PDA

View Full Version : geothermal for new house??



eugene thomas
01-20-2014, 2:05 PM
I am going tohave house built this year and one of the many things throwing around is goingwith geothermal. Seems that everyone talk to has their opinion. theheating companies are all for it. But seems that friends and other tradespeople that talk to about it are down on the long term payback. I knowabout the tax credits, canít help but know way the heating companies keepreminding me of it. just wondering if anyone converted existing houseover to geothermal and has some savings numbers. House will have full basement with about 1600square feet min floor. From Wisconsin so do get some colddays..

David Weaver
01-20-2014, 2:14 PM
BIL has, I haven't. I have natural gas, he doesn't. He has propane. His system cost before credits was about $20K for a three well system with vertical wells, and I believe his heat bill is about a third of what it was with propane, figure $2k a year of savings (he's heating double the SF, though).

I'd imagine his A/C in the summer costs less, too, but I didn't ask him about that as I only had a passing curiosity.

Is natural gas one of your heating options?

David Masters
01-20-2014, 2:32 PM
Electric service is the only option for me. When I purchased the house, it had an air sourced heat pump that we continued to use for the next 15 years. When the heat pump was due to be replaced, I looked at geothermal. I found several payback calculators on the Internet which showed my payback to be around 8 years. Then came the tax credits and a $1200 rebate from the power company. With these taken into account, the geothermal system came in about the same price as putting in an energy efficient air source heat pump. I priced four systems and prices in some cases were several thousand dollars different. The difference in prices were largely attributed to the cost of digging and installing the loops in the yard. I ended up going with two Water Furnace systems since my home was already multi-zoned heating. After all costs, credits, and rebates were taken into account, I remember the entire project cost me $14k.

I've been extremely happy with its performance. The electricity bills have dropped between 1/4 to 1/3. When I talk to my neighbors still using an air source heat pump, I find I'm paying significantly less for my winter bills. One advantage that I wasn't expecting is how quiet the system runs. You hardly know that the system is operating.

With a new house you won't have to worry about this, but it took about two years to get the soil over the trenches dug for the loops to settle. I have six loops running through the front yard and it looked pretty awful for a while.

eugene thomas
01-20-2014, 2:41 PM
I live in country so will do loops if go geo. the natural gas main stops about 3/4 of mile from my house. propane will be the fuel use just have to wait to get numbers back from contractor and heating company's talking to One heating company told me that some of the tax credits changed as of January 1 so will see what happens..

phil harold
01-20-2014, 2:47 PM
If was to build a new house my priorities in order

foam insulation
passive solar
in-floor radiant heating
geothermal


heating mass over trying to heat air will save you in the long run
now if you could cool with a radiant system, that would be awesome

eugene thomas
01-20-2014, 2:58 PM
well, I might have three of the four on your list Phil. not really looked into the passive solar.

phil harold
01-20-2014, 3:44 PM
well, I might have three of the four on your list Phil. not really looked into the passive solar.
passive solar is relativity easy basics here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_solar_building_design

just position your house to get the max sun during the winter and least during the summer
large windows with properly designed overhangs http://www.susdesign.com/overhang/

have a heat mass
the house does not have to look modern just incorporate the ideas into it,
add solar hot water heating and solar electric on the roofs cant hurt, but then it is not so passive yet still efficient

Steve Rozmiarek
01-20-2014, 3:48 PM
I have a ground source heat pump system, actually on my second system. It works well enough, except we get some wacky cold snaps that push it into backup heat mode, then the electrical meter really spins. More to it than that though.

The initial system lasted around 15 years. Towards the end of it's life, it got less efficient, and the bill climbed. I replaced it because the cost of fixing it was ridiculous. The new system, was stupidly expensive. I could have installed 3 or maybe even 4 conventional systems for its cost. The duct was all in place, and the loops were fine, we're just talking the handler and exchanger assembly. Maybe the price followed the housing market down, I bought in early 2008, I haven't looked. With the prices here though, i think payback probably happens a year after you have to buy a new system. It has certainly not saved me any money in the 7 years I've lived here.

