PACE + Geothermal

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ryan Green of Midwest Machinery Denver shares an overview of what PACE financing is and why it works so well for financing geothermal installations.

Duration: ~19 minutes

Ask The Presenter

After watching PACE + Geothermal, register to join the Q&A session on Dec 14th at 10AM (central) with our presenter Ryan Green and Ethan Elser Director of Corporate Development for PACE Equity. Space is limited!

About the Presenter

Ryan Green
Midwest Machinery Denver

Ryan Green has over 6 years of experience in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector, specializing in HVAC system retrofits, building energy use analysis and GeoExchange heat pump systems.

Ryan’s passion and drive for energy efficiency began only a few months after entering the HVAC industry. After witnessing the inefficiencies that exist and the potential for retrofits in aging infrastructure, his priority immediately shifted to curbing these inefficiencies. As a sales engineer for Midwest Machinery Denver, he works with consulting engineers, installing contractors, and end-users to provide cost effective and high efficiency HVAC system solutions.

Before relocating to work with Midwest Machinery Denver, Ryan was extremely active in many of the El Paso sustainability and advocacy groups and was a board member of the El Paso Chapter of American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) West Texas Chapter Regional Committee, and Eco El Paso’s Sustainable Energy Committee.

Ryan has a mechanical engineering background and plans to finish his B.S. degree program at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is also training to become an accredited Certified GeoExchange Designer through the course offered by HeatSpring. He resides in Lakewood, CO with his wife and 2-year old son and likes to spend time reconnecting with nature when he’s not out trying to save it.

LoopLink GSE Update

Monday, November 20, 2017

Our geothermal savings estimation API, LoopLink GSE, recently received an update to improve accuracy and performance. We will start with what got better then talk a little about technical changes that will impact customer implementations.

More Accurate Utility Rates

In version 1 of the GSE API, we took statewide average utility rates and applied them to any search which didn’t include custom rates. In this update, we now search (in the US only) for local electric rates and apply those to the estimate. So, if your customer searches their home address we can typically identify the correct electric utility provider and rate.

We have yet to find a house level rate lookup tool for natural gas, fuel oil or propane. So those energy prices are still a statewide or regional average depending on data availability.

We know it isn’t optimal but due to the difficulty in finding consistent information for all countries, searches outside the US will resolve to the US national average for a given energy type. As demand increases in other countries we will look to improving our defaults. For now, know that if you intend to support other countries your best results will come from asking the homeowner for utility pricing.

Know the Place?

A place object has been added to the response which enables you to identify the location we found for the estimate. At first blush this doesn’t seem that valuable. After all, the user provided the location to initiate the request. The value is that now you have a way to provide feedback to the user to ensure that the place we found was in fact the place they searched.

Technical Note: We moved geocoding attribution data into this object… it just made logical sense to tie the attribution to the result.

Updated Load Model

We are always looking at our load model and working to provide more accurate results with the limited information we require from homeowners. In this update we did more work on tweaking our advanced parameters to account for duct placement, seal and insulation in a more accurate way.

Better Security and Accounting

Version 1 was a little naive in its implementation of Cross Origin Request Sharing (CORS). We have bolstered this method and improved our ability to identify sites that are registered to make requests as well as improved the accuracy of our per site request counts. This will greatly simplify your ability to make requests against our system and allow us to provide you with more accurate usage statistics.

Logging and Retrieval

We noticed that an awful lot of homeowners come back and enter the exact same information into the system multiple times. Rather than rerun these requests we have implemented a logging function that will store requests for up to one month.

We provide a unique estimate ID with each response that can be requested directly. So, now you can get a homeowner’s email and send them a link back to their estimated savings or send a local dealer a copy of the link with the homeowner estimate.

We do not accept or store contact information so it is up to your team to fill in those blanks.

GET or POST

In LoopLink GSE 1.0 we required all requests to be sent as a POST. This is no longer the case. You may now submit your data with a GET or POST. All other request methods are restricted.

Change Your Request Structure

In our first iteration we tried to build GSE to be as permissive as possible. We allowed users to just send us a location field that contained anything from a complete address to just a postal code. The tool worked but the search was buggy and while it always returned a result, the result may have been for the wrong place entirely.

To deal with this issue, we now ask for structured requests so we can more efficiently and precisely search locations. So what was previously sent to us as:

  • location=1234 Any Street, My Town, SD 12345 USA

Is now sent as:

  • street = 1234 Any Street
  • city = My Town
  • state = SD
  • postal_code = 12345
  • country = USA

You don’t necessarily need to send us every piece of information but we we now require that you include the country in a search based strictly on postal code.

