Happy, happy, happy with my first electric bill!!!!

Discussion in 'Geothermal Heat Pump Testimonials' started by sunnyflies, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    We just got our first electric bill and heating the house during January and February which are traditionally our worst winter months only cost us $657.40 - or $328.70 a month. I can't believe it!!!!!! I am very pleased as mine is not an air tight well insulated, modern house. In fact, it is a leaky antique house with unknown insulation values and in serious need of re-caulking.

    I had been wondering what our cost was going to be now that we have an all electric system and have been anxiously awaiting our first bill. Especially because my husband has been quite sceptical about getting an expensive geothermal system which he was certain wouldn't work and/or would cost a fortune to run. He's astonished, in a good way, although he won't admit to it yet.

    Our oil bills had been running between $4499 and $5721 annually for heat and hot water (no a/c) using our inefficent old hot air furnace which was put in in 1984. We switched over to geothermal just after Jan 1st, 2010 after skating by the fall and early winter on a loaner high efficency propane gas H/A furnace courtesy of our wonderful geo installer, as our oil furnace had been red tagged last spring.

    I have been thrilled with the warmth and comfort of the new geothermal system - husband notices it too, but was concerned it might be expensive to run because my house is 170 years old and has lots of places for cold air to come in - like from under the baseboards in my kid's rooms which can get drafty in an east wind. I have been keeping an eye on the thermostat which is set at 70º. I've noticed the system usually runs in stage 1, rarely upping to stage 2 and has only used the auxillary coils when the system was first turned on and the house had been without heat for the day while the installation was going in. I hoped from that that our bill would be reasonable, but wasn't sure. Now, I know and it's a good feeling.

    I hope that people with leaky older houses like mine ignore all the naysayers who tell them not to go with geothermal, look hard to find a good installer (follow the steps posted at the top of the forum) and put one in. They won't regret it!
  2. jrh

    jrh Member

  3. Farmhouse

    Farmhouse New Member

    Hi sunny,

    What state are you in? I also have an old drafty house and the oil furnace kicked it in February. Now I'm considering geothermal or trenching a gas line to the curb. Although there is a good installer near me, I'm starting to get concerned about how much money I need to sink into getting it "tight" before getting the geo installed.

    I'm waiting on a quote for new Andersen windows (21 total), which I expect to be in the 15k-20k range. Next is insulating the garage ceiling (which sits under the living room), followed by possibly insulating the basement ceiling. I'm still unsure about the whole house insulation because I don't want them drilling through cement shingles (though I'm considering them doing it from the inside).

    I guess what I'm curious at finding out what your electric bills are month to month for a 'drafty' house. Can you give me any more details about the system (size, configuration, cost)?

  4. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    I will say it again. If you have a inefficient house, you need to have the most efficient heating and cooling to off set your style points.
  5. Looby

    Looby Member Forum Leader

    Congrats! Our experience is very similar to yours -- replaced an
    ancient oil/hot water heating system and even older central A/C
    with geo. We were burning about $4k/yr in oil, plus another
    $1k+/yr electric. Now, we're below $2k/yr -- for everything!

    PLUS: No combustion, no odors, no annual crap-shoot on oil
    price contracts, no noisy/rusting/ugly outdoor A/C unit -- and
    the sooty old furnace room is now a clean & cozy workshop.

    Just curious, what was your typical electric bill before geo?

  6. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Farmhouse: Sorry for not responding sooner, but I haven't been allowed to log in for several days.

    I am on LI, NY and have a WaterFurnace Envision with a closed loop system to heat our 2450 sq ft house using our existing ductwork (which needs upgrading and will get it this summer). I looked into getting Nat gas but it would have cost me $18,000 to bring it to my house, so that was out. I knew that this was going to be my one chance to get a geothermal system, so I went for it after my oil furnace was Red Tagged for a cracked heat exchanger.

    In fact, I did zero tightening, but will be doing so as I work on the house. My wonderful installer took that into account.

    I am not changing out my windows as I like old windows. Mine are sound and have been in my house for 170 years and I seriously doubt modern windows will last that long. (I have another house built in 1969 and its doublepaned Andersons are starting to go.) I do have storms over the farmhouse's windows. I have had several restoration experts tell me that my old windows made from dense, first growth wood combined with good quality storms - you can even get low-e storms - are equal to a high quality double paned modern window. Mine need to be properly re-caulked, which will be done this summer.

    My first two months using geo cost us $328 a month to heat our house - and that was January and February which were terrible here - our electric use is extra. As our oil bill used to range from $4500 to $5,700, this is an enormous savings. Once the house is caulked and I add another layer of insulation to the thin layer of rockwool we have in the attic, I am sure that number will go down. We are also putting in a solar voltaic system, which will help to offset the electric bill.