It is very quiet, works as it's supposed to, and has been relatively trouble free though I guess.

One other thing I don't like, the heat coming out of the vents are only a few degrees warmer than the room air usually. If you come in from the cold and want to warm up, there are no warm spots in the house. No cold ones either, but I'm old fashioned I guess. It does work extremely well in ac mode. I think I could make the whole house a walk in cooler if I wanted.

Larry Browning
01-20-2014, 6:12 PM
I am not sure what the common name for this is, but have you looked into the styrofoam blocks filled with concrete for you exterior walls? We have those installed and really like them. Very high insulation and saves a lot on energy bills. Plus, sort of turns your whole house into a tornado shelter. At the time we did it 16 years ago, it only added about 5% to the cost of the home. Don't know what it would add today though.

Brian Elfert
01-20-2014, 6:49 PM
I got quotes for geothermal in 2008 for a new house that is 1,200 sq ft on one level with a basement. About $26,000 before credits, but that included all duct work for house and buried loops, not well loops. Remember that HVAC contractors tend to inflate their prices when tax credits are available. They don't inflate prices by 30%, but they put some of that tax credit money in their pocket.

I was planning to use SIPs for the house I wanted to build. In theory they are pretty air tight and well insulated. I didn't compare pricing against ICFs.

phil harold
01-20-2014, 6:57 PM
If you come in from the cold and want to warm up, there are no warm spots in the house. .
That why I love radiant heat the floor is warm

Brad Adams
01-20-2014, 7:38 PM
I've been extremely happy with its performance. The electricity bills have dropped between 1/4 to 1/3.[/QUOTE]

I am an hvac contractor and install geo thermal. Say you have a $200 electric bill. If you save a quarter of that amount you are looking at a 23 year payback, in my area. Most installs around here for geo are about $22,000. A really efficient gas furnace and 18 seer a/c would be around $8500. I like geo but some places just don't warrant installing one. In a small residence money would be better spent on foam insulation. When the unit goes breaks down in 15 years, and all mechanical equipment does, your savings go out the door. Parts and labor are not cheap.

Lee Schierer
01-20-2014, 7:59 PM
I converted my house over 30 years ago. We added 1/3 more heated space at the same time we installed the geothermal unit. Our electric bill stayed exactly the same even though we were heating more house and the temp stayed the same 24/7 instead of setting back the individual room thermostats each night for the electric base boards.

Four years ago we decided we wanted A/C for the summer ( our original unit was heat only). We upgraded to a new Bryant (Carrier) geothermal unit. We turned on the A/C on July 5 and ran the A/C July, August and September. In that 3 month period we used exactly the same kilowatts that we had used the previous summer running fans and a dehumidifier.

We live in NW PA and typically our unit runs from Mid October until April. We do see days below zero as well. It is a Carrier 50YDV (http://www.carrier.com/homecomfort/en/us/products/heating-and-cooling/geothermal-heat-pumps/product---geothermal-heat-pumps---50ydv/) 4 ton cooling 50,000 BTU unit. We heat approximately 2200 square feet at a constant 69-70 degrees in the winter. Our electric bill is about $150 per month on balanced billing. Our meter is an off peak meter and our electric provider gives us a discounted rate for off peak power use which amount to 60% of the time. We are a total electric home. My unit is an open loop system using two wells that are about 100 feet apart drawing water out of one and returning the water to the other. We do see some water temperature drop when it is really cold and it would be better it our wells were further apart to allow more warming, but when the wells were drilled we didn't have more property to spread them out.

Most systems now are installed using closed loops in either deep drilled wells or a spaghetti coil buried in a deep pit in the yard. These options add significantly to the set up costs. We did not get any tax credits for either system, but they would certainly help reduce the payback period. My first unit ran trouble free for over 23 years before we replaced it with the new one. Our new one has had no problems since it was installed. We run the variable speed fan 24/7 to keep the house uniformly heated or cooled and to transport sun load heat to other areas of the house. It is extremely quiet, making about as much noise as a refrigerator running.

