Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby TylerM4 » Nov 23rd, 2018, 10:05 pm

bob vernon wrote:I do have a geothermal system. Not a "geothermo" system that the Trumpster calls it. Don's cost estimate of over $50,000 is way out of line. My system cost less than $20,000, including the drilling through solid rock of three vertical ground loop lines down to 170 feet. I jumped to geothermal when the Feds and province had a rebate plan for it and I saved about 20%. But that still dosn't put the cost anywhere near Don's $50,000. It heats the house all by itself down to about minus 18C and only at temperatures colder than minus 18 does the electrical backup cut in.

Adding up and averaging my hydro bill for all of 2017 gave an average monthly cost for hydro of $158.00 per month. No gas, no wood, no other heat source. And that $158 covered all the lights, clothes washer and dryer, hot water tank and the geothermal..... the lot. We put in almost all LED lighting and insulated all we could and sealed up everything. I might not recover my cost over the years I remain in the house, but the resale value of the house looks good.



Thanks! Here's a comparison:

I replaced my HVAC system in 2013 and installed a gas unit heater in my large detached workshop at the same time. Traditional High efficiency gas furnace and central AC in the house, cheap/simple mid-efficient gas unit heater in the shop. Total cost was a little shy of $10,000

Shop is 1300sqft with 12' ceiling and was built in 2011. Big inefficient garage doors in there, but decently insulated otherwise. It's very close to being the same as heating a typical home. In the winter I keep the shop at 10*C except when I'm working in there which is fairly often. Our house was built in 1990 and is 2400sq when you combine both floors. Thinner 2x4 walls, basic build with no energy updates since built. Usually kept at around 19-20*C. The shop's energy is fed through the house and it's all on the same meters. My family of 4 living in the house with typical kids leaving the doors/fridge open, lots of hot water/laundry kinda stuff. We try not to waste energy but we're also not obsessed with it. Long story short - I think my energy needs are likely higher or at least similar to yours.

Fortis has me on equal monthly gas payments of $80/month. My electric bill doesn't change much with the seasons and is consistently $180 every 2 months. On average - $170/month for both electric and gas. Only $12/month more than you!

If I had installed your geothermal system at an additional cost of $10,000 it would have taken me 69.4 years before I saw any savings. What's the lifespan of HVAC systems? Maybe 20 years? Things start to look worse when you consider that a HVAC system that costs twice as much to buy is likely going to cost twice as much to maintain and repair. AND, if you don't happen to buy in at a time when grants/rebates are available it'll cost you even more to install.

Sure it'll up your resale - not that much tho. Too many people are getting wise to the true costs of residential geothermal systems. My boss just took out his 7 yo geothermal system (7yo house) and replaced it with a high efficiency natural gas furnace because his geothermal system was costing him way too much to run and maintain.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby dontrump » Nov 24th, 2018, 7:57 am

1300 sq ft shop and 2400 sq ft home and your running 1-2 fridges, deep freeze ,2 -3 tv ,1-2 computers ,electric range , lights dish washer etc Air conditioning ,micro wave and your power bill is only $100 monthly
where are u buying power that cheap? also to note I believe when he said $20 K that was a new house complete system and with a 20% rebate

not a simple up grade like u did
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby TylerM4 » Nov 25th, 2018, 9:25 am

dontrump wrote:1300 sq ft shop and 2400 sq ft home and your running 1-2 fridges, deep freeze ,2 -3 tv ,1-2 computers ,electric range , lights dish washer etc Air conditioning ,micro wave and your power bill is only $100 monthly
where are u buying power that cheap? also to note I believe when he said $20 K that was a new house complete system and with a 20% rebate

not a simple up grade like u did


BC Hydro's normal rate. We use the AC sparingly, there is no AC in the shop.

1 TV, the kids have a TV downstairs but it's rarely on. 1 Fridge, small and modern energy efficient freezer. Computers cost little, but we have 1 PC and 1 laptop. The shop costs almost nothing in power, efficient lighting when I'm in there but lighting itself is typically only a very small part

All of our heat is gas (including hot water). We live in a shaded area with the house set back into a hillside allowing lots of natural cooling and we keep the AC set to *25 in the summer. Our AC use is power minimal as reflected by the fact that I don't really notice a difference in the bill come the 2-3 months of the summer we use it.

