Why Geothermal is Still a Great Investment in a Cheap Natural Gas State

Colorado is a great state to start a small business in. With low income-tax rates, low unemployment, and great entrepreneurial energy Colorado frequently ranks high in national rankings for doing business. Which are all fantastic to start a green business like ours. According to the Colorado Energy Office, Colorado ranked 6th in marketed natural gas and has the third largest natural gas reserves in the country. And according to the Energy Information Administration, Colorado ties for 45th for the average price of natural gas (per 1,000 cubic feet)- meaning it tied Alaska, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington as having some of the most inexpensive natural gas prices in the country. Choose Energy reported that in June, Colorado ranked 7th cheapest in natural gas rates in the country. Doesn’t sound great for selling geothermal does it? I disagree and here is why:

One of the biggest comments we get when a client inquires with us about installing geothermal is that they want to reduce their carbon footprint. Younger generations are interested in reducing their impact on our planet, and are educating themselves on ways to do it. From electric vehicles to solar panels to recycling to geothermal, they are choosing to make a conscious effort to make the planet better for its future inhabitants. They want to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and are figuring out that decarbonization is important to them. Geothermal allows them to reduce their carbon footprint and propel them towards the changes they want to make.

No alt text provided for this image

For other customers, installing a geothermal system is about reducing their utility bill and keeping their future monthly expenses down. As people are aging into their homes they want a system that will last, be comfortable and low maintenance, and save them money. Even with inexpensive natural gas prices in Colorado, many of our customers are still seeing a pay back of 5-8 years when they replace their dated furnace and air conditioner with a geothermal system. Federal tax credits and utility rebates don’t hurt either. One of our client’s called us the other day to tell us how excited he was to be getting a nice check back from his utility company because of his new geothermal system. The cost of his retrofit geothermal system after tax credits and utility rebates was comparable to what he would have paid for total replacement of a less efficient furnace and air conditioner.

As more and more municipalities set Clean Energy and Net Zero Carbon goals, geothermal presents utility companies, homeowners, developers, builders, and investors a means to meet high performing, sustainable development. For example in Boulder county, they have proposed a goal to require all new residential construction to be Zero Net Energy by 2022. More homeowners are educating themselves and realizing that geothermal is a great way to meet these needs. In the next several weeks we will be installing 9 geothermal systems in the Boulder area. Yet just driving to Boulder we probably will pass twenty-some drill rigs, work over rigs or wells in the 25 miles between us- reminding us that Colorado is still a top producer of natural gas. But in my opinion, this is starting to change.

Our state is amply supplied with both fossil fuel and renewable energy resources. And as a green business owner and geothermal industry defender the impact of cheap fossil fuels in our state keeps us advancing our installation game and best practices. We have had to build more compact, efficient and safe equipment and streamline our processes. Maximizing efficient drilling operations helps us keep costs down and present quality, affordable geothermal systems to our customers. We are on a mission to make geothermal accessible and economically viable to all homeowners. So, while natural gas is abundant and cheap in our state, we are upbeat to see homeowners educating themselves about a technology that can check all their boxes. Energy efficient, decreased carbon footprint, save money, safety, comfort, reliable, aesthetically pleasing, security, and no weather damage, corrosion or vandalism. We may not be the biggest and aren’t taking millions of investor dollars into our company, but we are bringing affordable geothermal to more homeowners and simplifying the process with our modern installation practices. We are a small, family owned company that has been providing quality geothermal systems for over 15 years based on our innovative approach and streamlined operation and will continue to provide affordable geothermal solutions to our customers.

4 Reasons You Need a Geothermal Heating and Cooling System Now

4 Reasons You Need A Geothermal System Now

Let’s be honest, there are more than 4 reasons to install the best heating and cooling system available, according to the EPA, but how many do you need when this system can give you piece of mind, comfort, and cost savings?

The perks of installing a geothermal system are endless, but lets start with these 4:

4. Geothermal is Clean & Invisible. What the……you ask? A great benefit of geothermal is it is clean, and you don’t even know it’s there. Clean, as in there is no onsite combustion of fossil fuel to heat your home. You may have a natural gas furnace that emits carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, volatile organic compounds as well as other nitrous oxides but geothermal does not.  And invisible as in there is no loud, ugly, outside air conditioner ruining your beautiful outside aesthetics because inside, the (GSHP) ground source heat pump is operating quietly and efficiently. You know that loud hum you hear when your neighbor’s 12-year-old air conditioner kicks in while are enjoying the fruits of your labor in the backyard. It makes a difference!

Geothermal Installation
Geothermal system being installed in yard of home

3. Geothermal gives you comfortable heating, cooling, and can even pre-heat your domestic hot water heater! Simply put, in the winter warmth is drawn from the ground through a loop carrying a water solution to a heat pump (GSHP) inside your home. The GSHP concentrates the Earth’s thermal energy and transfers it to air circulated through duct work or radiant heat in flooring. In the summer, the process is reversed and heat is extracted from the air inside your home and transferred back to the ground. As an added bonus, the waste heat from the compressor can be used to preheat water for your hot water heater! That’s comfort and cost savings!