Ed Aumiller
01-20-2014, 8:20 PM
Installed Geothermal in out house in 1994, put in 2800' of pipe in ground about 5' down... works great... we have 1800 sq ft of heating..

Had one problem in 20 years, a line in the unit rubbed against metal and finally leaked... this just happened and I went to eBay and bought a new
3 1/2 ton unit for $2200 and will get a $660 rebate on taxes in 2014 for replacement cost of $1540 (I swapped it out myself)

Also put one in my sons home which we built 6 years ago...

Both units work great....

One thing to note... Neither my sons house nor my house has the Auxiliary resistance heaters... have never needed them... so it is not necessary in our opinion..

If you get someone with a backhoe to put the pipes in the ground it is much cheaper...

INFO... when had tech verify the leak in our unit, had him get a price for a replacement from his company.... it was $7900... yep, $7900... I bought a new unit on eBay for $2200, delivered ($1540 after 30% tax rebate)

The installed prices are absurd to say the least... you do NOT need any special license to install them... they are treated the same as window A/C units since all refrigerant is sealed, etc..

Only recommendation I have is to special order ALL ground loops to be one continous loop to eliminate any outside joints... my system is 4 700' loops all connected in the basement, my sons are 6 700' loops, also connected in the basement.... that way there is nothing outside to leak...

DO IT....

Call me if any questions...

Brad Adams
01-20-2014, 10:32 PM
One thing to note on homeowner installed systems is most manufacturers won't honor the warranty. Doesn't matter if it is geo, mini split, furnace etc.

Kev Williams
01-20-2014, 11:39 PM
$26 grand? Whew... Glad my dad filled the attic with insulation in this house years ago. For years my natural gas bill has averaged year-round $2 a day with a $2200 furnace and a 40 gal. gas water heater, and that's with the original 47 year old single pane windows. (1250 s-f up and down)...

Think I'll stay with what's workin' for me! :)

Steve Rozmiarek
01-21-2014, 12:10 AM
I've been extremely happy with its performance. The electricity bills have dropped between 1/4 to 1/3.

I am an hvac contractor and install geo thermal. Say you have a $200 electric bill. If you save a quarter of that amount you are looking at a 23 year payback, in my area. Most installs around here for geo are about $22,000. A really efficient gas furnace and 18 seer a/c would be around $8500. I like geo but some places just don't warrant installing one. In a small residence money would be better spent on foam insulation. When the unit goes breaks down in 15 years, and all mechanical equipment does, your savings go out the door. Parts and labor are not cheap.[/QUOTE]

Brad, don't know if I feel any better about it, but I'm glad to hear a pro say it too.

Phil, if I was building the house, it would have some warm flooring someplace.


edit - I don't know how to fix the formatting on this quote, was trying to quote Brad, not the quote Brad used... no quote butchering intended.

Brian Elfert
01-21-2014, 12:36 AM
$26 grand? Whew... Glad my dad filled the attic with insulation in this house years ago. For years my natural gas bill has averaged year-round $2 a day with a $2200 furnace and a 40 gal. gas water heater, and that's with the original 47 year old single pane windows. (1250 s-f up and down)...


I don't where you are located, but I'm spending way more than $2 a day for natural gas here in Minneapolis. My house is 12 years old, is tightly sealed, and has a 92% efficient furnace. I also keep the heat turned down a lot of the time since no one is home during the day.

Geothermal makes more sense when you have to use fuel oil, electricity, or propane to heat your house. I looked at the cost of propane and it seemed to be cheaper to use straight electric heat as propane is so expensive.