    To say we are very pleased with our new geothermal system is an understatement.
  7. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    This month's FineHomebuilding had a long article about rehabbing existing windows, you may want to check it out.
  8. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Thank you, I will. It's one of my favorite magazines.
  9. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    I take that back, based on Finehomebuilding's article about geothermal this month. Phooey.
  10. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Finally got to use my A/C and it works perfectly! My leaky old house gets cool almost instantly. I turned it on this morning about 10:30 am just as the temperature started rising quickly and honestly I could feel the house chilling down right away. Talk about thrilled!

    Even my husband has been won over. He wasn't happy that I chose to put in an HVAC system with such a big upfront cost - in my area geothermal is super premium. But, let me tell you, now, he's a believer! My kids love it also. My daughter said the house was chilly earlier tonight yet it was only set at 72º, so I put it up to 74º. To my surprise, by bedtime it's back at 72º which means my air conditioning hating husband set it lower. Seems he likes feeling cool.:p

    And, all my raving about our new geothermal system has won over my contractor brother who's putting a gi-gunda one into one of his customer's houses.

    Better yet, we now have solar panels so the system isn't costing us anything to run during the day. I can watch the electric meter run backwards which is so much fun, considering we have one of the highest electric rates in the country.
  11. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    thanks sunny....you are my favorite geo owner poster.:D:D:D:D
  12. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    So sweet of you! :eek:
  13. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Solar and geothermal - what a great combination!

    We put solar panels on our barn in June to team up with out geothermal system and we just got our first electric bill since then ... 19 ¢ That was for July with its intense heat wave, during which our geothermal system kept our house delicously cool, so cool I had to use an extra blanket at night and sometimes a sweater during the day.

    My husband sure enjoyed writing out that check! :D
  14. lefty

    lefty New Member

    Century Home

    Hi SunnyFlies,

    Thanks for posting your experience with geo. We also own an old, drafty 145 year old triple brick house with no exterior wall insulation and minimal attic insulation. Our house is also about 2000 sq.ft. and we are looking to add a new addition of about 700sq.ft.

    Could you tell me the size of the geothermal unit you installed? Because of the heat loss calculations from our uninsulated masonry walls, we are being advised that we would need a 9 ton system.

    We are also doing the work necessary, window restoration, attic insulation, caulking, etc. so things will only get better than they are right now.

    We are located in a more northern climate, just north of Toronto, ON, Canada.
  15. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    I have a 6 ton unit. Our house is 2400 sq feet, made of wood with some blown in rock wool insulation in its walls. It's definitely leaky as I can feel air coming in under baseboards when the wind blows from the east. We are planning an addition - if the health department ever gives me a permit - and the unit was sized to handle the extra space.

    Has your installer done a manual J for your house? I had all sorts of sizes suggested by different installers, most of whom had not done a manual J and had simply guestimated what I might need based on the size and age of my old house. None had ever had experience with an antique house and all wanted me to tighten it up to modern standards which would probably result in the house beginning to rot as these old wood houses were designed to breathe to keep them dry. It's been just fine for 170 years and I certainly don't want to be the person responsible for it starting to fall apart.

    I decided to keep looking for the right installer, one with a lot of geo experience and who was willing to work thoughtfully with a very old house.

    Good luck.
  16. raymondd

    raymondd New Member

    Hi sunnyflies, I also live on long island and have been considering installing a Geo system. Who did your installation?
  17. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sunny's installer

    S.A. Fink Associates

    I'm working with them on a long distance consulting job, also on LI.

    Look at steps to reduce the load - it'll pay back in reduced installation and operation cost
  18. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    raymondd - I did use S.A.Fink as engineer said, and have recommended him to others. He's based in Haupaugue, but I've seen his trucks all over.

    I hope you will go with a geothermal system. Mine is a pleasure - plus I have no oil or gas bills anymore which is an enormous savings. I think LIPA is still offering $1000 rebate on geothermal installations along with a reduced rate during the heating season.
  19. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sunnyflies has had a great experience, but the decision to go geo on LI, IMO, hinges upon availability of natural gas.

    High LIPA electricity unit costs coupled with reasonable NG costs make it hard for geo to overcome its first cost through operating cost savings if NG is already present or nearby.

    If NG is not an option, geo has the potential to compete very well against oil and propane, provided an effective loopfield is feasible to install.
  20. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Solar is a good option to combine with geothermal

    There is always the option to put in solar voltaic panels to generate power to run or help offset the geothermal system. We did that last June and just added on to our system this May so that we now have a 9k system that generates close to 10k.

    Our local power company offers a rebate program for people installing solar panels which, combined with sizable tax credits, made it do-able. Last year's rebate rate was larger, but it still was worth going ahead this year.

    Natural gas on the other hand, is not always available here, or cheap to bring to a house. It would have cost me a minimum of $18,000, and probably would have been more. Then, I would have had to pay gas bills for years once it was in. Sunshine is free:) The panels are even producing power today when it's overcast.

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