Yes mine was a retrofit so ducting wasn't in the mix. $20k for a geothermal also isn't normal as others have already pointed out.

I suspect there's a lot of people out there like me who pay less than $100/month for electricity. I certainly don't have/do anything fancy to pay what I am.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby bob vernon » Nov 25th, 2018, 11:41 am

I can't believe these tales on here about people taking out a 7 year old geothermal system "because it cost too much to maintain." What maintenance does it take other than adding a small amount of liquid in the first few years? The installer comes by in the fall and checks it out and might give it a top up. It has run flawlessly for years. The vertical pipes are pro-rated warranteed for 50 years. My geothermal system was $19,800 and included adding a cold air return duct to make the circulation better. Our house is 3,008 square feet and all I did was insulate and seal it up as best I could myself. Monthly Hydro averages $158. Go back to natural gas? Never.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby TylerM4 » Nov 25th, 2018, 11:59 am

bob vernon wrote:I can't believe these tales on here about people taking out a 7 year old geothermal system "because it cost too much to maintain." What maintenance does it take other than adding a small amount of liquid in the first few years? The installer comes by in the fall and checks it out and might give it a top up. It has run flawlessly for years. The vertical pipes are pro-rated warranteed for 50 years. My geothermal system was $19,800 and included adding a cold air return duct to make the circulation better. Our house is 3,008 square feet and all I did was insulate and seal it up as best I could myself. Monthly Hydro averages $158. Go back to natural gas? Never.



Your experience seems to have differed.

Here's what I can share from my boss's experience:
- One of the selling features for his home was the green aspect which included Geothermal hearing/cooling, efficient home design/materials, and even a wastewater recycling system.
- Right from day #1 costs to operate were way higher than expected. $400/month in electric bills during the winter.
- High bills and his complaints resulted in service calls. Never was a problem found. There is no guarantee of efficiency/costs. Every call resulted in more costs because nothing was found/proven to be wrong.
- He had a couple of failures that required repairs. My info here is slim but I think in one case it was the pump, in another case he had a leak. Materials were covered under warranty (10 year i think) but labor was not. Even with materials covered the repair bills were costly. It was after these repairs he decided he needed to switch systems.

He switched over to Natural Gas high efficiency and has seen his energy costs drop by over $100/month. His situation was a little unique in that his home had gas but it was only being used for hot water. The administration fees for his gas service cost him more than the gas prior to the heating system change.

He figures he's on track to pay off the switch to NG in 5 years. He made sure to get a 10 year end to end warranty with the new system, and has stopped complaining about the situation so I haven't heard anything further in more than a year.

Otherwise, I have another acquaintance who has geothermal. His experience has been better, but he still feels his costs are higher than he was expecting. Told me he wouldn't invest in it again - not worth the money.

You'd be loosing money to switch at this point. Nobody is recommending you do. When gas gets expensive again, watch the tables turn.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby dontrump » Nov 25th, 2018, 8:44 pm

bob vernon wrote:I can't believe these tales on here about people taking out a 7 year old geothermal system "because it cost too much to maintain." What maintenance does it take other than adding a small amount of liquid in the first few years? The installer comes by in the fall and checks it out and might give it a top up. It has run flawlessly for years. The vertical pipes are pro-rated warranteed for 50 years. My geothermal system was $19,800 and included adding a cold air return duct to make the circulation better. Our house is 3,008 square feet and all I did was insulate and seal it up as best I could myself. Monthly Hydro averages $158. Go back to natural gas? Never.



