Significant Cost Savings After Oil Replaced With Geothermal on Farm Property
Stratford, Buchanan & Hall, Murray Schlotzhauer, Rose Anderson.
In the winter of 2006 Murray Schlotzhauer received a home heating bill of more than $800 one month and began pondering the possibility that his oil furnace was not his friend. Then he noticed a mess on the basement floor, wiped it up, and realized that the black substance on the mop was oil.
He suspected it was leaking out of a crack in the firepot. After the last fuel bill, he didn’t want to mention this to his wife, Heather, but the mopping up soon became too frequent. It was time for a conversation about how they were heating their country place near Stratford, Ontario.
“I’m just a poor hog farmer so I’ve got to watch my pennies,” says Murray. “At one time I sat on the insurance board and I learned how many leaky oil tanks there were out there. People said geothermal created nice even heat; and provides air conditioning too.”
A Stratford company called Buchanan & Hall helped them verify that geothermal would be a good investment for their property. The company used a mini-excavator to dig some 5-foot deep trenches and a header pit in the field near the house. They layed tubing in the trenches and connected them to a 5-ton geothermal heat pump.
Thousands of geothermal systems have been installed for decades all over North America. It’s a clean energy technology, based on the principle that the temperature underground is warmer than the air above ground in the winter, and cooler during the summer. This creates an inexpensive renewable energy opportunity.
A geothermal heat pump helps collect and intensify the ground warmth or cooling energy, using a very small amount of electricity. It creates luxurious, healthy indoor air quality very affordably, while eliminating most of the system’s greenhouse gas footprint.
“It’s highly efficient because it has electronic variable speed technology. It doesn’t keep blasting on or suddenly shut off,” says Murray. “The heat is lovely. Heather especially likes it because she’s sensitive to temperature changes. If you have the thermostat set for 72 degrees, it will always be around 72.”
“Usually with my oil furnace they came every year to do an annual servicing, and then often, once more to fix something. After two years with the geothermal system I phoned Buchanan & Hall and asked about it. They sent someone over to look at the pressure levels and I received a bill for about $100. Since then, nothing. It hasn’t needed service. It just keeps on working year after year.”
Rose Anderson, Engineer and Principal at Buchanan & Hall says that when properly installed, geothermal systems don’t usually require maintenance. “They can be checked every few years, but it’s simple technology that lasts a long time.” Ground loop fields last 25-50 years and ground source heat pumps last 20-30 years. Modern systems are equipped with internet hookups so they can be monitored without even being on site. The numbers generally remain constant and systems rarely need attention.
What about cost? “Well now I spend about $350 on electricity for heating and cooling, compared with $800 or so previously for oil. This is a much better situation. Because don’t forget,” says Murray with a twinkle in his eye, “I’m just a poor hog farmer.”
Murray’s story on video
Installer Buchanan & Hall