David Masters
01-21-2014, 8:44 AM
At the time I bought my system, people around here using natural gas were were experiencing $300-$400 monthly heating bills. Now that large reserves of natural gas have been found, natural gas is probably the cheapest option available. It's moot anyway because the closest natural gas connection to my place is over a mile away. Before I installed the geothermal system, I averaged $300 electrical bills in the winter. In January of that year, the power company was allowed to change their rate structure, and my bill suddenly jumped to $500 a month. I'm not living in a drafty old farmhouse. I have a modern well sealed home with adequate insulation. I figured I might be able improve my energy efficiency if I replaced the 18 year old heat pump I was using. When I priced an energy efficient multi-zoned air sourced heat pump system, every bid came in around $14k.

The bids for the same sized geo system came in between $20k and $26k before a 1/3 tax credit and the rebate offered by the power company. Even without the rebate and credits, the payback calculation I ran was around 8 years. With the rebate and credit, the geo system payback was immediate, as there was no difference to me on the out of pocket cost between the air sourced heat pump and the geothermal system.

At the time I started this exercise, I had no intention of installing a geothermal system. It would be tough to find a time I agreed with an environmentalist on any topic. I spent around four months researching the options available, obtaining quotes, and running financial models before deciding whether a geothermal system made sense.

My power company supplies a graph in each bill showing a year's history of my electrical cost. I used this to determine my savings month to month. In the first month the new system was installed, I showed a 25% decrease in my bill when compared to the year before when the rates were cheaper. In the winter months, I haven't had a bill over $200 since installing the geothermal system. I wouldn't want to promise similar results, so kept my estimated savings to what I've seen over the summer months.

If I lived in an area where natural gas is available, I would agree that natural gas would be a much cheaper option these days. But for a guy who only has a choice between propane and all-electric, a geothermal system isn't out of the realm of possibly being the cheapest option available.

Ed Aumiller
01-21-2014, 9:58 PM
regarding warranty.. The company I bought mine from will.... www.MiamiHP.com (http://www.MiamiHP.com).... and yes, basically the law says they have to....

Brad Adams
01-21-2014, 11:08 PM
Read the fine print on the Miami heat pump warranty, it says only valid if installed by a licensed Contractor.

Dick Adair
01-22-2014, 11:49 AM
We installed geothermal in April 2010. A Climate Master T27 2 stage with 10 kw auxiliary back up. They drilled (2) 250' wells, that are sealed, about 25' apart. These wells hit hit water about 35' deep and 60 gpm flow. I think the water may help with the constant temp for the lines. My cost was $15500.00 and got a tax credit of $4890. I have the back up heat disabled and our 1973 house house stays at a comfortable 69-71 during the coldest parts of winter. The summer air conditioning is very reasonable. Our monthly budget with a (gas water heater) was $118.00 last year. I had 3 heat pumps since 1978 and I am very pleased with the geothermal unit. I monitor the water temp into the unit and during the year in varies between 55 and 43 degrees. During these very frigid days we had during December and now, the unit runs almost continuously. We are in Central PA, not as cold as you are in Wisconsin, so your needs are different.

Brian Elfert
01-22-2014, 12:31 PM
One thing I've heard about Geothermal is you want to keep the house at almost a constant temperature because the units don't have enough capacity to quickly raise or lower the temperature. Currently, with my zoned natural gas heating I only heat my first floor between 3 pm and 11 pm on weekdays. The temperature has dropped as low as 60 degrees on a really cold day and it can heat back up to 69 degrees in 20 to 30 minutes.

David Masters
01-22-2014, 12:48 PM
One thing I've heard about Geothermal is you want to keep the house at almost a constant temperature ....

I'd agree with that to a point; certainly compared to a gas furnace. If I alter the temperature more than two degrees upward, my aux heat pops on, which is the last thing I want to happen. I've read where some disconnect their aux heat if they have it, to prevent this from happening. When compared to my old air source heat pump, my geothermal system heats the house much faster.

