Along the way, we had to upgrade our electric system for an additional $1300. Basically they replaced the main panel. Personally I think we got hosed on this one.
Geo pipes connecting to Geo unit
What did it cost?
- Geothemal unit and installation + backup electric heater - $9500
- Upgrade of electric system - $1300
- Replacement and leveling of lawn that was destroyed - $700
- Tax credit in 2006 - (-$300)
- Total cost: $11,200
We also invested $250 on an Energy Audit and $565 on cellulose insulation blown into our attic. So our total investment was $11,200 + 250 + 565 - $5000 (for comparable systems) = $7015.
I just ran the analysis today to see whether the investment was worth it. I looked at our natural gas and electric bills from before the switch and compared them to the electric bill after the switch. Here's what I found:
- The Geothermal system saves a good amount of money on heating, at an average of $50 - 60 per month during the heating months. I have to note here that we are also keeping the house at a constant 68 degrees now during the winter (due to our small child and my home office); before we installed the unit we were running our furnace at 64 degrees during the day and 60 at night. So this is not a true apples to apples comparison.
- The Geothermal system seems to cost about the same to run as our old A/C unit did during cooling months.
- On a first year to year comparison, we saved $400 (32%) and 8511 kwh (46%). Note: I had to convert Dekatherms to kWh to make the comparison. For some reason saving 46% of kWh did not translate into 46% of actual dollar savings - I think this is because prices went up between 2005 and 2007.
- The Geo system brought us to a total home energy usage of 9901 kWh, with no therms at all. This reduces our impact to 75% less than the average American's use of 11,000 kWh + 1000 therms = 40,300 kWh converted. Very satisfying!
So what do I think?
- At this rate, it will take us 15 years to make our money back.
- If prices increase rapidly (possible scenario), it will take much less time - maybe 6 to 8 years .
- There are cheaper ways to use less energy, but this way we keep about the same amount of comfort, and I can continue to use my home office, while still reducing our carbon impact (from home energy use) about 46%.
- The Geo system does seem worth it, assuming energy prices continue to rise.
- If you have tight budget constraints, I would recommend spending the money on insulation and weatherizing first, and investigate solar heating as an option.
- Talk to people in your climate to see if it is worth getting a Geothermal Heat Pump system in your weather conditions!!