Search Coordinates Directly

In the ideal interface, your user will run a location search in the browser through Google Maps or a service like Zillow (which provides some square footage information). Which means there isn’t a good reason for us to geocode the location on our end. You can send us coordinates directly which does speed up many of our results. Just remember that any search containing ‘lat’ and ‘lon’ fields will be reverse geocoded to establish rates and other location information.

In the update, you no longer need to provide the ‘geocoded’ flag. We automatically detect the 'lat' and 'lon' fields and handle the request accordingly.

3 Ways Geothermal Design Software Improves Your Sales Pitch

Friday, November 17, 2017

Experienced geothermal contractors know the importance of building value with their prospective customers. While that value can be demonstrated in many ways, contractors should not overlook the importance of using geothermal design software to help them win the job. When you sell geothermal comfort systems, you need to show your prospects that they can make a seamless transition to the new system and that its higher cost will pay off in the long run.

Geothermal design software can do just that. Homeowners considering a geothermal system to replace an aging HVAC system want it to be easy. Your prospective customers know just enough about the technology to expect a higher level of “engineering” than in a standard HVAC system. They need confirmation that you designed and sized the job correctly without overcharging.

Using geothermal design software can demonstrate to your customers that you’re the expert and that they can trust you to simplify their transition to geothermal heating and cooling. Here are three reasons why.

1 Using Geothermal Design Software Demonstrates and Confirms You Chose the Right Unit

“Old school” or “rules-of-thumb” sizing techniques commonly employed by those without geothermal design software are problematic.

Oversizing a geothermal unit is much more expensive than oversizing a gas furnace. Doing so could price you out of a job.

Undersizing the unit will require excessive backup heat, eliminating energy savings. Your customer doesn’t want the auxiliary heat activated when it’s 35 degrees outside. Sizing a smaller unit than competitors may get you the job, but the homeowner won’t be satisfied with the purchase if energy savings are lacking. That might cost you a referral.

2Using Geothermal Design Software Demonstrates and Confirms You Sized the Loop Correctly

Rules-of-thumb don’t work for sizing loops, either.

Overestimating the loop size raises the price for the homeowner while underestimating it may cause excessive loop temperatures, reducing capacity and efficiency. Excessive loop temperatures may cause unit lock-outs and require emergency heat in the winter, or failure to cool during the summer.

Many geothermal dealers rely on loop contractors to size and build the loop. This can be risky. Even if you sub-contract the loop installation, use geothermal design software for sizing the unit and the loopfield. At the end of the day, it is the HVAC installer not the loop contractor holding the bag if a system fails.

3 Using Geothermal Design Software Demonstrates and Confirms Long Term Value

Homeowners invest in a geothermal system to save money on their utility bills. Geothermal design software demonstrates that savings with head-to-head comparisons of various options for that customer’s home. With local fuel rates and estimated efficiencies, geothermal software will be make running simple payback and 30-year saving analysis quick and easy.


About the Author

Kent Kuffner
Carrier Corp.

Kent Kuffner is the Residential Geothermal Heat Pump Product Manager for Carrier, Bryant and ICP brands. He has been in the geothermal heat pump industry since 1989 in various roles in manufacturing and distribution, and authored the geothermal heat pump chapter in the HVAC Handbook, published in 2004 by McGraw Hill. He is a member of IGSHPA and currently serves as the Chairman of the Marketing Committee.

Geothermal Can Change The World

Friday, October 6, 2017

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are sold to homeowners and building owners with a focus on how their system will improve their lives. The direct benefits and individual case is a critical part of making the sale but its not the only set of benefits you should present.

Don't forget that many consumers interested in geothermal are often just as interested in the big picture truth that geothermal can change the world. Every GSHP system improves our energy future and here are some numbers to help you back that up.

Pure Energy

The United States uses nearly 25% of the world’s energy but only represents about 5% of the world’s population. At the residential level, more than 70% of home energy use is for space conditioning and hot water generation.

A 2010 study from Oak Ridge National laboratories found that if we could convert every single family home in the U.S. to using geothermal for heating, cooling and hot water generation, it would save 4.2 Quadrillion Btus annually (4,200,000,000,000,000 Btu for those who need to see the full number...that’s a lot of commas). This is based on reducing the consumption of all forms of energy for space conditioning and hot water heating (natural gas, propane, oil, electricity, etc.).

That amount of energy is equivalent to 1.2 trillion kWh (1,230,898,494,723 kWh). For perspective, the total residential sales of electricity in the U.S. amounted to 1.4 trillion kWh in 2015. Not a bad start to reducing energy consumption.

Less Gassy

Even compared to homes using electricity for heating/cooling, geothermal emits less upstream greenhouse gases simply because it consumes less energy. Check out the estimated difference below.

