Bummed, it looks like GEO will not be in my new house

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by sixmm, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. sixmm

    sixmm New Member

    Just got the bid back. They want 93K for a 10 ton system with some hydronic radiant.

    There is no way that I am paying that much. It looks like an electric furnace with high seer air/air units are in my future.
  2. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    10 ton?

    That's going to be one helluva electric bill.

    If you're building new, that's probably 10% of your construction costs.
  3. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Give us some more info on your house, location etc.

    In my neck of the woods, and a 10 ton load, you would pay about 11K a year for electricity.

    Now, assuming that the hydronic radiant is around 20K (don't know your size), may be 40K. Did they have to, or propose to, drill? Does it include hot water?

    93K - 28K tax credits= 65K out of pocket

    Lets say 30K for the radiant, 10K for electric furnace and A/C = 40K out ofpocket

    So geo (just a guess) is 25K more.

    However, it will save you 8K in heating costs alone every year.

    Pretty much a no brainer in favor of geo.....

    So, let us know more details please, so we can reduce the guesswork here.
  4. Designer_Mike

    Designer_Mike Member

    If the 10 ton unit is sized right, the real problem is not the cost of the Geo unit. The REAL problem is you are building TOO DAMN BIG of a house!:eek:

    Some quick calcs and I think docjenser is being conservative with your potential electric bill.

    Have the HVAC guy give you some calcs for other energy costs and I bet you will reconsider.
  5. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sure I was conservative. Given the vast amount of energy your house will be consuming (10 tons), one more reason to use the most efficient form of space conditioning system out there.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011
  6. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Personally, I'm tired of arguing payback when there is nothing else in a house that has any payback. Except maybe insulation.

    We shoot ourselves in the foot by playing the numbers game.

    The market needs to be educated on what a modern efficient hvac system costs - geo or not. Don't want good indoor air quality? Then likely a client already against geo. Spend more on one bathroom vs. your mechanical system? How much chance do you have of convincing that client?

    Nothing related to sixmm in any way. Just thoughts on how we defend geo.
  7. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

  8. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    In the past, I have dealt with this issue and approached it a few different ways. Below is an e-mail from a colleague of mine who is in the energy efficiency business, Ted Kidd.

    Don't carry the weight of payback on your shoulders. "Payback" is a term often used but little understood. Frequently its unsophisticated consumers attempting to appear sophisticated. Often it hides fear, ignorance, or lack of resources. Figure out which quickly. No point trying to sell to an ignorant person with no resources.

    Reassure them that the numbers may or may not make sense for them, then redirect. Talk cash flow. This is a more accurate depiction of cost anyway. Determine how much the monthly cost of "better" is if replacement is imminent, or total cost if not. Determine monthly savings, that's how most things are paid for. The net, if any, is their true cost.

    Remind them that when considering this monthly investment to remember this is not a "timeshare", nor Enron stock. This money is not simply flushed. This improvement, beyond saving money, increases their asset value and has intangible benefits such as increased resale and pride of ownership, and shows environmental and societal concern and contribution.

    Break it down to it's simplistic form. Everything has some cost. Is this worth it to you? If it were free, easy AND simple it wouldn't be popular, it would be ubiquitous.

    If they insist on talking payback turn up the "idiot volume". Sometimes people's expectations of payback and their experience don't match up. Hold up a mirror to their statements.

    Ask what their assumption of "good payback" means. Ask what other items they invest in. Ask roi for those items and divide by 100.

    Don't carry the weight of "payback" on your shoulders, make them carry it. They said it, have them explain it.

    When the conversation turns to payback use it to your advantage. Drill down. They are trying to tell you something. Have them explain it.
  9. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Is it reasonable to compare geo with radiant to electric forced air?
    How 'bout water to air geo if the budget will not permit radiant.....?
  10. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    I am just a home owner, just built a house w/ 4-ton with some radiant and DHW. Approx $50,000. Half for about half. Must be twice the house.? Would really like to hear more info from sixmm.

    I said in another tread that I didn't worry about payback, had to put in a heating and cooling system anyway. The difference in system install cost would be made up in lower operating costs. Just my hummble opinion.

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  11. TedKidd

    TedKidd New Member

    "The rent is TOO DAMN HIGH!"

    compared to what? Sounds like you had no clue going in and would have been surprise whatever the number.

    Often we make decisions emotionally then attempt to justify them rationally. This is a good way to make bad decisions.

    Another way to make decisions might be to figure out costs and budget before getting prices. Like Doc, Mike and earthboy eluded, Slow down. Do your numbers up front, understand any premiums, then decide.

    That house will require heating and cooling for as long as it exists, and that is part of it's total cost. That operating cost will impact it's value at sale, and it's value while you own it. Since you have no idea what the real cost of energy will be when you sell, wouldn't it make sense to figure out how to make that burden as small as possible so you can realize the greatest value?

    Do a cost benefit based upon current situation, then you will have an idea if there is any real cost to a larger upfront investment in higher efficiency.

    What is the house's load. What will that load cost monthly? What is the capital investment? Monthly cost of that? Now you have a place to start.

    Electric: $1000 utility, $1000 capital cost = $2000 monthly cost to condition.
    Geo: $250 utility, $2000 capital cost = $2250 monthly cost to condition.