Lee Schierer
01-22-2014, 5:41 PM
I'd agree with that to a point; certainly compared to a gas furnace. If I alter the temperature more than two degrees upward, my aux heat pops on, which is the last thing I want to happen. I've read where some disconnect their aux heat if they have it, to prevent this from happening. When compared to my old air source heat pump, my geothermal system heats the house much faster.

My thermostat allows you to turn off the back up heat strips. I believe there is also a set point where you can set how much temperature difference there needs to be before the heat strips turn on. I set back the temps in the bedroom(s) simply by closing the air register in the bedroom(s). I don't recommend getting a system without the back up heat as the circulating pump may die on a weekend and you would be without heat. At least with the back up strips you still have heat and can chose whether or not to use it. In the 35+ years we've heated with geothermal we used the back up heat maybe 3 times. Twice on a power failure when the house dropped down to 45 degrees to allow us to recover more quickly and once when our water pump died and it took 2 days to get it replaced.

Jeff Nicol
01-22-2014, 8:09 PM
I worked in the HVAC world for 30 years but mainly in the commercial end the last 25 years, but here in WI and most northern zones the heat pump of early years was just not viable after it got below say 20 degrees because they were taking the residual heat from the air and not the ground where the temps stay pretty consistant. With that being said and after living in a number of different houses with prety much every type of heat source available. What I have learned is that for my $$$ I would put in some sort of in floor heating wether it be from a gas fired boiler, wood fired, or from a geo-thermal system. The reason is that once that mass of the floor is warmed it is much easier to keep it warm and when your feet are warm the rest of you just goes along with it. The first and best thing is to put as much into insulation and the sealing of the home because heat loss is your major enemy in the heating battle. The passive solar of having a large wall facing south to gather the suns warmth is a positive in the winter but a detriment in the summer as the sun does not know you want it cooler in the summer. So with all of that being said with in floor heat and then having the forced air heat/cooling from the geo-thermal unit you can keep a very well regulated temperature all year and the AC portion of the system is probably the best portion of it.

My buddy just built a new house in River Falls WI with a geo-thermal system, the thing that he had questions about were why it ran a lot and of course that has been mentioned already and that is due to the fact that the air coming out of the vents is not "HOT" but just warm enough to tell that it has a higher temp than the surrounding air. This is how it maintains the temp in the house. The one thing that he is seeing right now is that with the very cold temps he is getting condensation on the windows due to the new construction and there being moisture in the building materials and the concrete in the basement drying out as the winter goes on. I asked him if he had an "Air to air heat exchanger" installed and he did not. These will help with the newer homes being sealed up very tight to take moisture out of the home from cooking, bathing, plants and so on. It is also possible to help this by bringing in some outside air into the return air to be heated and blended before suppling the home just to keep the house from getting "Stuffy".

So good insulation, some infloor heat, the sun is can be your friend, good luck with the new home to a fellow cheesehead!

Jeff

eugene thomas
01-22-2014, 10:47 PM
Lot of food for thought here. I have in floor heat in my grage so know about the idea of not changing the temprature during the night and all. going to have in floor heat in basement and main floor bathrooms. will have propane furnace as back up. I talked to a heating company and he will do what he called a Manual J heat loss /gain. He mentioned the air to air heat exchange and even though not want to spend around $1800 or so more will have to consider it. The tax credit would be nice but seems the irs decided to re inturpit the way law was writen (contractors words) so as of last november guess only can get tax credit for the actual geo stuff not the whole heating system in new house. As to doing the tubing geo install myself. I really dont have the time or the KNOWLAGE.

Lee Schierer
01-23-2014, 7:57 AM
[QUOTE=eugene thomas;2213901 He mentioned the air to air heat exchange and even though not want to spend around $1800 or so more will have to consider it. The tax credit would be nice but seems the irs decided to re inturpit the way law was writen (contractors words) so as of last november guess only can get tax credit for the actual geo stuff not the whole heating system in new house. [/QUOTE]

Just be aware that conventional air source heat pumps do not work well when temps fall below 40 degrees. Many add outside heat strips to warm the air that the heat pump is trying to pull heat from, which is not very efficient. I would check with a tax professional on exactly what portion of the system you can claim before claiming a tax credit.

eugene thomas
01-23-2014, 2:16 PM
Called my propane company today not out but their cash price is $3.94 today. Geo sounds little more enticing..

