Our GeoThermal Install Experience

We first considered GeoThermal a few years ago, but we decided to move forward when our 30 year old AC unit broke down last year and we were looking at a $6K expense to replace it we decided the expense would better defray the cost on a geothermal system install. Any major expense to repair a heating or cooling system can generally be applied to good effect to make the initial install more cost neutral – or even cash flow positive – and the long term benefit reduces out much of the cost of home heating and cooling. In our case, we also benefited from integrating the cooling into our existing duct system for heating which services our entire house – our old AC system only serviced half the house due to the separate duct placement covering only the top levels.

We contracted our installation though Sansoucy Geothermal of Paxton on the recommendation of a friend. We wanted better quality components so we could avoid most maintenance calls for the rest of our lives – they were like minded and recommending those as well so they were a very good fit for us. The gating factor to starting the work was the availability of the drillers to drill the 2 – 350 foot deep bores we required for our closed loop system. We also had extra work to remove some broken AC equipment and upgrade our electric service that increased our costs a little – our old fuse base panel with 100 AMP service was upgraded to a 200 AMP service with breakers to better support the system.

If you’re a Massachusetts resident, financing is best done by putting part of the project on your equity line and getting a $25,000 HEAT loan with a local qualifying lender at 0% with a 7 year repayment term for the rest – after qualifying through MassSave for the program.

The federal tax rebate of 30% for geothermal should almost pay off any equity borrowing if you can keep the install costs down to about $37k. The HEAT Loan will be payed off after 7 years of $300 interest free monthly payments. The savings in heating and cooling costs of 30-70% will cover the HEAT Loan payments if we anticipate averaging about $450 in monthly heating and cooling costs over the next 7 years absent any changes to our previous heating and cooling systems.

We researched MASSSave for other programs and rebates as well –

  • We qualified for the heat pump water heater rebate of $750
  • We were not able to verify qualification for the Early Furnace Replacement Rebate (an additional $750) prior to the installation. The Early Furnace Replacement rebate likely only applies to replacing an older furnace with a newer furnace, however it wouldn’t hurt to check into this if you have the time to validate the requirements.
  • We are still looking into the thermostat rebate for $100, but we believe our thermostat only qualifies for $25 under this program because our thermostat does not have wireless connectivity. Our installer did not save the UPC code from the thermostat packaging, so we applied absent the UPC code and may have that rebate refused.
  • We were hopeful to get a rebate on the GeoThermal unit itself, however many of the heating and cooling rebates were for ductless mini-split systems or air source heat pumps. We have applied for the rebate and are awaiting a response.

Our regrets? Our first – and hopefully only – regret was not cleaning the ducts first. The fan in the geothermal unit is much more powerful than the one in our old heating system. When it was fired up, a massive amount of soot that passed through the furnace was blown out of our ducts and into several rooms in the house. After the initial brief disappointment, we were quite happy knowing that there was no possibility of introducing soot into our home in the future.

The entire install included a new hot water heater that will reduce our electric bill by about $40 / month during the winter, which is maybe a third of what I anticipate as the cost of running the unit. During the summer months, the geothermal unit should be sufficient to heat all our hot water and hopefully reduce electric consumption for hot water heating by an additional $40 / month. We opted to spend a little more for the variable speed pump and companion control board to further reduce the electric usage of the unit.

Our first full month of operation from mid-August through mid-September shows a general electric consumption reduction of 10% compared to the same one month a year ago. Note that we did not have functioning air conditioning during that period last year. We originally had thought that we had an increase based on our electric bill, but we discovered that N-Star was estimating electric usage on a meter that was taken out of service when our fuse based system was upgraded to breakers as a part of this installation and consolidated down to a single meter.

We’ve been tracking electric usage since the installation, and our readings in mid-October and mid-November show roughly the same electric usage as our first reading despite the increasingly cold weather. Our electric bill for mid-November to mid-December increased by 87 kWH, but the colder mid-December to mid-January period, with some bitterly cold sub-zero weather, increased consumption by 290 kWH compared to the same period last year. Our next update will be in mid February to establish a definitive assessment on heating efficiency during peak heating season. I am anticipating a modest decrease from the January reading considering the abnormally cold weather this past month.

About David Picard

David is the COO of Beacon BPM Solutions and the President and Founder of PSInd. He has been working in the consulting sector for the banking, financial services, insurance, transportation and telecommunications industries for over 20 years. David began work as an operations consultant after completing his initial tour of duty as an active duty US Army officer with responsibility for operations planning and oversight for site and movement security of nuclear weapons. He has spent considerable time working with Pegasystems building the PRPC BPMS offering and deploying successful BPM implementations on that platform.
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