World-Gen Volume 27 No 1 - page 17

Thinking of switching to a geothermal
heating and cooling system? According to
Stephen Wierzbicki, president of Nutmeg
Mechanical Services Inc., check if your
house is appropriate for geothermal before
considering the investment. Determining if
your house will benefit from a geothermal
heating and cooling system depends on its
location, size, and most importantly how
insulated it is. If your house meets the nec-
essary criteria to benefit from a geothermal
heating and cooling system, then evaluate
financing options, the geothermal equip-
ment costs versus traditional heating and
cooling systems, the associated annual utili-
ty cost savings, and the immediate environ-
mental benefits from installing a geother-
mal system in your home.
Nutmeg Mechanical Services Inc. is a
company that has been servicing and
installing heating and air conditioning in
Connecticut since 1982. The company start-
ed installing geothermal systems after a cli-
ent asked about it in 1985. For 19 years,
Nutmeg has grown to be one of the top per-
forming geothermal heating and cooling
contractors in Connecticut. To date, they
have installed over 1,000 units and service
the needs of a few thousand repeat custom-
ers in the Connecticut area. Most of the cli-
ents they serve need a new heating and
cooling system in an existing home. The
company also serves clients who wish to
install geothermal in a newly purchased
building/property and partner with
ENERGY STAR when installing geothermal
and solar systems.
The most important factor in evaluating
whether a geothermal system will effective-
ly heat and cool your home lies in a home’s
ductwork, windows, and structural insula-
tion. Since the geothermal system consis-
tently provides more gradual heating tem-
peratures and cooling temperatures than
conventional HVAC systems, it is critical
that the house does not lose the hot/cool
air too quickly. This condition can actually
be more comfortable because you don’t
experience the blasts of hot/cold air as the
conventional systems. Prior to agreeing to
install a geothermal system, it is critical to
know the thermal capacity of a home.
As part of the company’s services,
Nutmeg offers an assessment of each
home’s ability to retain comfortable temper-
atures through numerous tests including,
but not limited to, a blower door test and a
duct blaster test on the existing duct sys-
tem. In order to recommend insulation
upgrades or window replacement prior to
system installation, the company checks
insulation values of your home’s exterior
and inspects a home’s windows to see their
level of efficiency. After the geothermal sys-
tem is successfully installed, Nutmeg per-
forms a start-up test to check the efficiency
of the geothermal system and to be sure it
is operating as efficiently as possible.
After one determines his or her house
is properly insulated for a geothermal sys-
tem, he or she must do a cost benefit analy-
sis of whether a geothermal system is
worth the investment. First, look at the
financing options available from the federal,
state, and local government to help curb
the cost of installment. There is a utility
program in CT that grants a $1,500 rebate if
the home and system installed are tested
and meet manufacturer’s guidelines. In
addition to this rebate, the government
offers a 30% tax credit to all home owners
who install geothermal. Still don’t have the
capital to invest? Many home owners take
out a home equity loan, a HUD Title 1 loan,
or a private loan. The home equity loan is
the most popular right now because it
allows the homeowner to utilize the equity
within a home to purchase improvements
that maintain and improve a home.
After the homeowner assesses current
financing options, he or she must consider
the potential that the costs of geothermal
equipment may rise and decide if it’s better
to install a system now or wait a few years.
A common misconception is that the major
investment in a geothermal system is the
process of installation. However, studies
conducted by the Greenbuildingadvisor.
com show that the majority of the installa-
tion costs come from the geothermal equip-
ment installed rather than the installation
itself. Many geothermal contractors, like
Nutmeg, have to adjust their pricing to the
rising cost of equipment in order to stay
somewhat profitable and remain in busi-
ness. On top of the rising cost of equip-
ment, similar to many businesses, labor
costs and insurance costs rise with each
passing year so the price of geothermal is
not expected to drop in the coming years.
One of the largest incentives to
installing a geothermal system is utility cost
savings. Vendors and contractors will attest
to the fact that today, if a family uses 1,550
gallons of propane a year without
geothermal and 22,420 kwh in electricity
with geothermal, a family saves roughly
$4,403.79 a year (This assumes propane
costs $3.18/gallon and electricity costs 12.3
cents/kwh). Geothermal also has a low life
cycle cost in comparison to a propane
furnace. The average furnace will last 7 to
10 years while geothermal systems are
typically good for 15+ years. The ground
loop used for the geothermal system has a
warranty of 50 years and is made up of
polypropylene pipe, the same pipe used in
city gas lines. A study funded and
completed by the Midwest Research
Institute, National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL) Task Order No. KLDJ-
Nutmeg Mechanical Services, Inc.
(continued page 26)
1...,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16 18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,...28
Powered by FlippingBook