at ~$2,276.34 as compared to ~$4,685.54 in 2015 and ~$4,983.17 in 2014.

    Our Electric rate was ~1.4¢ per kWh higher in 2016 in comparison to 2014 & 2015 which were within 0.3¢ of each other. This is how it shook out:

    2016 @ 12,917 kWh + ~4.83 cord of Firewood with no GSHP repair cost

    2015 @ 34,862 kWh + ~6.19 cord of Firewood + various ASHP repair cost

    2014 @ 35,184 kWh + ~6.78 cord of Firewood + various in ASHP repair cost

    Note: Between 2013 and 2015 we paid out $3,784.10 in ASHP repair cost.

    Looking again at our records I see that we used ~5.43 cord of Firewood per year on average between 2010 & 2013.

    I’ve attached the most recent Electric use chart for Dec 20th thru Jan 19th which shows an average Total Home Electric of about 50kWh per day for the period vs 72kWh per day in 2016…Note that the 2016 number includes 10 days of old ASHP system, however I don’t think that can be/is the full story on the difference. I’m guessing that along with the cold snap around Jan 4th last year, another major contributing factor must have to do with just learning/adjusting the new GEO System which had it in Full Load (2nd Stage) more than necessary the first few weeks of 2016. The expected (but moving target) loop field HE-HR performance improvements over the first few years of a new GEO System’s life also had something to do with it I would think.

    We are extremely happy with these year over year results and will keep looking for ways to be even more (boss says within reason) energy efficient & cost savvy/stingy in the future. I believe there’s at least another 5% reduction lurking around the house to be realized by just paying attention and being diligent…Phase 2 (2017-18) Goals are next on the agenda.

    To recap, we’ve achieved significant energy & cost savings (granted we are coming from a failing ASHP system - but it is ~5,400SF of conditioned space), increased the value & salability of our home, capped short & medium-term repair costs while realizing a consistent comfort level that can best be described as awesome. A win-win-win-win!

    Give GEO a look!!

    From an Energy reduction standpoint, this cycle, I went ahead and had the Touchless Water Faucet installed at the Kitchen sink in early January. It is taking a little getting used to but it looks good and is so much more functional because of its overall height and the sprayer attachment along with being more sanitary. Most importantly, I’m positive it will save water, therefore (well) electric, therefore dollars, therefore I like it a lot.

    System filter changes, septic treatment, supply registers & return grilles vacuuming, clean HPWH filter, check salt level in the Water Softener, add water to floor drains, add water & Tabs to Condensate pump and check/clean dryer line & vent are all scheduled for this coming week.

    I’m jonesing so got to go find a light switch to turn off!


    Warm Regards,

    IronOak
     

    Attached Files:

  20. IronOak

    IronOak New Member

    This is a long overdue Another GEO Journey update for sure. So much so that I’m able to talk about 4 months of use since the last update…Phase 2 is still a work in progress.

    GSHP System continues working very well and exceeding our expectations. It passed its 1st scheduled physical with flying colors earlier this year – Tech said he’d never seen a year-old Unit this clean and asked if we actually use it…I do incorporate pre-filters on 3 of the larger returns, so that helps some.

    We continued to see some improvement/reduction in our energy usage over the first 4 months of the year; which is now comparing GEO to GEO monthly results. The weather and temperature had something to do with it for sure. I’ve attached (now) May’s Electric Usage chart (thru 05-18) for reference.

    Also, we burned on average ¾ cord a month of mostly Ash & Red Oak in Feb and March and a little less than a ½ cord in April, so those quantities have not changed much from last year. I just checked this morning and our Electric use trend into late May indicates that we should be right around where we were last year for kWh used for the coming month.

    I did get pricing on changing (removing the existing ballasts (retrofit)) the remaining T8 lights with new LED’s. The price, well, was about 3 times more than I thought it should be. These lights are in 2 infrequently used areas so for the time being I’ve just removed the bulbs in half of the light fixtures and we still have plenty of light when and as needed…OBTW I’m not rushing into using LED type bulbs that use existing (the old) ballast for multiple reasons.

    There was some continued (and expected) slight settling of the GEO field over the Winter. I guesstimate that it was right around another 2” to 3” and that settling was evenly distributed throughout all trench areas. I may decide to just live with the dirt & sporadic weed look for another year (lazy, cheap or smart?).

    Last month I changed all the Filters, cleaned HPWH screen, ran and then added Tabs to the Condensate pump, cleaned the Dryer vent, vacuumed all the Vents/Registers, added water to the seldom used drains, tested Smoke detectors, treated the septic system, changed the battery in one of the Car Key Fobs, added additional water bottles (1L size as these bottles are more durable) to the freezer to fill up dead space and for power outages/other emergencies and use in coolers this summer, cleaned and treated the garage door bottom gasket and started to adjust blinds/drapes for internal gains.

    Just last week we had the Chimney professionally cleaned. I then closed the outside air intake and the Lock-Top Chimney cap damper until next burning season; placed a large sign on the grate “Cap Is Closed”. Sign may seem minor but if you’ve ever lite off a FP with a damper closed you know the drill (and blowback)! If you can’t get to the (monitored) smoke detectors to cover them quickly the alarms will go out/sound and depending on where you live that may or may not be counted as a false alarm.

    We have my first Solar contactor coming out the middle of July to assess our situation. After some research, I’m pretty much convinced that we will not install panels on our roof—solar shingles (someday) maybe, but roof mounted panels have many liabilities on an older roof! Nor will we go the Lease route!! Right now, I’m thinking a ground mount (with or without tracker) is probably the best way to go for our test installation but we will see what the experts have to say and what those costs just happen to be.

    Warm Regards,

    IronOak
     

    Attached Files:

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