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Juneau Couple Harnesses Geothermal Energy

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Then they had to decide on whether to use water or air to heat their home.

“We went with a duct system, forced air,” Kajdan said, explaining that they’d be removing their existing baseboard heating elements. “The alternative is water baseboard or, if you had a newer house, radiant.

That would be an efficient way to use your water, but it takes more energy to heat up water than air.”

A radiant heat system wasn’t a cost effective option for them, as they’d have to retrofit the floor. They worked on insulating their crawl space well to keep as much heat in the system as possible. They also installed a new garage door, as their old boiler had been producing enough waste heat to heat the garage, and with its replacement they’d need to better insulate it.

They also had to upgrade their electrical panel to accommodate extra circuits for the geothermal system.

The geothermal system has several components. A series of plastic tubing, the required amount of which is calculated based on the house’s heat load, is installed below the ground surface. They had enough room on the south side of their house for a 40-foot by 80-foot excavation.

They used a contractor to help them determine that they would need four tubes, each 1,000 feet long.

The tubes enter and exit the house though a crawl space, and are attached to a pump pack there. The tubes contain a liquid comprised of anti-freeze and water that cycle continuously through the ground tubing, which were placed around 5 feet below the ground surface, just on top of the water table.

In warmer climates a geothermal system can also be used to heat a water tank.

Bednarski and Kajdan recently received their first electric bill with the first day of its cycle beginning after the completion of the geothermal system. They estimated it was around 50 percent less than it had been before.

However, they have some words of wisdom.

First, a homeowner has to consider whether the cost benefits add up. If you don’t need to replace an existing system, and there aren’t government financial incentives, there may not be enough financial savings to install a geothermal system. Second, determining how long one plans to remain in the house is important, as the cost savings continuously increase the longer the purchaser of the system uses it.

Beyond that, the couple advises spending time picking contractors.

Kajdan said to be prepared for the process to take a while.

On the positive side, the couple reported that their house is plenty warm, and not as humid as it was when they were heating with water. Also, they no longer need to rely on diesel.

“I feel like I have more energy security from spikes in oil prices,” Kajdan said. “The environmental benefit is important. You have decreased carbon emissions.”

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Posted by FanningCommunications on May 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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