Illinois New GSHP install near Quad Cities, IL

Discussion in 'Geothermal Heat Pump Testimonials' started by cmonkey, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member

    We had a retrofit GSHP installed back at the end of August 2014 and have been absolutely loving it so far. We switched from natural gas and central AC unit.

    House was built in 1942, single story 1300 sq feet, unfinished basement with garage at the same level as the basement. Absolutely minimal insulation - we found rotted balsam wool insulation in the part we have redone. The house is super-drafty, so I have been EXTREMELY impressed so far. We are planning to gut the entire house in a couple of years and seal the heck out of everything.

    System is a 3 ton GeoStar Aston Series 38 with DSH, Intellistart with 1200 feet of horizontal loop bored (not trenched) 15 feet under my backyard. We have about 900-1000 feet from end to end. They also redid all the ducting and even custom made a couple of parts to optimize airflow through the system. Also did all return ducting. The unfinished basement helped tons!

    We used the cooling a bit in early September and it was outstanding - so quiet and absolutely no bump in our energy bill, unlike when we used the old AC.

    I am more excited about the heating that it is providing. Not only did we disconnect the gas (saving 25 bucks a month there) but the geo is running so much more efficiently than the old system. I have been tracking our whole house KWH for the past 2-3 weeks during this cold snap and we were averaging about 55-65 whole house when temps were in the 20s and 30s. Now that we are in single digits and teens, we used about 75 KWH yesterday. That is with whole house electric, including water heater, 2 fridges, freezer and a well pump all drawing. I write down KWH each morning when I wake up.

    Our average non-peak electrical usage ( like May, June) is about 650 KWH with everything but heating/cooling, which is about 25 a day. Means I am heating my home on 50 KWH in an uninsulated home in single digit temps. With 7 cents/KWH during the coldest times of the year, my heating bill will only be $100-$120 or so, total bill less than $200. Its more difficult to beat a natural gas bill, especially in our area, but we seem to be doing it. Our installer told us he could get us 45-55 bucks a month average HVAC bill, and so far we are holding to that. Only difference is he said we'd get that AFTER we insulated, not before. I would bet we are under $1000 HVAC bill this year. Last year our heating bills were nearly $200 for gas, $275 for the entire energy bill each month. Super happy so far and will keep everyone posted on how the system is performing. I am planning to implement a WEL setup sometime next year.

    So far the system has been running in stage 1 down to about 15 F or so no problem, which is unbelieveable to me. I adjust the swing temp to 1 degree, so it runs for like 6 hours before shutting down. Now that we are getting to single, the last couple nights its been running in stage 2 for about half the time. I have not seen it hit aux power yet, but it could be in the wee hours of the morning. I usually watch it from about 5:30 to 6:15 or so and it has been in stage 1/2. Hasn't been more than 1 degree below the target yet when I wake up!
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
  2. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member

    We finally got our November bill and I am very happy with it. Turns out that MidAmerican Energy does graduated billing rates during the winter months. So the first 750 KWH I was billed at 7 cents a KW. This is my normal monthly usage without heating.

    So basically my entire "heating bill" was billed 3.5 cents/KWH. VERY HAPPY. It cost about $40 to heat my home in November, even with the cold snap. Compared to about $65 last year on NG, and was 5 degrees warmer on average.

    Going forward, they have changed the point at which the price drops (from 750 to 1000), and also hiked the rate about 1 cent.

    Total bill was $112 for whole house, whole month of November. 1564 KWH.

    Looking forward to a warm, cheap December...
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
  3. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

  4. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member

    Coldest night yet last night, got down to -3 here, and winds were up a bit.

    The geo wasn't actually able to keep up all night, I watched the indoor temp slowly ticking down even after aux heat did kick in around 10 pm. It must have ran all night like that and shut itself down or something this morning, I woke up to 60 F inside (therm is at 65 F), so 5 degrees under setting, and it was running in stage 1 only. By the time I left, it was back on stage 3 and had warmed up a bit, so it seems it can keep it in the 60s at least.

    I was monitoring supply temps, and I only got about a 2-3 F boost in temps from the aux heat. That seems SUPER low, considering the energy draw, but maybe I am expecting too much? Or maybe its some sort of variable aux heat that doesn't ramp up right away....that would explain why it was in stage 1 when I woke up. It had ramped up to full aux draw, reached themostat setting sometime in the early morning, shut down, and had just turned on again. I am hoping that is the case!
  5. heatoldhome

    heatoldhome Geo Student Forum Leader

    How big of a auxiliary strip do you have?
    How many watts?
    Was is sized to just do the aux heating or the whole home?
  6. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member

    I think we have two 5KW strips for a total of 10KW.

