Vanessa and Michel in Hamilton

Vanessa and Michel in Hamilton

“Climate change is the most pressing issue
of our time,” say schoolteachers with geothermal

Vanessa and Michel R. are schoolteachers who live with one daughter near Hamilton, Ontario. Michel teaches high school science and physics and says “I’ve been telling the class that climate change is a big problem and everything has to go electric and renewable. So I wanted to learn about what it would take for us to go zero emissions in our own lives, in or own house. I was sure that you could be carbon neutral and live a good life. At first I didn’t know if geothermal was a practical solution, but then I started looking into it and I think I’ve become a geothermal expert.”

“He lives for sustainability,” says Vanessa. “He’s in charge of the Ecoteam at school.”

Geothermal Home

“It’s true,” says Michel. “If I have any spare time I spend it on this, it’s a huge focus for me. I like to design projects for students based on real world stuff, things that we can actually do. As I became more interested in geothermal I connected with Gaston Minetti at Green Method Energy Systems in Ancaster. He has been so helpful and our home is now a project that I can use for the students. We crunched the numbers and found out pretty quickly that geothermal is by far the best thing you can put into a building. It would give us heating, cooling, hot water…a COP of 4.0 or 4.5 compared to less than 1.0 for our gas furnace.”

“We love the neighbourhood, so I don’t think we’re moving any time soon. People spend $50k to add a deck. We thought about that and it was easy to justify the investment…We financed the project and with the utility savings, we’re well ahead of the interest.” They have also given consideration to installing solar panels on their roof.

“Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. And it’s also a quality of lifestyle choice,” says Vanessa. We love our 21st century digital life, especially if it can be grounded in nature. Geothermal is from Pachamama.” Vanessa’s ancestry is Peruvian. ‘Pachamama’ means ‘Mother Earth’ “It’s like getting a big hug from Mother Earth.”

“It’s cool in the summer and warm in winter,” she says. “And I feel like the air isn’t as dry. I used to get nosebleeds before, and I don’t get them now.”

Their system includes a five ton variable speed WaterFurnace Series 7 heat pump and two geothermal wells in the yard, each about 450 feet deep. The variable speed is the latest improvement. “It’s better than two stages which are either 60% speed or 100%,” says Michel. “This one has 12 speeds, providing stable, efficient performance. It runs continuously at about 41 watts, then ramps up as needed. We save on the cost of our electric water heater and we also replaced a 12 SEER air conditioning unit. The geothermal is four times more efficient than that. Our AC bill was about $40 for the whole summer.”

“The geothermal was a good decision for us,” says Vanessa. ““When you give someone a hug you are not only taking warmth from them, you are giving warmth too.”

The OGA is an affiliated association of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI)