Geothermal Systems: A Smart Choice for Historic Home
THROUGHOUT THE PAST YEAR, TWJ articles about Brandywine Valley Heating and Air Conditioning (Brandywine Valley) have focused on the use of geothermal heating and cooling in commercial and residential settings. This article highlights the use of a geothermal system for a unique home.
Case Example: 19th Century Farmhouse
Kate and Seth Whitelaw’s 162-year-old manor farmhouse in East Bradford Township resides on beautifully landscaped grounds.
With 30-inch-thick stone walls, this house was a challenge to heat and cool comfortably. The 19th century stone and plaster construction is largely uninsulated with only the attic and parts of the one wing brought to current standards.
Whitelaw’s 19th-Century Farmhouse
During the heating season, the Whitelaws were spending more than $7,000 to heat their home with fuel oil. In addition, the old boiler system was not meeting their comfort needs. The Whitelaws wanted to reduce their monthly heating and cooling costs and to improve their comfort without making any major renovations or alterations to their home. Strong proponents of recycling old homes in lieu of complete demolition and new construction, the Whitelaws wanted to demonstrate that an old home could reduce its carbon footprint without losing its character. After meeting with Rick Redmond of Brandywine Valley, they became convinced that installing a properly designed geothermal system was the right path to follow.
After careful analysis, Brandywine Valley decided that the home needed a ten-ton capacity loop with 1,650 feet of vertical bores. Last summer, the boreholes were drilled beside the house. Brandywine Valley installed a Waterfurnace Envision air handler in the attic of the west wing and a small amount of ductwork. The existing central air conditioning system was discarded, as the geothermal system would now fulfill the cooling function. The installation of the geothermal system took six days to complete.
To enable the Whitelaws to have separate temperature controls on each floor, Rick also suggested a zoning system to work in conjunction with the geothermal system. Consequently, the Whitelaws now enjoy enhanced comfort and lower heating bills.
The geothermal system will provide a high level of comfort and cost savings all year. The Whitelaws look forward to a more comfortable house during the upcoming hot, humid summer. The new, variable- speed system will provide air conditioning much more quietly than the previous central air unit.
Due to the tremendous efficiency of the geothermal system, the Whitelaws project savings of approximately 37% annually on their heating bill, which could result in a savings of $2,600, based on last year’s temperatures and bills. With the additional sa vings on air conditioning and zone control, the Whitelaws expect to get a full return on their investment in eight years (at current energy prices). The return on investment is further enhanced by the 30% Federal Tax Credit that is currently available for geothermal installations.
The Whitelaws are enjoying the full comfort of a geothermal system and much reduced operating costs without any major alterations to their home and property. Their experience is a solid endorsement for the concept that a geothermal system is effective for virtually any household, and is ideally suited to the rural environment.
If you are interested in learning more about geothermal and how it can reduce your home’s energy cost, contact Brandywine Valley Heating & Air Conditioning at 610-692-3900 or www.bvhvac.com.