    Not sure on the sizing question, but the design temp for the system was -4 F.
  7. heatoldhome

    heatoldhome Geo Student Forum Leader

    Some people want the aux to be able to heat the whole house in the event of a heat pump failure or shutdown.

    Some people only want the aux sized to carry the load that the heat pump can't on the coldest days of the year.

    10kwh is about 34,000 btuh
  8. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member

    I guess I would expect, with the rest of the system being so sophisticated, that the aux heat would be variable as well, sort of like dialing up and down a stovetop electric coil from 1-10. That would sort of explain only getting a 2 degree increase initially. I never checked after it had been running a while.

    It's either variable, or something isn't working right, because I would expect more than 2 degree from even a 5 KW strip from what I have read.
  9. heatoldhome

    heatoldhome Geo Student Forum Leader

    Some of these have multiple elements. It's possible you have a bad element or 2.

    Do you have any way to measure the amp draw on it?

    My guess is that the cost to savings ratio is not high enough to warrant veritable auxiliary heating.

    Is the heat pump compressor running while auxiliary heat is on?
  10. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    often auxiliary heaters are multistage. how many degrees they add is going to depend on CFm and kws. If the coldest day last year was -3 and your system was designed for -4 then your designer oversized quite a bit so auxiliary shouldn't be necessary very often. Try turning off the power to the unit and then back on. It sounds like a lock out.
  11. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member


    No, I do not have a current meter, but am thinking of getting one. I will be monitoring electric meter this week with the cold temps. Yes, the heat pump is running in stage 2 while the aux is on. I have noticed that stage 2 heat pump gives me about 2-3 F bump in temp, and then aux gives another 2-3 bump in temp.

    The coldest we get is about -5 to -10 below on average, one or two times during the winter. Gonna be -15 this week.

    What is a lock out?
  12. heatoldhome

    heatoldhome Geo Student Forum Leader

    Lockout is a safety shut down of the gshp.
    Is monitors it self and shuts down and locks out to protect itself. Aux will keep running in a lockout.

    Sounds like you system is not in lockout.
  13. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member

    Thanks heatoldhome. I am continuing this in my other thread under 'general discussions'...
  14. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Get a cheap clamp on analog amp meter at Radio Shack while they are still with us.

    Steph and I believe, tools and schools rule, just behind food and rent.

  15. smokingthemidwest

    smokingthemidwest New Member

    Hello everybody, just checking into getting geothermal. Cmonkey I also live in north western Illinois. I was wondering who did the install and if you were happy with it. Thank you
  16. tstolze

    tstolze Member

    My thoughts are the added temp is coming from the DSH shutting down, I would guess the strips are not operating at all.
  17. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member

    tstolze, We were able to get it fixed, there was a jumper wire missing on the thermostat, so essentially the aux was not running at all. Nice and warm now!

    smokingthemidwest, Hello fellow midwesterner!

    We live just south of the Quad Cities and had Doug's Heating and AC do the install. We had 3 or 4 others come out to give us quotes, but only one sent back a quote a month later. I think the others didn't take us seriously because we are 20 some years of age :(

    Doug's was great, they got the quote back to us 2 days later and have been very prompt about getting the rebate info and fixing any issues. Total cost was just about 23K for a horizontal bore, 3 ton system, plus all new ducting and the electrician costs.

    I'm not sure how far outside the area they go...where are you located?

    If you call them, ask for Chris.
  18. jarhead_jr

    jarhead_jr New Member

    Wow...glad I stumbled on this website. I am in the Quad Cities and we are looking at redoing our house's HVAC. Between rebates and tax credits I think I need to evaluate geo. I'd love to get rid of gas completely and save some money but wife wants to keep gas fireplace. Did MidAmerican offer a different rate for for electric only customers?
  19. cmonkey

    cmonkey New Member

    I asked about it and they do not give a different rate. However, during the winter billing months you are billed half on everything over 1000 KWH, no matter if you are all electric or not. Most people with gas do not use that much electric to benefit.

    Our largest bill so far was for January at $148 whole house and our house is not insulated.

    Right now, it will be hard to save money switching from gas. I think we are spending about the same. Look down the road a decade and its a different story!

    How much land do you have available?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2015

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