Sunday, June 24, 2012

Geothermal - numbers continued - Leo J Roth

Somehow in my previous post I forgot to talk about the geothermal incentives offered by the federal government, and the financing available.

Because geothermal is very energy efficient (400% efficient) the federal government offers a 30% tax credit for the total cost of installation! A credit is where the government just gives you the money back (much more generous than a deduction). In addition, NY state offers very generous financing through NYSERDA, which consists of 3.5% financing for 15 years as an unsecured loan, or 3% financing for 15 years as a secured loan (your house being the collateral). Both of the other companies (that I didn't go with) offered the NYSERDA loans, but Leo J Roth did not.

I thought this was going to be a deal breaker, but they actually came back to me with an even better offer through a 3rd party home improvement loan lender. This financing was a little bit odd to me. It was described as a 7 year, 0% interest "same as cash" loan. Sounds awesome, right? The catch was that there is a 10% up front "fee". Basically, you're paying the interest first. If you do the math you end up paying about the same amount of interest as a 3% loan, so it was still a great deal!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Geothermal - The numbers and the contractor - Leo J Roth Rochester, NY (review)

When my wife and I bought our new house in Dec. 2011 the one number that really stood out to us was the heating bill. The previous owners claimed that they averaged $360/month, for a total of $4320/year! After living in the house starting in December and seeing heating oil bills totaling $1200 we realized that there must be a better way.

After calling and making appointments, and getting estimates with three companies, we decided to go with the Leo J Roth (their green/geothermal division) company from Rochester, NY (actually Webster, NY). All three estimates were within 5% of each other, Leo J Roth had the best plan, and really seemed to have spent the most time coming up with a rough design for the system. Of the three, Leo J Roth had the engineer (Patrick Ford), which to me, seemed the most knowledgeable, and detail oriented. He walked us through the design, and was very patient with our unending questions. Pat also explained to me that he himself would be the excavator operator when putting in the horizontal loop fields, and that he had dug hundreds of these fields. It seemed to me that the engineer on the project would be the perfect person to dig your loop fields. If anyone would know how to dig the fields it should be the engineer.

The whole Leo J Roth team was extremely responsive to any questions we had. They typically got back to us within a few minutes to questions I sent them via email, text messaging, or phone calls. One Sunday I sent a text message to the lead manager at 8pm, and got an answer within 5 minutes. These guys seemed always available! One of the companies we worked with took a few days, to a few weeks to get a response via email, or voice mail.

According to all of the estimates our calculated payback time was about 5-7 years, with an annual savings of about 60-70% our existing heating cost. This was assuming that heating oil prices continued to rise, the heat load calculations were accurate, electricity prices continued to increase at the historical rate, and the historical weather patterns continued. These calculations assumed that I was replacing an existing heating system, which I wasn't. None of the calculations used the cost of borrowing the money, and the cost of repairing the lawn after the job was completed. After adding in these additional factors, and removing the replacement cost of existing heater I came up with a more accurate payback time of about 9-10 years. This was still a worthwhile payback as we were planning on living in this house for at least 20 years. After 25 years it was estimated we will have saved about $100k (assuming oil prices continue to rise). Considering these savings, and the addition of air conditioning to our house, geothermal seemed like a great investment!

This is what my wonderful back yard used to look like.


Next up, the big dig, the rocks, and the duct installation!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Geothermal - Introduction

Coming out of the 2011-2012 heating season (paying $3.60 a gallon for heating oil) in our new house my wife and I decided it was time (after only one heating season) to look into alternative heating sources.  We started searching for outside wood burning furnaces when we came upon an ad for geothermal heating. The ad sounded great, green heat, no combustibles, ultra efficient; sounded perfect. 

I'd like to take a week or two to blog about our experience with researching, and deciding to go with geothermal, and show the process of installing the system. I'll be posting the numbers that I came up with which showed why geothermal made sense in our case.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Flocks of Phlox - LeRoy, NY


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