As a representative for Waterfurnace you might think that everyone in the office is a “geothermal junkie.” This is not the case. I know this because I am not one so that makes at least one… What I mean by being a “geothermal junkie” is someone who beleives there is only one way to do any new building with alternative energy and that way is 100%, without any alternatives, fully geothermal. This would be someone who thinks you need the unit in your building, the piping grid or pumps on your premises and have a full system without compromise from someone like Waterfurnace.
I built a house two years ago and I didn’t do geothermal. I’ve helped many people build new buildings and I never pushed them towards geothermal as the only alternative energy way to go. The cost metrics just didn’t add up for me and the payback too long. If I wouldn’t do this in my house why would I ask commercial and industrial clients to consider this in their facilities?
The cost for a pure geothermal systems just seemed too drastic and short sighted to consider and the cost, I was always told, would eventually come down and they never did from the 1980s to today. If this concern is the same as yours then let’s step back for a minute and take another approach and understand why this stuff even sells. Someone finally gave me a peice of information I’d been waiting for that changed my perspective but not not my logic on the situation. I hope this helps you as well.
In a recent meeting with Waterfurnace I was admiring some new products and features. New controls for ease of operation, new units with variable speed motors, and hot water heaters. I finally came clean to them. “Gentlemen” I said, “I didn’t use geothermal when I built a house.” Then I held position for the backlash and banterings but they never came. Instead the kind gentleman I happened to be closest to said “we’d like to think every person will always use geothermal from Waterfurnace and heat pumps as their only means of alternative energy but we need to dispell the views of the geothermal junkies. There are always budgets involved.” He began to tell me how his house isn’t 100% geothermal either. The ROI wasn’t there for everything but was there for a hybrid system.
As building technologies increase you would think overall energy costs might decrease. New codes require more air-exchanges, fresh air intakes, exhaust system, and building comfort. This requires exchanging BTUs from inside to outside and vise versa. The efficiency of furnaces and and air handlers are going up and that is great but you still have to extract heat from the rooms, bring it out to an outdoor air conditioner with refigerant and back inside. The times you need this animal the most is when it is the hottest outside so its efficiency is at its lowest and it runs with its tongue hanging out to cool your building. Instead of using a standard unit outside, Waterfurnace can provide a unit inside that will condense this refrigerant without a loud fan unit with a ground loop perhaps not even half the size and alleviate your peak energy requirements. Imagine no loud fan unit. A ground loop operating at just 70 degrees F will do the same work and your system will require minimal changes in design or even in replacement.
Another positive side of a Geothermal system is many office buildings go up and have no idea how many tenants, zones, or even usage may be required after the building is erected. Hospitals are natorious for putting up buildings with a few empty floors hoping to lease to tenants later. All that is required is leaving a tap for their system to be added later and their full energy costs can be provided at a much lower rate. Many times this gives a tenant more opportunities based on their needs.
All you need to know is there are alternatives to being a “geothermal junkie.” Even if you just want a small loop for domestic hot water there are options.