Drilling Day One

Taken from the deck, with a blackberry/digital camera.

IMG00001, originally uploaded by Zeus Ocean Storm.

Great shot and a great way to share with me while I was 30 something miles away. This was back before this corner of the backyard was turned into a quagmire of drilling sludge and water.

Time to share some up and down sides of geothermal. There are more ups than downs. All through the process I’ve been waiting to discover and accept the downsides.

Downside #1. The upfront costs are necessarily substantial. There are three expensive stages to this project.

1. Drill three wells to 260 feet in depth. then install circulating loops. This stage has the potential to escalate in a hurry and by the foot. The desired outcome is to have ledge close by. This reduces the amount of casing that is needed. Each foot of casing beyond the estimated cost is $16 a foot. The well driller estimated ledge at five feet. My basement is deeper than that and no ledge was involved. Fortunately, he wasn’t far enough off to make a difference. Granite ledge was found fourteen feet deep.

2. Retrofitting the house with HVAC ventilation ductwork. Traditional New England homes use baseboard heat. Geothermal does not generate adequate heat for the baseboard system. Also, baseboard heat does not do air conditioning. The basement is easy to install the duct work into. One central vent down the spine of the basement with side vents over to each window for coverage. Attic access was the challenge. Fortunately, there are stacked closets adjacent to the stairwells. A bit of coat closet and walk-in closet space will be lost to the attic heading ductwork. Once in the attic, duct work is routed to ceiling vents. The room above the garage is a problematic challenge. Not much room for duct work access…..to be determined.

3. The furnace and control systems. Two zones, upstairs and downstairs. There may be supplemental electrical work done has well.

Downside #2. The waterfurnace compressor requires 118 cranking amps. Running power requirements are less. This is why supplemental electrical work may be needed. Also, this impacts generator backup. Any generator for power outages needs 118A plus overhead capacity. This is beyond your typical emergency back-up power solution. An industrial grade solution is required. Installation costs are on the other side of $20k. Easy solution, keep the existing oil fired furnace in place. It runs off of the existing back-up power solution. Run furnace occassionally enough to keep it in at ready condition. This also will provide supplemental heat for the room above the garage – that is on its own furnace zone.

Upside #1. Near total elimination from oil dependency for heating the house during the stern Maine winters.

Upside #2. 3-400 percent efficiency. For every one unit of energy consumed running the system, three to four units of energy are released.

Upside #3. Central Heating and AIR CONDITIONING

Upside #4. Carbon footprint reduction.

Upside #5. Quiet operation.



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