Home Heating Fuel GHG Emissions (per Therm)1
Electricity 27 lb
Oil 17 lb
Propane 14 lb
Natural Gas 12.5 lb
GSHP 7 lb
11 therm = 100,000 Btu (Source Dandelion)

According to the EPA, the average house is responsible for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as the average car. Based just on the pure energy savings GSHPs clearly translate to a massive reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG).

How big?

Oak Ridge National laboratories puts the estimated CO2 reduction at 271.7 million metric tons annually. According to EPA estimates that is equivalent to taking 58 million cars off the road.

What About The Benjamins?

Oak Ridge estimates that at 100% adoption for single family homes, homeowners could save as much as $52.2 Billion dollars per year with geothermal. That is a stack of one hundred dollar bills 35 miles tall. That is A LOT of Benjamins.

Tell Everyone!

If the world really wants to take a bite out of greenhouse gases and get a handle on global energy consumption, geothermal heating and cooling brings us a long way towards that reality. Solar, wind and every other green technology that is kicking the pants off of geothermal in sales falls far short of the impact that can be realized with geothermal alone.

More importantly, geothermal supports all of the other renewable energy technologies. Solar and wind proponents should be screaming from their rooftops for the world to adopt geothermal. Because geothermal automatically drops off the peak summer demand by at least 30% which means a larger percentage of the national baseload can be generated by renewables.

Depending on who you ask, the estimated geothermal market share currently hovers around 1-2%. Imagine if we could bump that to 5% by replacing half of the propane and oil furnaces in the U.S. It would save the homeowners money, save an astronomical amount of energy and reduce GHG significantly more than those same homeowners buying electric cars.

Geothermal is the right technology to reshape our energy future. It’s a shame we have to bury it.

Geothermal Equals Peace of Mind

Monday, October 2, 2017

There are many benefits of ground source heat pump systems (GSHP). They are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. They provide comfort levels that are unmatched by conventional technologies. They are an in-home luxury that can be used for both spacing conditioning and domestic hot water generation.

GSHPs also provide price stability and financial peace mind. Month to month, GSHP heating bills are as reliable and predictable as the systems themselves.

Heating Bill? Well it Depends on the Price.

With a geothermal heat pump system, the amount of energy used to heat and cool a home can be cut by anywhere from 40% to 70%. As great as that sounds, the savings offered by a GSHP may not be enough to offset the upfront cost to install such a system in somes cases.

First cost relative to savings (typically referred to as simple payback) isn’t the only thing to consider. A prospective client should be aware of the fact that fossil fuel prices tend to jump around A LOT more than electricity.

Consider the following graph which shows the historical cost to deliver 100,000 Btu of heat energy to a home (based on the national average for energy prices by year since 2001).

Cost per 100,000 Btu by Heating Fuel and Year1


GSHP Operating Costs are Predictable

The cost to deliver 100,000 Btu with a GSHP has been steady since 2001, even though the average price for electricity has increased by over 40% over that time period. This just reiterates the fact that GSHPs act as a safeguard against inflationary energy prices.

The interesting thing to note is how much the cost to deliver the same amount of heat energy with competing fossil fuels has bounced around over the same time frame. Consider the following table which highlights the year with the highest average price (by fuel type) and the range of monthly average prices within that year:

Price Range by Fuel Type During Peak Year1

Fuel Gas Propane Oil GSHP
Worst Year 2008 2014 2013 2014
Average Cost $1.63 $3.53 $3.55 $0.81
Range $1.42 - $2.43 $2.92 - $4.95 $3.44 - $3.68 $0.78 - $0.86

Budget for the Winter

Assuming an average 2,500 ft2 home in Brookings, SD, this is what the heating bills could look like in January and through the entire heating season given the variability in energy prices during the worst year:

January Heating Bill in Brookings, SD1

Fuel Gas Propane Oil GSHP
Year 2008 2014 2013 2014
January Bill $210 - $360 $435 - $730 $510 - $545 $115 - $130
Annual Bill $1090 - $1860 $2240 - $3790 $2630 - $2820 $600 - $660

Given the amount of variability in price for fossil fuels, homeowners that rely on them for heat really have no way to predict how big their next heating bill might be. Life is full of surprises. The heating bill doesn’t need to be one of them.

Footnotes

  1. Prices based on national averages, EIA

Luxury Comfort Systems

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Compare your sales strategy to that of a car dealership. Other HVAC salesmen are shilling an old pickup with poor gas mileage. You're offering a luxury sports car that happens to get better mileage than anything else on the road. Geothermal is the most advanced AND energy-efficient HVAC system on the market - it has a higher price-tag for good reason (“The Masterpiece of HVAC Technology”).

From Bragging Rights to Public Relations

Homeowners have a budget for nice things. They want them first, and they want other people to know they have them.

