Sustainable Geothermal System
Preserves Historic Charm of 1830s Home
Objective: After 26 years of use, the Craig’s first WaterFurnace geothermal system was due for replacement. After two decades of technological advancements, would WaterFurnace be the best choice again?
Home Size: 4,700 Square Feet
Unit Type: Envison 3-ton
Number of Units: 2
Loop Type: Horizontal
“I wanted to renovate my home in such a way that I could live in what looks like and is an old home, but still enjoy many of the conveniences of a new home,” says homeowner David Craig who set this goal when renovations began on the 1830s
home he purchased in 1972. Today, the list of modern conveniences that helped Craig achieve his goal includes a geothermal heating and cooling system, which provides year-round comfort throughout the 4,700 squarefoot home without detracting from the charm of the 19th century structure. When Craig and his wife, Cheryl, bought the property in Acton, Ind., an oil burner provided heat to the house. Before that, coal and five fireplaces kept the home’s occupants warm during Indiana winters. As Craig made plans for an addition to the house, he considered the installation of a new heating system to replace the aging oil burner. “I was working with a house that is basically uninsulated. The 18-inch original brick walls did a great job letting heat in during the summer and cold air in during winter months, so we went from living in an oven in July and August to living in a freezer in January and February.”
“For the Craig family, the geothermal system delivered immediate results. According to Craig, comfort levels and system efficiency significantly improved.”
After researching alternatives to oil heat, Craig elected to install a geothermal system from WaterFurnace. A geothermal system takes advantage of free solar energy stored just below the surface of the earth. Using a series of pipes (an earth loop) buried in the ground and a geothermal or ground source heat pump, the geothermal heating and cooling system extracts heat from the earth and carries it to a home in the winter. In the summer, the process reverses, and the system extracts heat from the home and rejects it to the earth. In both cases, the geothermal system delivers consistent temperatures and efficiencies that exceed those of conventional home comfort systems, offering homeowners savings as high as 70 percent for heating, cooling and hot water.
WaterFurnace Envision System
The WaterFurnace Envision featured advanced technology and innovative components to achieve the highest levels of performance. At its release, this series set the new industry benchmark for dual capacity geothermal systems. Those who are interested in the Envision Series should check out its upgraded replacement—the 5 Series.
Contracted and installed by:
Precision Comfort Systems
In addition to consistent temperatures, a geothermal system ensures optimum indoor air quality (IAQ), and the average geothermal system lifespan exceeds 24 years – compared to 15 years for a more traditional heating and cooling system.
For the Craig family, the geothermal system delivered immediate results. According to Craig, comfort levels and system efficiency significantly improved. Just as importantly, the system was virtually invisible – no unsightly units on the home’s exterior to mar the historic appeal of the property. “We loved the system,” he said. So much so that 26 years later, Craig decided to take advdantage of advances in technologies and upgrade to an even more efficient geothermal system. Craig worked closely with Precision Comfort Systems, a WaterFurnace GeoPro Master Dealer in Westfield, Ind., that brought decades of geothermal experience to the installation.
According to Dan Welklin, marketing manager at Precision Comfort Systems, “It really does matter who designs and installs your new system. You need a contractor who not only is an expert in geothermal technology, but one who is also skilled in applying this technology to the unique requirements for each individual case. We have installed nearly 2,000 geothermal units since the company began in 1998, and today, about 60 percent of our new system sales and installation revenues are tied to geothermal.”
“The system is fantastic, providing consistent, even heating and cooling even to our study, which is upstairs and furthest away.”
Welklin points to a variety of reasons that help to explain the increasing popularity of geothermal systems. “Right now, the federal tax credit is huge. The entire geothermal system, including the loop, is eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit and may qualify for utility and state rebates. Second to this is the desire for homeowners to be as environmentally friendly as possible while heating and cooling their homes. And of course the low energy bills associated with geothermal become more and more important as fuel costs increase.
“In addition, the system is quiet, it requires no outdoor unit and it’s environmentally friendly. In fact, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) affirm that geothermal heat pumps are the most environmentally friendly and cost-efficient way to heat and cool your home,” Welklin said.
Geothermal Earth Loops
Geothermal earth loops are the heart of a geothermal system and the biggest advantage over ordinary heating and cooling technologies. For David Craig’s upgraded system, he replaced an existing vertical loop with a new horizontal loop in order to accommodate future plans for the home. High density polyethylene pipes were laid into trenches dug using a backhoe or chain trencher. A typical home requires 1/4 to 3/4 of an acre for the loop trenches.
Learn more about earth loops.
All of these features appealed to Craig, and his positive experience with the first system in his home convinced him to install a new and improved second system. “If you get a good car and you like it, you’re going to buy that make again,” he explained. “It’s the same for me with the WaterFurnace geothermal system. When you get a product you like, you stick with it.”
The first geothermal system at the Craig home used a vertical loop. However, Craig decided to move the loop to allow for future changes to the property and install a horizontal loop. “To accommodate the age of the house and avoid drilling into the foundation, we opened the basement floor, which was cement over dirt, drilled under the home and brought the loop up through the holes in the floor,” said Jerry Ehemann, salesman with Precision Comfort. According to Ehemann, his company installed two, three-ton, dual-stage Envision heat pumps. “After talking with the homeowner and conducting a load calculation, we realized that the larger, three-ton unit was a better fit for the house, which had been enlarged since the first system was installed. These units would provide the extra heat capacity the homeowner required as well as additional energy savings.
“Multi-stage operation ensures improved comfort and energy savings,” he noted. “In addition, all Envision units utilize ozone-safe R-410A refrigerant to meet the most stringent EPA requirements now and for many years to come.”
For the second time, Craig is pleased with his decision to install a geothermal system. “The system is fantastic, providing consistent, even heating and cooling even to our study, which is upstairs and furthest away. The system has also impacted our energy bills. If you compare our electric bills today to those of the mid-80s, you’ll see that they are basically the same, despite the fact that utility rates have risen significantly in the last 25 years and the size of our house has also increased significantly. That’s just amazing!”
Craig also points to the environmental benefits the geothermal system offers. “We live on a 100-acre nature preserve, so green is very important to us. We share the crop part of the property, and we have prairie areas. We’ve also established ponds and practiced reforestation, so we have done a number of things in the green arena. I would add installing a geothermal system to that list. Our home definitely speaks to the versatility of geothermal. I grew up in a home with coal. I’ve lived in a home with oil. And now I’m living with geothermal. It’s unbelievable – the cleanliness, the comfort and the savings. It’s everything Precision Comfort Systems and WaterFurnace said it would be, and that makes me extremely happy.”
How much can you save with a geothermal system in your home?