Geothermal Expert Weighs In

March 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

I had the opportunity to interview Matt Miller. Mr. Miller is the Lead Design Engineer at GBL Geothermal, a Reno, NV based turn-key Geothermal Heat Pump provider.  Matt is an IGSHPA certified designer and a LEED Accredited Professional. GBL Geothermal is a company that is leading the way in clean energy technology.

The interview will be divided into two separate posts. Please sign up for an email subscription to my blog if you would like to be notified when I post the follow-up. (This is only used to notify of  future blog posts.)

Michael: Please describe the installation process for your geothermal system on a new home?

Mr. Miller: The installation process for a new home provides us with many different options and allows us to custom design a Geothermal Heat Pump (GHP) that will provide all of the heating, cooling, and hot water needs for the house or building with the lowest possible upfront cost and the most efficient operation.  Our largest market right now for new construction is new, large custom homes.  Homeowners are taking advantage of reduced construction costs due to the building slump and are still actively building.  Our sales pitch to the architect, general contractor, and owner is simple:  We can install a Geothermal system in your home at a very small upfront cost, and it will cost next to nothing to operate and maintain.  The thing that makes these systems so cost effective for these types of houses is that the homeowner is able to take 30% off of the final cost of the Geothermal Heat Pump system, including the hydronic floors and ductwork.  The hydronics in the floors and the ductwork are expensive items that are already going into the house, and subtracting 30% from these items usually pays for the additional engineering costs and burying the pipes in the yard.  We often see payback periods that are under three years in these situations.   We are doing an installation now that involves burying the pipes under 7 feet of dirt that had to be moved to make the foundation of the home.  This means that we were able to bury them with very little additional expense and effort, and the owners get to take 30% off of the costs of moving the dirt for the foundation.  As you can tell, we really push the limits of the 30% Federal Tax Credit to deliver as much savings as possible to the customer.

Michael: Existing home?

Mr. Miller: Existing homes are usually more challenging of an installation; however we have yet to come across a house that we could not retrofit.  Homes that make the most sense for a retrofit are homes larger than 3,000 sq. ft. and on a lot approaching a half acre.  Anything smaller than this we will need to take a closer look at to make sure it isn’t too difficult to install the pipes in the ground and the current bills justify a payback period that makes sense. If we find a home that is heating with propane, it is usually a no-brainer for them to switch over to geothermal because propane is so expensive and getting more so.  There are a lot of homes in the south meadows area of Reno that are in need of a furnace change out, and we are finding that they are excited about the option to do something that is green, will keep them comfortable, and is going to last for a very long time.

Michael: Is there any difference for businesses?

Mr. Miller: Light commercial businesses are the toughest of the retrofit situations.  Often times the only possibility to install the geothermal ground heat exchanger is to drill through the parking lot.  This presents logistical difficulties for the business and is an expensive option. We have seen figures that show 70% of all commercial buildings that are going to be built by 2050 have already been built.  We see this becoming a severely underserved market as companies run out of options to reduce their energy expenditures.  GBL Geothermal and other companies are working hard to commercialize GHP technology for the light commercial market.  For the larger commercial market, GHP technology is a great fit.  Hospitals, schools, military bases, and government buildings are frequent GHP customers and easy sells because they are very interested in cutting operating costs.  It is neat to see the technology working from the smallest homes to the largest buildings in the world.

GBL Geothermal is leading the way to improve the world for future generations by assisting businesses and consumers to achieve greater social and environmental responsibility.

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Michael Lemons

I will secure sustainability for your business with strategic CSR (corporate social responsibility) by making social impact integral to the unique value proposition of the company.

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