Corporations have the same philosophy, and they have an even larger audience to impress. Of course, they want bragging rights among their peers. But they also want to impress the public. Proving that they've "gone green" with geothermal will make their public relations director’s job easy.

Quality is another high priority for either type of customer. Customers don't want to replace their heating systems. They want a system that will last for a long time. Studies have shown consumers believe that quality products aren't cheap.

Your potential customer will pay more for bragging rights and for the best product available. Geothermal offers those bragging rights and it is the best HVAC product available. You just have to prove it.

How Do You Prove It?

Geothermal is state-of-the-art. It's environmentally-friendly. It has a cool factor. Instead of wasting precious fossil fuels, you're using solar energy stored in the earth's crust to heat your home! Include these qualities in your sales pitch.

Unlike solar panels, windmills, or Tesla badges geothermal is an “invisible” green technology. You have to explain the benefits instead of showing them. Provide customers with a list of features proving that they'll be the greenest neighbor in the hood - or business park - when they purchase a geothermal system.

Tell your customers that geothermal heat will allow them to:

  • Remove excessive outdoor equipment, opening up valuable real estate
  • Avoid replacement costs associated with traditional HVAC systems (underground geothermal pipes are not susceptible to outside elements)
  • Eliminate traditional HVAC noise pollution (fans and compressors outside)
  • Eliminate fresh water consumption (from cooling towers; typically on commercial HVAC systems)
  • Eliminate on-site greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by replacing the boiler/furnace
  • Be the coolest neighbor in the hood (using the earth's crust to heat your house)

Start with these qualities and slowly work your way down to less-exciting aspects. Don't start your sales pitch with interminable flow charts and cliche-riddled speeches about how the investment will pay off over X number of years. Be bold. Tell your customers that your product is more expensive because it is better.

Public Validation

Find an expert to further validate the technology you’re selling. Let’s say you want to build a house. You’re looking for a design expert. An architect would probably be your best bet, right?

Well, architects happen to be outspoken about their love for geothermal. They love the peaceful, quiet ambiance, and the elimination of outdoor condensers and cooling towers. These articles in Commercial Architecture and Green Builder Media will help you illustrate these points clearly. Is there a better spokesperson than someone who designs buildings?

Government officials are also hopping on the bandwagon. Your customers should know that geothermal heat may eventually be required. Things are trending this way in the U.S. and abroad:

  • Ontario’s building code will eliminate combustion heating in new homes by 2030
  • Enbridge (North America’s largest natural gas utility) is switching from gas lines to geothermal loops in new developments
  • The state of New York has earmarked billions of dollars for reducing GHG emissions
  • Google spin-off, Dandelion has entered the market

Your Sales Pitch Summary

Geothermal heat is garnering worldwide praise, with advanced technology that justifies its high price. There is your sales pitch.

About the Author

Jay Egg
Egg Geothermal

Jay is a consultant and designer of geothermal HVAC systems, in addition to being author of two books and several articles on the subject. He is the Founder of Egg Systems, and focuses on geothermal consulting, engineering, and contracting technologies.

Jay Egg started Egg Systems in 1990 to provide energy efficient geothermal air conditioning systems to the Florida, and especially the Tampa Bay markets. Jay Conducted his first speech in 1994. Afterwards, Tampa Electric Company (TECO) began to rely on Mr. Egg’s training expertise utilizing him in various forums from conventions to in house educating. Jay co-authored with Brian Howard for McGraw-Hill a professional book on the subject of Geothermal HVAC, Green Heating and Cooling, published in 2010. He also co-authored with Greg Cunniff and Carl Orio a graduate – level textbook for McGraw–Hill, Modern Geothermal HVAC Engineering and Controls Applications which got published in July, 2013. Jay is a featured writer and speaker, most recently having been selected as featured speaker for The Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America 2011.

Low Hanging Fruit- Mainstreaming Geothermal with Simpler Pumping

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Connor Donovan from Melink GEO discusses how simplifying commercial pumping with pre-packaged pumping systems can improve individual projects and help to improve the adoption of geothermal throughout the HVAC market.

Duration: 44 minutes

About the Presenter

Connor Donovan
Melink Corporation

Connor Donovan joined Melink in 2016 to help change the world, one building at a time by assisting Melink’s growing number of clients in implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions into their commercial facilities.

At Melink, Connor assists in the project development, design, project management, and commissioning of Geothermal HVAC systems. Connor also has experience in new product development, working on the development of a patented pump station for the geothermal HVAC industry.

Connor holds a B.S. in Nuclear and Radiological Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a minor in Engineering & Business. Connor is also an IGSHPA Accredited Installer and an Engineer in Training (EIT).