Project spotlight

A Down-Home Recipe for Comfortable, Energy-Efficient Living

Alan Blum can’t say enough good things about Advanced Custom Geothermal (ACG) of Kiel, Wisconsin, as he has renovated the classic farm home he purchased for his family to eventually live in.

Click here for the whole story how a drafty home built in 1867 became comfortable and efficient with geothermal.

New Fort McCoy housing to feature energy-efficient systems

Fort McCoy’s new housing construction will feature energy-efficient technology to provide heating, cooling and hot water.

According to the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) Master Planner Brian Harrie, 42 new homes will include geothermal heat sources that will provide all heat and air conditioning to units. Additionally, domestic hot water will be provided through high-efficiency, instantaneous tank-less natural gas water heaters.

“The new geothermal units should greatly reduce seasonal heating and cooling costs while providing increased comfort to the Soldier and his or her Family,” Harrie said. This would provide geothermal heating and cooling the units, taking all the Army Family housing heating and cooling requirements “off the grid” with this innovative technology.

Geothermal home energy systems use the constant temperature of the earth as the exchange medium instead of the outside air temperature, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Though many areas of the U.S., including Wisconsin, can experience seasonal temperature extremes such as high heat in the summer and sub-zero cold in the winter, the ground remains at a relatively constant temperature a few feet below the earth’s surface.

Harrie said although the geothermal systems planned for the new housing units are new to Fort McCoy, they will be systems that will be efficient and within construction budget requirements. The planned system for each residence will include one high-efficiency, ground-coupled water-source heat pump unit; two pumps; three or four vertical ground-loop wells (depending on house size); a plate-type energy recovery ventilator; and one inverter compressor providing only the required energy to satisfy space conditions.

“As the system unloads, the energy efficiency increases while maintaining comfort in the space by keeping the temperature closer to the thermostat set point,” Harrie said. “Since most of the operating hours are under partial load conditions, the inverter can take advantage of low airflows while operating quietly at reduced energy levels.

“The ground-source heat-pump system and wells are sized to provide the entire heating load to the house, and, therefore, will not have to resort to expensive, inefficient electric heat to get through typical Wisconsin winter cold snaps,” Harrie said.

DOE statistics show the system life of geothermal home energy systems are estimated at 25 years for the inside components and more than 50 years for the ground loop. There also are approximately 50,000 geothermal heat pumps installed in the United States each year.

“As these systems get installed and we begin to validate that this truly is a cost saving and energy conserving system, the installation will look at retrofitting similar geothermal units into the other 57 houses in the subdivision,” Harrie said.

Tank-less natural gas water heaters can heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. The gas burner then heats the water and delivers a constant supply of hot water.

“We had one of these tank-less heaters installed in one of our housing units as an experiment,” said Ross O’Neill, chief of the DPW Housing Division. “It works well and we have not had one complaint about the system.”

The DOE states gas-fired, tank-less water heaters produce higher flow rates than electric ones. Also, for homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, tank-less water heaters can be 24 to 34 percent more energy efficient than conventional storage-tank water heaters. They also can be 8 to 14 percent more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water, which is around 86 gallons per day.

“We are always encouraging all of our residents to be more energy efficient as well,” O’Neill said. “The energy efficiency expected in these new homes will help in that effort.”

Harrie said as geothermal technologies get used more and more by the Army and at Fort McCoy, the next logical step is evaluating the systems for use in other parts of the installation.

“As our existing 1940s-era wood inventory continues to age, we will need to replace them with larger, commercially constructed facilities,” Harrie said.

“It is possible that geothermal could also be incorporated into the design of new buildings, further reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and making Fort McCoy a more self-sustaining and energy-responsible installation well into the future.”

For more information about energy conservations efforts at Fort McCoy, call 608-388-8682.

Originally published September 16, 2014 By Fort McCoy Public Affairs.

Big Comfort Hunter

In some cases, great projects start with demanding customers. Demanding doesn’t have to mean difficult: It can simply mean customers who know what they want, and are willing to seek out the HVAC contractor who can help them achieve it.

Download the whole story here of how homeowners David and Laura Grisar gat what they wanted in their new 6,500 sq.ft. home.

Geothermal Manifold Installation with a Professional Touch

Mark Doll makes a good living doing one thing very well – designing and installing ground source heating and cooling systems with a
professional touch. He has done many installations; retrofit, new construction, small systems as well as large. His company recently
completed a 4 ton heating & cooling system on a new home in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Rather than weld together a loop
manifold and burying it in the yard as he traditionally would do, he incorporated a Caleffi GeoCal™ geothermal manifold and located
it in the basement mechanical room. With the geo system fired up and performing smoothly, Mark gave an assessment of his first
time use of this new manifold approach.

Download the entire story right here.

A Down-home Recipe for Comfortable, Energy-Efficient Living

– One historic 3,500-square-foot 1867 home on 14 acres near Kiel, Wisconsin
– New owners who appreciate the home’s beauty
– Original windows, 30-inch uninsulated stone walls, drafty doors and outdated propane gas furnace

Mix well with respected geothermal contractor.

Result: A beautiful home that is both comfortable and energy efficient.

Read More …

Geothermal saves on family heating bills

In 1994, Al and Jan Stranz retrofitted their early 80’s ranch home to utilize geothermal heating and cooling. Some more details about the home and system:

The home is a single story, 1,440 ft2.
The system consists of 1600’ of loop buried in one wide 200’ trench, serving a 3.5 ton heat pump.
A desuperheater is integrated into the system for ultra-efficient hot water production.
The system has been very reliable; in 14 years the only maintenance has been some minor tuning of the loop pump.
Heating, hot water, and cooling bills for the family totaled just $1,026 in 2007 (at $0.10/kWh).

Large high school implements geothermal and saves 40 percent

When the city of Fond Du Lac was planning a new high school to serve over 2,000 students they wanted a system that would be energy efficient, to benefit both the environment and the communities budget. They chose a geothermal heat pump system, which was conveniently integrated into the ponds planned for the school site.

The school is 400,000 square feet, requiring a 700-ton heat pump system.
Two six-acre ponds, about 20 feet deep, were used for the geo loop. 41 miles of pipe were laid in the ponds.
Fresh air is delivered efficiently to each classroom using a dedicated outdoor air system with heat recovery.
Energy savings is estimated to be 30% below a standard VAV system.
Between energy savings and peak demand reduction from the efficient heat pump system, the district avoids $290,000 in annual costs.
This includes significant reductions in maintenance – the geothermal system requires only filter changes (quarterly).

Geothermal system a success for local small business

Air Care, Inc., a contractor of heating and cooling systems, chose to install a geothermal heat pump system in their new building to take advantage of increased comfort and lowered utility bills. The facility is located in Beaver Dam, WI.

8,000-square-foot building divided between shop and office/showroom areas.
Structural steel commercial building
Vertical system installed; 12 wells each 150 feet deep.
12-ton water-to-air and water-to-water combination units.
A desuperheater integrated into the system provides free hot water for the facility’s operations during much of the year.
Heating and cooling bills for the entire facility averaged just $122 per month the first year.