Nathan Poss, front, and his business partner, Robert Konrad, perform a test of the geo-exchange system they installed at Clay Trevenen's home. Together, Poss and Konrad own PK Geothermal, an Erie-based company that only installs geo-exchange heating and cooling systems.

Photo by Collin Smith

Nathan Poss, front, and his business partner, Robert Konrad, perform a test of the geo-exchange system they installed at Clay Trevenen's home. Together, Poss and Konrad own PK Geothermal, an Erie-based company that only installs geo-exchange heating and cooling systems.

Local man uses geo-exchange system for new home

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About 6,400 feet of high-density plastic coils line the bottom of this 7-foot deep pit outside a new home under construction off state Highway 394. The coils are part of a geo-exchange system to heat and cool the house and are some of the first of their kind in Moffat County.

Clay Trevenen, 39, smiles about possibilities as he looks out at 6,400 feet of high-density plastic coils laid out in a 7-foot deep pit next to his partially-built new home in Moffat County.

The coils are part of a geo-exchange heating and cooling system - also known as geothermal - that will help the environment.

But green energy wasn't the focus.

What makes Trevenen smile is possibly saving $300 to $500 in utility costs each year.

"That's more what I'm thinking about," he said.

Trevenen's home is one of the first in the county with a geo-exchange system.

The concept is simple, if the actual process is less so.

High-density coils are buried deep enough in the ground to be past the frost point in winter, where the ground is a consistent 55 degrees year-round. The constant temperature allows a chemical solution inside the coils to collect or dump heat.

A heat pump then either moves warmth from the coils into the home to heat it, or moves heat from the home and into the coils to cool it.

"You're just taking the heat out of the ground and putting it in your house, or you're taking the heat out of the house and putting into the ground," Trevenen said.

Robert Konrad, 31, co-owner of PK Geothermal out of Erie, helped install the system Wednesday.

The market has been strong enough that he and his partner, Nathan Poss, install geo-exchange systems full-time.

"We were home-builders for a long time, and then we got into alternative forms of energy," he said. "It was interesting at first because it was new - you get to learn about something."

The technology has come to a point that it's an "extremely strong" option for consumers, Konrad added.

There is a higher capital cost to install a geo-exchange system versus a standard system, Konrad said, but there currently is a federal tax credit of 30 percent of a geo-exchange system's install price.

Usage and maintenance savings also help overcome the extra upfront expenses, he said. For instance, the coils have a 200-year lifespan and are guaranteed for 50 years.

"All the maintenance is in checking the air filter, just like you would on a normal furnace," Konrad said.

The consumer attraction is what caught Trevenen's eye, but others said geo-exchange offers a variety of benefits, from the relatively small scale of heating single homes, to potentially solving global political issues.

Poss' father, Dave Poss, thinks geo-exchange technology could be the key to America's energy independence.

Dave Poss, who is the state distributor for ECONAR, a company that sells the heat pumps necessary for moving heat between a home and the underground coils, said the technology seems to have been put on the backburner because it is less tangible than other alternative energies.

"Society feels good about things it can see or touch," Dave Poss said. "Like the sun or the wind, we can feel those things, but people disregard what's under their feet."

Solar and wind power work only when conditions are right. If it's a calm night, no one can turn on his or her heater, Dave said.

"If we're going to be energy independent, then Obama should give tax credits for people to retrofit existing homes and buildings," he said. "Then, we could be energy independent tomorrow. The technology is there."

Comments

hondojim 5 years, 4 months ago

Why is going to a different form of heating going to make us energy independent? I think that we get our electricity and heat from domestic coal and natural gas, unless I missed something and we are now importing these sources from Saudia Arabia, Iran and Venezuela. Global energy independence comes from not importing energy sources, but using ours. There is a difference between "green" and global energy independence, wake up.

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tmartdesign 5 years, 3 months ago

In response to hondojim: Geothermal heat pump systems do use electicity...but only to move energy that is naturally occurring underground. This energy is everywhere and is free! While it's true that most natural gas, coal and propane comes from domestic sources, think of all of the additional energy it takes to extract, refine and transport these fuels. Why not move to something better like geothermal? The green component probably is a stronger argument for geothermal than energy independence, but having more geothermal in this country would help...it certainly wouldn't hurt!

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