TechPractices are outstanding housing projects throughout the U.S. where innovative technologies are implemented. Builders and remodelers can use these examples as models for projects of their own.
|Bob Schmitt Homes Snapshot
||Bob Schmitt Homes
||50 homes per year
Keeping customers comfortable while lowering their energy
bills is a goal of most energy-efficient builders. Bob Schmitt
Homes (BSH) does this by equipping about 80 percent of their
new homes with geothermal systems for heating and cooling and
BSH has been in business for over 45 years and builds between
50 and 75 custom homes annually with an average selling price
of $230,000. They monitor each home annually for energy performance.
Although geothermal systems have a higher initial cost than traditional
heating and cooling equipment, they substantially reduce customer's
Bob Schmitt Homes use Hydro Delta Heat Pumps, manufactured
by Hydro Delta Corporation, for space heating and cooling and
water heating. In addition to heating and cooling, this geothermal
heat pump system also provides 100 percent of a home's water heating
The Hydro Delta Heat pump circulates a heat transfer liquid
through closed-loops in deep wells, thus these systems have no
above ground equipment. From this liquid a compressor extracts
or dissipates heat. The indoor equipment looks similar to traditional
heating and cooling equipment. BSH new homes are constructed with
vertical ground loops because ground space is limited. Although
vertical loops cost more than horizontal loops, they are necessary
when ground space is limited.
BSH performs a cost analysis on each home to illustrate the
cost savings of operating geothermal heat pumps versus traditional
heating and cooling methods. The cost analysis is given to prospective
customers as part of their sales package.
Bob Schmitt Homes has found that the first step in making geothermal
heat pumps cost effective is starting with an energy-efficient
building envelope. Because the initial equipment cost of geothermal
systems is higher than traditional heating and cooling, BSH has
found it cost effective to reduce the required size of the system
by incorporating more energy efficient construction practices.
Energy-efficient features include low-E wood windows, foam-filled
steel doors, and an R-19 total wall insulation value obtained
with fiberglass batt cavity insulation and 1-inch exterior foam
sheathing. Measures are taken to control air infiltration, such
as using casement windows that pull air-tight upon closing, sill
sealer at the foundation sill plate, and foam sealant at all exterior
Geothermal systems require an extra step in the building process--well
drilling for the ground loops. Ground loops can also be installed
in less expensive horizontal loops, but this uses too much space
for BSH. To save costs on the vertical loops, BSH new homes drills
wells for several homes at the same time to reduce costs associated
with moving well-drilling equipment on site.
Installation of the indoor geothermal equipment is similar
to traditional HVAC equipment.
Geothermal systems provide space heating and cooling and water
heating for a low operating cost. They produce warmer delivery
air than air-source heat pumps, have no outdoor condensing unit,
and are not associated with any indoor air quality concerns.
The geothermal systems in BSH new homes cost about $5,000 more
than traditional heating and cooling equipment. However, customers
have immediate savings. BSH's customers typically realize a positive
cash flow because the monthly energy savings are greater than
the incremental increase of monthly mortgage payments resultant
from the higher initial cost of the geothermal system. The results
of an analysis of a typical BSH home of 2,500 square feet is presented
in the following table. These cost savings are based on a local
electric rate averaging about $0.075 per kWh and the local gas
price of $0.70 per therm (It should be noted that natural gas
prices are expected to decrease by up to 50% next year because
of local competition).
Results of an Energy Analysis
Performed By BSH on a Typical 2,500 Square Feet Home
||78% Efficiency Gas Furnace
||Air to Air Heat Pump
||Geothermal Heat Pump
|Estimated Annual Energy Consumption Costs
|Average Monthly Cost
There are no special codes that geothermal systems are required
to meet in this area.
Each home is monitored annually by BSH for energy performance.
They use this monitoring to troubleshoot and for future marketing
efforts. Energy monitoring has shown the systems to be very energy
Feedback from customers is very positive. The company is located
in the community where they build. Because of their close proximity,
they have frequent contact with their customers.
Do you have a specific question? Try the contacts listed below:
Bob Schmitt Homes
8501 Woodbridge Circle
N. Ridgeville, OH 44039
Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium
701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004-2696
International Ground Source Heat Pump Association
490 Cordell South Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078-8018
Hydro Delta Corporation
1000 Rico Road
Monroeville, PA 15146