David Weaver
01-23-2014, 2:34 PM
One of my news tickers said a million BTUs of natural gas on the spot market was at $135 sometime recently. Most contracted rates are probably around $5. It's a bad time to be buying energy right now. I'll bet even at $3.94, they have plenty of people calling and saying they don't have a choice but to buy right now because of the temperatures lately.

David Weaver
01-23-2014, 2:46 PM
Just be aware that conventional air source heat pumps do not work well when temps fall below 40 degrees. Many add outside heat strips to warm the air that the heat pump is trying to pull heat from, which is not very efficient. I would check with a tax professional on exactly what portion of the system you can claim before claiming a tax credit.

I am not a tax professional, but I can use google.

There is an IRS notice that was updated in 2013 (notice 2013-70) that describes what can be taken as a credit (the notice refers to Section 25D, which I have never read).

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-13-70.pdf

Go to page 11 and read the last question and answer on that page. It describes what can be credited and what can't. It's short and easy.

If they were allowing a lot more to be credited before, the program must've been too popular, or maybe they were too obscure in a prior notice and have found a lot of deductions in audits that they don't think are kosher.

David Weaver
01-23-2014, 2:54 PM
Here is code section 25D

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/25D

I've extracted the relevant language for heat pumps. I only looked all of this up becauseI I have some stuff that qualifies under 25C from last year, and I am too cheap to pay a CPA. WAY too cheap.





(a) Allowance of credit In the case of an individual, there shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by this chapter for the taxable year an amount equal to the sum of—
...
(5)30 percent of the qualified geothermal heat pump property expenditures made by the taxpayer during such year.

(d) Definitions For purposes of this section—
...
(5) Qualified geothermal heat pump property expenditure (A) In general The term “qualified geothermal heat pump property expenditure” means an expenditure for qualified geothermal heat pump property installed on or in connection with a dwelling unit located in the United States and used as a residence by the taxpayer.

(B) Qualified geothermal heat pump property The term “qualified geothermal heat pump property” means any equipment which—
(i)uses the ground or ground water as a thermal energy source to heat the dwelling unit referred to in subparagraph (A) or as a thermal energy sink to cool such dwelling unit, and
(ii)meets the requirements of the Energy Star program which are in effect at the time that the expenditure for such equipment is made

...

(e) Special rules For purposes of this section—
(1) Labor costs Expenditures for labor costs properly allocable to the onsite preparation, assembly, or original installation of the property described in subsection (d) and for piping or wiring to interconnect such property to the dwelling unit shall be taken into account for purposes of this section.




Now, I didn't read all of notice 2013-70 to see if it conflicts with any of that, but a cursory reading along with the definition in the Q/A in 2013-70 would seem to read as the bits of the system that are geothermal specific plus any related labor, onsite preparation, assembly and installation for the geothermal-specific bits - would all be eligible for a credit.

David Masters
01-23-2014, 3:41 PM
This is pretty much what I remember the credit being when I bought my system. The geothermal tax credit at the time included everything purchased and installed with the system, so if you purchased a humidifier or electric air filter as part of the system, you were able to include that cost as part of the credit equation. Looks like they might have tightened that up a little.

There were other tax credits at the time for qualified energy efficient gas furnaces and air sourced heat pumps, but they were capped at $1500. I believe these tax credits expired the year after I installed my system.

Larry Edgerton
01-23-2014, 6:06 PM
Eugene

I am a building contractor here in Northern Michigan 30 miles South of the Mackinaw bridge, so roughly in line with Marionette, and have looked hard at Geo a couple of times. At this latitude it just does not pay off, we get too much cold. We get a lot more snow here than on the Wisconsin side of the lake so our ground is better insulated, but it still will not heat a house here without backup. Many try, but I do not know of any that work when we get sustained cold as we have had this year.