    Now you know Geo costs you $250 more per month and you can consider the less tangible issues:

    • Cost of replacing Geo is much lower than initial as whole infrastructure does not require replacement.
    • Pride of ownership. IMO a nice house is an efficient house. If you build a house that's all show and no go, people will call you a gluttonous poser behind your back. What you are building has a huge carbon footprint already, are you trying to hammer home an image that you have total disregard for the environment?
    • Insurance/buffer against run away energy prices. Double the cost of energy in the example above and geo saves $500 a month over electric!
    • Energy independence requires 1/4 the investment. Should you decide to go solar or wind your capital cost of getting to 100% is a function of your load.
    • Energy is something you rent, unless you produce it yourself. Energy efficiency is something you own. Are you a renter or an owner?

    Good post sixmm. It allows discussion of a lot of issues often not well considered and will help a lot of people reorient their decision making processes.
  12. sixmm

    sixmm New Member

    The house is just short of 4,000 sq in KC.

    Our electric prices are high to me but they must not be anywhere near as high you the east coast people.

    I am going to put in some serious insulation and about 700 sq ft of hydronic radiant.

    They want to drill 11 holes and put in 2 units to handle the house and a third to heat the water.

    I am not as concerned about payback as much as I am about spending a small fortune on heating and cooling.

    From my understanding I can do heat pump/furnace combos for 25-30K I can buy a hell of alot of electricity for the difference.

    I am not done comparing yet. I may end up doing a combo system. I am in shock at the upfront cost of the geo.
  13. Designer_Mike

    Designer_Mike Member

    Without seeing any of the calcs, my guy feeling is that a 10T system is way oversized for a house under 4000 sqft.
    Get another quote FOR SURE. My neighbor has almost 6K feet and they are installing a 6Ton unit. We are in a slightly more moderate climate but probably very similar (eastern PA)

    I would venture to guess the HVAC contractor doesn't want to do the GEO so he is oversizing it to talk you into the system HE wants to install (and will probably make more $ doing).
  14. sixmm

    sixmm New Member

    I think you are right on. Two of the general contractors I am getting bids from use the same HVAC company. He is a brother in law of one of them so he could very well be bidding high for now thinking he has the job easily.

    I just got another bid from a different general with a different HVAC company and they came in at 77K.

    There is a lot of "massaging" that needs to be done on these bids!
  15. TedKidd

    TedKidd New Member

    KC someplace in Alaska? What design temps? Crazy glazing? 3 separate systems instead of 1?? A spray foamed house that size in upstate NY should take 4-5 tons assuming <.2ach leakage. That means your blower door should come in maybe 1300-1700 cfm50?

    There is probably a LOT we arent seeing here, like maybe you want to melt snow off your sidewalk or driveway, or heat a hot tub. Who did the engineering? Unfortunately I can't taste that sandwich through the internet, but not sure I'd want to...
  16. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I second that 10 ton appears high for 4000 sqf in a new built house with good insulation. That kind of house would be around 6 tons in my neck of the woods, which is not really that warm of a climate either.

    No reason such load cannot be done with 1 heatpump with 2 zones and desuperheater. If a combo unit with radiant capacity, they can be designed to do your hot all year around. So 1 heatpump could do the job, instead of 3. Feed us with more info! Is a horizontal loopfield possible? Why do they propose to drill? How many floors does the house have? Is a basement included in the 4000 sqf? You have to start with a manual J heatloss calculation to be sure about the system size. Ask your bidders for it, have it done by someone independently, or do it yourself. Both prizes appear quite high, which is not the fault of geo, but may be of some inexperienced contractors. Even with 10 tons, and 700 sft radiant (lets say less than 10K for that, generously counting), that is over $8000/ton, which again appears on the high side. May be something we do not know yet. If not happy, shop around!
  17. Narrow Path

    Narrow Path Guest

    10 tons for 4,000 sq ft sounds oversized to me! I live 130 miles north of KC and use Des Moines weather date for REM/Rate load calculations. Just completed a load on a 7,073 sq ft home with 74,267 ft volume. The heat loss was 60,400 btus and the gain was 30,600. This home is 2x6 with stabilized cellulose insulation.
  18. gnick

    gnick New Member

    What size are the two units for HVAC? and how long is the pipe in 11 holes? I have two units (4T + 3T) with 7 holes @ 300 ft deep for a two story 4200 sf in Dallas. The 4T unit was marginal for heating when temperatures fell below 20F, but the design temperature was 22F, so that's okay. 7T combined is plenty for cooling - even in Texas. Our ground temperature is 65F (undisturbed).

    I had to pay additional costs to remove the original systems (4 units @ 9 tons), including ductwork. I don't expect to EVER see payback, but I am looking forward to the day when energy costs are double what they are now. My elec bill is already less than half what it was before and half what the neighbors are paying. So, yes - I think it's worth it. I do hope to recoup some of the cost when I sell the house. Geo will likely be a big selling point when we're paying 20-30 cents/kwh.
  19. tstolze

    tstolze Member

    I have little to add to the specifics....

    I must say, if you have a properly designed and properly installed Geo system you will be smiling for years. :):)
  20. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Temperature and Energy logging by: Web Energy Logger

    Above you can see how we heat a 7100 sqf structure with a 6 ton geo system for under $800 annually.
    Price is usually around $5000/ton, excluding floors or ductwork.
    The problem seems to be the oversizing of your heating system, and resulting high price. :eek:

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