New house to use geo or not to use

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Thomas A, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. Thomas A

    Thomas A New Member

    Brand new member here
    In a nutshell, building new house 2600 sq in upstate ny and been getting both positive and negative feedback from locals on building house with geo thermal. More negative than positive
    Though I would ask here and see if it’s worth the cost or not and what seems to be the possible headaches that may come along with having it
  2. nc73

    nc73 Member Forum Leader

    if you're going to stay 20 years or more, go geo. If you can get gas, go with a gas furnace. The thing with geo is if the installer did a horrible job, you will have endless problems. What costs are you looking at?
  3. Thomas A

    Thomas A New Member

    We plan on staying 20+ years but we can also get gas heat...
    seems a big concern is proper installation of geo in the colder areas ?
  4. nc73

    nc73 Member Forum Leader

    Def go with gas. It will be way cheaper. Weather isn’t an issue, finding the right geo contractor is. Too much price gouging if you ask me.
  5. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You can also verify a users comment history to get an idea as to their perspective (bias).

    It pays for itself quite quickly in my area - especially if you're building new.
  6. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You seem to be not well informed. Check out

    Fixed pricing in Western NY.

    Something like $18-$19K after rebates and incentives. For 7 series variable speed and dedicated hot water heat pump.


    How much is Furnace, hot water heater, and A/C for the new house? Plus gas infrastructure in your house.

    The question is not how much is a geo system, but a how much more than a conventional system is it.

    Where are you building? Westtown?

    NYS now has a very strict geo rebate program, if the installer does not do a quality install and does not pass NYSERDA inspection, he will not get paid the rebates, which are $1,500/ton. You run no risk.

    Higher comfort and lower operating costs are certainly the main advantages, besides site emission free heating.

    NYS will phase out natural gas starting 2025, so all the investments into gas infrastructure will become a stranded asset.

    The public service commission has already ordered a couple utilities to seek so called NPAs, none pipeline alternatives, to avoid investment into gas infrastructure. They will also phase in a so called beneficial electrification rate, which reduces the delivery rate for geo and electric vehicle charging significantly. They are currently working on it.

    As a first step and as the first utility, Central Hudson has been ordered July 1st, 2018, to establish a so called rate impact credit, so they give every geo customer $264 back, which is an estimated 50% of their heating bill, until the new geothermal electric rate is established.
    National Grid is currently proposing to establish a new geothermal rebate, roughly $400/ton, in order not to have to establish a rate impact credit, until a new geothermal rate is set.
    NYSEG is the next rate case coming, and they will see the same requirement. So again, a lot of moving parts, this is way beyond just dialing in a simple $/kwh figure.
    One thing is certain, NYS has decided to monetize the benefits of geo systems to the grid, so they will give out both rebates and change the delivery rate for geo systems.
    "Heat pumps provide more efficient air conditioning and can reduce summer electricity peak, thereby providing benefits to all ratepayers.In addition, the increased winter electricity use of heat pumps results in customers paying more for fixed costs currently being recovered through their volumetric kWh delivery rates, resulting in a cost shift.These two factors mean heat pumps provide significant ratepayer/non-participant value.It is expected that cost-effectiveness in the residential sector, in particular, will significantly improve even with only partial provision of the value associated with summer peak reduction and cost shifting.Cost-effectiveness would also improve if the value of avoided GHG emissions was provided to heat pump customers.These values could be provided to heat pump customers through a variety of different mechanisms from incentives, to bill credits, and potentially optional rates such as National Grid is pursuing."

    Page 52 of the new NYS energy report.

    2) NYS has a mandate to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors by 80 % by 2050, which will essentially mean to replace fossil fuel in the transportation sector and the heating sector with electricity, since that is the only fuel which produces no emissions.
    They will establish a carbon tax to make gas more expensive, and they have completely stopped any gas expansion projects. The last one had been approved 4 years ago. The public service commission has ordered the utilities to seek alternatives.
    NYSEG for example has now issued an RFP to seek alternatives.
    So has ConEdison

    National Fuel is next. They are not doing this voluntarily, they have been ordered to do so by the public service commission.
    So more people will be transferred over to renewables, so lesser customers pay for the gas infrastructure, which will significantly increase the price per cubic feet of gas, which will drive more people to heat pump systems quicker.
    As I said I was staying out of the business of predicting the future of gas and electric prices, and I think to assume that the prices will remain low for the next 20 years here is not realistic, considering the way published NYS public policy is phasing out gas and switching over to heat pumps.

    NC73, I suggest you broaden your knowledge base, you are given quick advise to people seeking help here without considering the local and regional circumstances which are relevant for the advise they are seeking.
  7. arkie6

    arkie6 Member Forum Leader

    What is NYS doing to increase the supply of electricity needed to support these initiatives? Especially in light of the planned shutdown of Indian Point Unit 2 and Unit 3 nuclear plants in 2020 and 2021? Both plants combine for a total of >2000 Mega-Watts (MW) electrical output with an average capacity factor of >90%.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  8. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    They are building up renewables (wind, solar) and hope they are building up enough to compensate for the shut down of Indian Point.

    The point is that they have enough capacity, since the grid system is actually designed for summer peak, which geo is help reducing, and they have an excess in the winter in the off peak hours, e.g. at night. The grid is only 52% utilized, on average.

