Geothermal home leads the way to the future
Former Coolfont owner Sam Ashelman and contractor Wayne Omps of Colonial Village Industries, Inc. have created a geothermal demonstration home. People will be able to see geothermal technology first-hand.
The home is located in Spring Brook Estates near Berkeley Springs. Ashelman hopes to soon start tracking the home's energy usage.
This is the second home that Omps has built for Ashelman in the past two years that doesn't use fossil fuels for heating or cooling. Omps supervised the installation of geothermal systems in both homes.
Somerset Rural Electric Cooperative designed the two buildings that are producing heating and cooling at practically no cost, Ashelman said. The demonstration home is even more insulated than the first two homes, he said.
The 2,980 square-foot two-story geothermal demonstration home includes energy-saving features such as passive solar heating from the home's southern exposure, triple-insulated windows with thermal-paned glass, one-inch thick foam super-insulation and fiberglass insulation in exterior walls and ceilings and bubble insulation in the basement floor.
The home also has four ceiling fans, air handlers in the attic and basement, water-saving toilets and faucets and energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs.
A great room with a 20 ft. ceiling has an overlook that helps to circulate air. The morning sun also warms the room through its French doors and windows. The home has very few windows on the north and none on the west to keep out the cold winter air, Omps said.
The geothermal systems and other energy-saving features involve taking a little more time during construction and doing steps in the correct order, Omps said.
"It's a very, very tight house," he said.
The demonstration house has five deep holes drilled into the ground to transfer heat from the ground. A second geothermal home that Ashelman built with Dr. Lin Wang used a 700 ft. trench with nearly a mile of special coiled pipe as a conduit for the solution.
The expense to install a geothermal system has come down, and equipment and hardware are more available. The cost of the system could pay for itself over a number of years.
"The payback is the energy savings," Omps said.
Other geothermal homes
Ashelman said Dr. Lin Wang's 3,000-sq.-ft. home cost a total of $1,492 for all electricity in 2006. The cost of heating, cooling, doing laundry, cooking and lighting was about $64 a month for each apartment in the house, Ashelman said.
Dr. Lin was enthusiastic about how the house's geothermal heating and cooling system kept the two-level, two-apartment home comfortable, even on the coldest days. When the heat comes on, it only does so for 20 minutes and to heats the entire house, she said.
Her energy cost per month was expected to decrease with the addition of energy-saving fluorescent bulbs. The home also has passive solar heating from its windows.
Gat Caperton owns the first geothermal home that Ashelman built more than ten years ago. In a recent letter to Ashelman, Caperton said the geothermal unit still works great.
He noted that his family's heating and cooling costs have dropped dramatically since they moved to the home last winter. Their previous home used heating oil, said Caperton.
How it works
Geothermal heating and
cooling systems generally use
a vertical or horizontal closed loop pipe design that absorb
the constant 50 to 55 degree heat of the earth by the pipes being packed in closely to the soil. A heat pump exchanger and compressor pump a solution through the closed system to relay the earth's heat to the house.
The heat from the earth is further warmed by the heat exchanger to heat the home. The solution in the closed loop is pumped back and forth continuously from the ground to the house to gather more heat.
Radiant heat from a system of insulated pipes in the basement floor heats the basement and first floor. Warm air is circulated through the rest of the house through ducts.
Extra heat from the system heats the water in the hot water tank. The demonstration house is cooled by flipping a switch to reverse the system.
Ashelman requested that the Morgan County Commissioners investigate using geothermal energy from the 74