“A straw vote only shows which way the hot air blows.” – O. Henry

grill8bSomeone just asked us how we made the long journey from propane powered radiant
heating to a low-velocity geothermal hot-air system for Dash Landing.

Fair question.

* Geothermal was approximately +10% more expensive than the baseline propane radiant system, but when you consider the 30% tax benefit, the savings are substantial.  Now factor in the annual estimated heating cost — $810 per year for the geothermal system — and it was a no-brainer.

* Articles like this one, this one and this one got our attention.  We’re not designing to passive haus standards, but it’s definitely going to be tight and well-insulated.  And we’ve heard enough about “thermal lag” to worry about it.

* Going into the project, we were determined to get radiant.  But as we did our research, we were surprised at how “polarized” people felt about it.  Some of Steve’s co-workers with radiant heating feel that it’s right up there with “sliced toast.”  Others told us to avoid it at all costs.  And believe it or not, as we were discussing the decision on the Sugarloaf chair lift one weekend, a passenger turned to us and said “I hate my radiant system.”  Needless to say, not everyone thinks it’s worth the additional cost.

* Did we mention that air-conditioning and humidification come as part of the deal?  The same equipment that uses geothermal energy to heat the house essentially “reverses” itself to cool the house in the summer.  Hard to imagine that we’d ever want central air in Maine, but tossed in as part of the deal?  Yes, please.  And the dehumidifier in the summer is going to be fabulous.

* In fairness, the Daiken Altherma system that we talked about in this post was really intriguing and provides many of the same benefits.  But having a portion of the operating unit outside the house was a show-stopper.  Just one more thing to worry about and shovel around in the winter.

* Green, yes.  It also hedges us against fossil fuel price inflation.  And if electricity ever jumps dramatically, we’ll add solar panels to the house.  (We’re running a conduit to the roof during construction for the wires.)

* Our last hurdle was worries about noise and hot-air blasts.  But after visiting a few different houses with different installers, it’s no longer a concern.  The units seem to run quietly and when installed correctly, you can barely feel the air moving out of the grates.

Rob and Will have already found a chase for duct work to the 2nd floor of the house.  And over the next couple of weeks, they’ll work to find inconspicuous places for the vents and returns.

Definitely a big change from where we started, but we’re convinced that geothermal is the right way to go.

2 Comments on ““A straw vote only shows which way the hot air blows.” – O. Henry

  1. Pingback: Our furnace is white. And other revelations. | A House In A Field

  2. Pingback: The First 90 Days. | A House In A Field

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