My current house runs about $100 in the coldest month, my new house that I keep heated runs about $70 on the coldest month. Current house is a conventional boiler with infloor and a hot water maker ad-on, new house is forced air with an electric WH. Both houses are 1250 sq. ft. but the new one has 25 large windows and glass doors, so although extremely efficient in the build I am losing to all that glass.

The thing is at these prices, there is no way a Geo system with a 15 year useful life expectancy is ever going to come close to paying for itself. I looked at every practical heating system on this last house with an idea of TOTAL long term costs for installation, maintainance, and running costs and forced air won out. Like I said I do have in-floor in my current house and it is very nice, but I am a woodworker by profession and wanted the filter system to take care of the dust I always bring home, and the total cost of infloor is a lot more. I am building for cash, so that was a consideration.

We stay at the new place on weekends, and as far as comfort I see little difference. A little more time to warm up if I have been out on the tractor moving snow, but sitting around reading or whatever, it is just as comfortable. I do wish I had spring for a electric mat under the bathroom tile as I have 4 windows and a full glass door in there and the cold washes off the window and settles on the floor. But I can afford slippers. The house is extremely tight, I built it and did not miss a trick on the insulation package. It will require an air to air before we move in permanently. With a leaky house cold air comes in and settles on the floor, that is why it is so common to have cold feet in many homes. If the cold air can not come in, that is not a problem, and you will not see the temperature differential from the floor to ceiling that many houses experiance. This is because there is no settling cold air pushing the warm air to the top. In my house the temp difference has been less than two degrees from floor to 11' ceilings.

So......... My advice as a builder is to spend your money and time on keeping the house TIGHT! You only buy insulation once. Some will say that you can make a house too tight, and they are full of stuff. You make it as tight as you can and then YOU control the air change and humidity with an air to air. Include some sort of air lock entryway in your plan, one that the doors are far enough apart that people will close the first before opening the second, this makes a big difference, especially if you have kids.

A book I highly recommend is "Builders guide to Cold Climates" by Joseph Lstiburek. the book is well written in plain English and is beyond what an average contractor would bother reading. There are ton of misconceptions about houses that can lead to problems down the road with moisture issues, so it would be good if you understood the ramifications of the decisions that you will have to make.

Gotta run......

Larry

Brad Adams
01-23-2014, 6:12 PM
As an HVAC contractor, plus one to everything Larry said above.

Jeff Erbele
01-24-2014, 6:09 AM
I am not sure what the common name for this is, but have you looked into the styrofoam blocks filled with concrete for you exterior walls? We have those installed and really like them. Very high insulation and saves a lot on energy bills. Plus, sort of turns your whole house into a tornado shelter. At the time we did it 16 years ago, it only added about 5% to the cost of the home. Don't know what it would add today though.

I've seen those at the home builders trade shows. They appear as a great concept. I googled < styrofoam basement forms >
https://www.google.com/search?q=styrofoam+basement+forms&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
and there are various generic and brand names for them; insulated concrete forms, ReddiForm, Quad-lock

Larry Browning
01-24-2014, 8:59 AM
I've seen those at the home builders trade shows. They appear as a great concept. I googled < styrofoam basement forms >
https://www.google.com/search?q=styrofoam+basement+forms&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
and there are various generic and brand names for them; insulated concrete forms, ReddiForm, Quad-lock

IIRC I think the brand name on ours is polysteel. We were looking at geothermal as well, but after deciding on the concrete walls, the payback was just too long. Our house is all electric so we have a heat pump. In the 16 years we have been in our house I don't believe we have ever had an electric bill over $250, and most of the time it is more like $150 with spring and fall bills less that $100.

I am sure we could do better on our bill, if the wife would agree to insulated drapes over very large bay windows off the kitchen, but that would block her view of the woods at the back of our house!