    The nuclear power plants are baseline plants.

    Geo systems reduce the summer peak, thus avoid the installation of capacity which is only used for a few hours a year, but must be maintained and paid for the whole year.
    Shaving the top 100 hours off the summer peak will save NYS ratepayers about $1.5 - 1.7 billion per year.
    Geo also utilizes the grid more, especially during the off peak time. Grid utilization in NYS went down from 58% to 52% in the last 10 years, meaning that the peak went up, but the overall electricity use went down. Geo heat pumps can help cure this. Each percentage point of lesser grid utilization is costing the rate payer around $200 million/year.

    Other monetary values are the carbon avoidance, meaning they replace fossil fuels, which are valued between $40 and $140 per ton as the social costs of carbons.

    Thus the geo systems bring significant cost savings to the grid and will benefit even the rate payers who did not install them. Thus they will get a specific rate, in the same fashion for electric vehicles who charge at night, to make sure they are not getting overcharged in view of the value they bring to the grid.
    urthbuoy likes this.
  9. Derrils

    Derrils New Member

    We just had a home inspection yesterday of a house with a geothermal heat pump system. We live in western Montana, so it is predominantly a heating load (5700 ish HDD excluding summer). There is a 3.5 ton climate master installed. It is a 1150 sf upper floor, and the same size lower floor but it is a walkout basement and about half is exposed to the earth. We belileve it is insulated OK given the era, probably had 16" in the roof but it's settled, along with 2 x 6 wall construction. Double pane vinyl windows, in good shape, and not a ton of windows compared to the wall space. We had a geothermal contractor look at the system yesterday, and the unit is not only 20 years old there is a lot of rust on the ends of the coil. Adding to that, when he ran the system he got no pressure reading on the loop system, and we could hear what is likely air within the piping system (it was intermittant). So he's given me a budget number for replacement of the entire system, assuming right now that the loop is failed. Hopefully the seller moves quickly and gets the system purged and tested and we can eliminate the loop as a problem, however I think this is unlikely to happen in the needed timeframe. Even the HP replacement estimate is $14K, that seems really really high.
    So I'm wondering if I'm nuts to buy this house, if we get them to pay to replace/repair everything?
  10. Derrils

    Derrils New Member

    These systems have such a bad rap for difficult operation, maintenance, and just really not working well (probably sizing) that I'm really leery of it. Why wouldn't I just put in a propane tank and furnace? If the heating costs $1000 per year, even if we save half of that it would take 20 years to pay back assume a propane system would cost $10K. Ugh, I love the house, but want to run away from this system!

    Right now in heating the electric kicks on right away, supporting the lack of operation of the loop.

    We're on a really really tight deadline on this, can anyone give me any words of wisdom?
  11. nc73

    nc73 Member Forum Leader

    Run from this one, unless you really really must have that house.

  12. Thomas A

    Thomas A New Member

    Thanks everyone. Now we are back on the fence whether to do it or not. I feel like we will still need an alternate source of (real) heat on top of the geo for the very cold winter months. Is this correct, or can geo really keep up by itself? That’s one of the main concerns
    From what I’m being told it can heat up to 55 degrees and from that point up we need something else to go warmer
    Is this accurate?
  13. Stickman

    Stickman Member

    I’m on Long Island, NY and my unit heats fine by itself down to 20 degrees. That’s when auxiliary electric heat kicks in. That’s how my system was sized and designed. As for “real” heat, I assume you mean heat by flame - I do not miss having a controlled inferno in my house one bit (former oil user here).
    Thomas A likes this.
  14. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    My system, which is slightly oversized, took us through many days of single digits and negative single digits without any backup.

    To me, it is important to build a very air tight house with as high an R value of insulation as can be afforded. That will ensure the home will be comfortable with a smaller system.
    Thomas A likes this.
  15. Thomas A

    Thomas A New Member

    Something else that is a big question is hot water for showers etc
    Does it generate enough hot water to keep plenty for a family or is there some other way this works that I don’t know? Maybe a larger hot water tank for storage??
  16. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    We build about 80-100 systems a year in Western New York, they are the sole source of heat, and nobody runs out of hot water. We design for the full load now since the introduction of variable speed heat pumps, the electric heat element is only as an emergency back up in case of a mechanical failure.

    About 40% of our work is for various builders in the area, who now made geo standard. Do you think they would sell geo system in their house repeatedly over the last 10 years if they had complaining customers?

    Here are a couple which stream online data publicly.

    Note the lack of supplement electric heat, or just minimal amount (mainly due to user error), for example setbacks. I show the ones who run for 6-8 years already.

    We now use a design where we have 100% of the load covered with a variable speed system, and 100% of the domestic hot water done by a dedicated water-water heat pump.

    Your builder has to follow NYS energy code as a new built, the energy usage is very predictable.

    Let me know if you want to talk to some of the customers....
  17. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    Derrils, welcome to the forum.

    I really didn't want to hijack this thread any further, Derrils you should start a new thread.

    I don't think it makes sense to spend 10k on a gas system when it's 4k more for a replacement Geo unit. It's very possible the loop is fine.
    Thomas A likes this.

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