Geothermal Vertical Loop
Geothermal ground source heat exchange

2. Did you know that having solar or geothermal is not an either/or scenario but are actually a great compliment to each other? As you already know, solar power is using the sun to create power and geothermal systems can be a great compliment to them. A geothermal system can save you money because for every unit of energy used to power the system, 3-5 units are supplied as heat. Where a fossil fuel furnace may be 78-80% efficient, a geothermal heat pump is about 400% efficient! So you can power your home and heat pump with the sun and heat and cool it with the bountiful, stored energy in your yard! Planned correctly, you can get to net zero, where the total amount of energy used by hour home on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site. Check out more about that here!

Geothermal Savings
Geothermal Savings

1. Geothermal will save you money! Until December 31, 2019, the federal government is offering renewable energy tax credits for geothermal heating and cooling systems. The credit is a 30% tax savings for installations through the end of December 2019. It starts to decrease in 2020. This tax credit coupled with energy efficient operation of a geothermal system yield big savings for homeowners! Also, utility companies are offering exclusive rebates for installing energy efficient equipment. For example, in Colorado, United Power and Tri-State G & T are offering $200/ton and $500/ton respectively! An average 3000 square foot house might have a 4-ton ground-source geothermal system in it, yielding a rebate of $2800! Add in the federal tax credit and homeowners are seeing great savings that quickly offset the initial difference in purchase price.

The perks of having a geothermal system are abundant and now is a great time to get an energy efficient, environmentally friendly, ecoluxury geothermal system for a price close to a conventional system!

As Owner and Vice President of Colorado Geothermal Drilling, Kari Rau has a passion for spreading the efficacious benefits of geothermal because she likes getting people excited about the things she’s excited about. Her aptitudes are vast, from blogging about energy efficiency and saving money to amplifying green business with her husband and managing their charming mile high properties. In addition to running two esteemed businesses, Kari sits on the Steering Committee of the Brighton Business Builders and enjoys spending time with her family outdoors.

Do You Make a Mess When Installing Geothermal? The Geothermal Gossiper Answers Your Question!

We are often asked what the geothermal installation process is like and if it’s messy. YES! A resounding yes is the answer to this question!! Homeowners are surprised when they see how much equipment rolls up in front of their home, but are even more surprised at our efficiency and streamlined process and how quickly we can be in and out. There is a lot that goes into installing geothermal- a drill, skid steers, a grout plant, an air compressor, stacks of drilling rods, an excavator, loops, holding tanks, hoses, water, I could go on and on. We invest in our company to make sure we are mastering leading technology as we pride ourselves on the quality of services we commit to our clients. Our process and equipment have been designed to ensure safety of our employees and a quality and efficient installation for our clients.

BEFORE geothermal installation. Photo Credit Jim D.

At Colorado Geothermal Drilling we are known for specialized installation in compact spaces. Now imagine- we have to drill three 300-foot holes in a front yard like the picture here. That’s nearly 1 football field per borehole! The good news is- a job like this will usually take us less than a week from start to finish.

So the process is going to look something like this: Equipment is brought in with several trailers and trucks. Our crew will strategically set up equipment and prepare for drilling.

Equipment used in installation. Photo Credit Jim D.
Photo Credit Jim D.

We will locate where the loops will be installed to make sure we stay clear of gas lines, water lines, electrical lines, fiber optic, sewer, and sprinklers which will impact our drilling locations. Keep in mind we have these located ahead of time because we want to make sure our crew stays safe. However, it is not unusual for a sprinkler line to be cut as these typically are easy to fix and often transverse throughout a yard.

Drilling produces cuttings. Photo Credit Jim D.
Trenching and manifolding. Credit Jim D.

After loops are installed we must excavate around the loops and dig a trench to manifold all of the loops together to bring into your home and to your geothermal heat pump. High density polyethylene pipe (HDPE) is used and is heat fused together to form joints stronger than the pipe itself.

Once all loops are fused we will bury everything and bring your yard back to grade. We are not landscapers so we don’t lay sod, rock, or plant trees. Most homeowners either do it themselves or hire a landscaper to come back in and lay sod or take the opportunity to update their landscape. After the project is finished most people have no idea that geothermal was just installed and that their neighbor just became the next Genius Geothermal Homeowner!

Photo Credit Jim D.
Landscapers can come in after loop installation to bring your yard back to its original beauty.

One of the best things about your geothermal system, besides the energy efficient heating and cooling, is that you no longer have an outside air conditioner making noise and ruining your outdoor aesthetics. Your close proximity neighbors will notice how quiet it is and you will be enjoying the quiet sounds of nature, as it was intended.

AFTER geothermal installation Photo Credit Jim D.

Living with a geothermal system is an exceptionally quiet, comfortable, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly experience. If you don’t already know the benefits- I will take this chance to share them with you again:

Geothermal provides enhanced comfort, improved indoor air quality, natural aesthetics (no loud ugly outdoor equipment), safe heating because there is no onsite combustion of fossil fuels, no worries about carbon monoxide, fuel/gas leaks or spills, or fumes, reduced noise, minimal maintenance, no weather damage or vandalism, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reliable, ‘green’ technology recognized by LEED.

Colorado Geothermal Drilling works with homeowners, builders, HVAC contractors and designers to provide the best geothermal design and installation to meet the client’s needs.

Kari Rau is co-owner and VP at Colorado Geothermal Drilling and owner at HGB Home Co., LLC. She holds the title of World’s Okayest Mom, is a serial chips and queso addict, Airbnb Superhost, and loves to gossip about geothermal to anyone who will listen.