My geo thermo Vertical loop alone estimate to drill in todays costs is $25000 you say your whole system was $19800 after 20% rebate so $24K no rebate? When? like 1996? to build a new house today a regular hi efficient gas and hi seer ac system is over 24K
somehow I don't think we are talking about comparable systems as mine is like I said close to $45-50K TO INSTALL NEW
that's why no one uses them ; almost 100% more cost to install + 35 years later you may break even and A system like mine is super expensive and complicated to service and repair

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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby bob vernon » Nov 27th, 2018, 7:41 am

I just don't get what all these maintenance and repair costs are about. I pay for a service call once a year. In the the first few years there is a small amount of expansion in the ground loop and that requires a small amount of liquid to be added. Other than that there is just about zero maintenance to be done. Clean the filter. That's it. These big numbers for maintenance just aren't there. The original cost was nowhere near what is being talked about here. Installed 2009 and we've had no trouble.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby TylerM4 » Nov 27th, 2018, 9:26 am

bob vernon wrote:I just don't get what all these maintenance and repair costs are about. I pay for a service call once a year. In the the first few years there is a small amount of expansion in the ground loop and that requires a small amount of liquid to be added. Other than that there is just about zero maintenance to be done. Clean the filter. That's it. These big numbers for maintenance just aren't there. The original cost was nowhere near what is being talked about here. Installed 2009 and we've had no trouble.


This is like saying "My Mercedes has been fine". Just because you haven't had a problem doesn't mean nobody else will. Any way you look at it, a more expensive system will be more expensive to fix or maintain. It's not like you can claim that a Geothermal system is less complicated and/or involves less parts that could fail.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby bob vernon » Nov 27th, 2018, 12:42 pm

So, just what are all these problems and maintenance issues that other geothermal owners have had? My system isn't an expensive Mercedes. I find out on this forum that it's very cheap. Like a Ford Pinto.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby TylerM4 » Nov 27th, 2018, 1:47 pm

bob vernon wrote:So, just what are all these problems and maintenance issues that other geothermal owners have had? My system isn't an expensive Mercedes. I find out on this forum that it's very cheap. Like a Ford Pinto.



There haven't been any claims that it's expensive for everyone. Only a couple stories shared and some common sense around more cost to buy = more cost to maintain and repair.

Compared to a standard HVAC system you have a Mercedes. Perhaps the cheap model, but still a Mercedes :130:
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby dontrump » Nov 27th, 2018, 7:02 pm

bob vernon wrote:I just don't get what all these maintenance and repair costs are about. I pay for a service call once a year. In the the first few years there is a small amount of expansion in the ground loop and that requires a small amount of liquid to be added. Other than that there is just about zero maintenance to be done. Clean the filter. That's it. These big numbers for maintenance just aren't there. The original cost was nowhere near what is being talked about here. Installed 2009 and we've had no trouble.

LOL installed in 2009 at a government rebate of 20% on a small system fast forward to reality and a larger system like mine in todays costs is as said 45-50K ;; the 3 line 235 foot deep vertical loop estimate I just got is $25 alone
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby ShannonG » Nov 28th, 2018, 8:21 am

I always thought geothermal loops went out horizontally, several feet below the surface. When did they start going vertical? Drilling down a couple hundred feet would be expensive.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby dontrump » Nov 28th, 2018, 8:58 am

ShannonG wrote:I always thought geothermal loops went out horizontally, several feet below the surface. When did they start going vertical? Drilling down a couple hundred feet would be expensive.



Vertical loops are way more effective but expensive ,mine is 235 deep by 3 loop lines
its done when there is not enough land to build a efficient horizontal line
Mine was a corix leased system and I want to buy it out so I needed to know what they cost
A fellow in Enderby that does such things quoted me $25000 to drill the same loop system as mine
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby Glacier » Nov 28th, 2018, 9:07 am

ShannonG wrote:I always thought geothermal loops went out horizontally, several feet below the surface. When did they start going vertical?

Since at least the year 1215.

Your neighbours would not be very happy about being drilled under, nor would the city like the idea of water and sewer lines being drilled through.
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Re: Heating the home - electric vs. natural gas?

Postby LANDM » Nov 28th, 2018, 9:10 am

ShannonG wrote:I always thought geothermal loops went out horizontally, several feet below the surface. When did they start going vertical? Drilling down a couple hundred feet would be expensive.


Can be either, dependent on situation. From Geotility website:
Horizontal loops are often considered when adequate land surface is available. Pipes are placed in trenches, in lengths that range from 100 to 400 feet.

Vertical loops are the ideal choice when available land surface is limited. Drilling equipment is used to bore small-diameter holes from 75 to 300 feet deep.
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