Geothermal in Apartment Buildings

Geothermal in Apartments

Colorado Geothermal Drilling Installed a Geothermal System in a Large Multi Family Building to Provide Unique Savings to Developers in Brighton, CO

On a project in Colorado, 12 apartment buildings comprised of 288 one-, two-, three-bedroom apartments are being heated and cooled by a geothermal system installed by Colorado Geothermal Drilling.

Over a period of approximately 12 weeks, our crew of 3-4 on-site geothermal installers drilled in 120 310-foot loops and four 380-foot loops for a combined total of just over 15 miles of geothermal pipe in the ground. The skid mounted drill and crew averaged about 610 vertical-feet drilling a day while grouting and backfilling boreholes. Work efficiency was essential to this project so the skilled crew worked tirelessly to develop processes that allowed them to complete more work in a safe and timely manner. Once drilling was completed on a building, headering occurred the following week and drilling continued on the next building. This kept the project delivery on schedule and continued as framing of the buildings began.

Interior work for the project was no different. Each apartment was supplied with their own heat pump. Each building was supplied with its own circulation system of 2 ECM variable speed circulation pumps. Twelve buildings and a club house completed the project. All of the drilling took place after the building foundations were backfilled. Rough installation of interior pipe was done during rough duct work installation. After painting was complete, heat pumps were set and final piping connections were made to each heat pump, mechanical room piping was installed, and the geothermal system was purged for the apartment building.

With utility company and federal rebate incentives, and a proper, economically designed system and installation; these large geothermal heat pump projects are very feasible. Lower overall energy use for heating and cooling systems are very attractive to developers, building owners, and residents. The combination of all these savings off-set the higher up front costs and make the geothermal system competitive and more cost effective than a conventional HVAC system over the long term.

Colorado Geothermal Drilling has designed and installed over 600 geothermal projects and is owned by Dan and Kari Rau. For any questions on this geothermal project, contact Dan at dan@cogeothermal.com.

Colorado Geothermal Drilling Finalist for 2020 Top Company Award

ColoradoBiz 2020 Top Company Finalist Colorado Geothermal Drilling

CEO Dan Rau’s engineering background and childhood on a Midwest dairy farm have made him passionate about building safer and more efficient equipment. That helps family-owned Colorado Geothermal Drilling install its cost-effective heating and cooling systems with less equipment and manpower.

“Because of geothermal’s unique heating and cooling benefits, the industry is really growing,” says co-owner and Vice President Kari Rau, Dan’s wife, noting that it can reduce peak loads for utilities and reduce fossil-fuel dependence. “As more thought goes into developing our homes and communities to be more energy efficient, geothermal is truly a natural way to do this and works well with other renewable energies like wind and solar.”

Dan and Kari Rau on Panel to Discuss Geothermal Possibilities in Colorado

Colorado Geothermal Drilling owners, Dan and Kari Rau, were recently invited to be on a panel to discuss Geothermal in Colorado. Colorado Senate Nominee, Sally Boccella hosted the round table event with guests including HEET Co-Founder Audrey Schulman, Gary Arnold with UA Pipefitters Local 208, Sydnie Lieb with Xcel Energy, and Colorado State Representative Brianna Titone.

The discussion included information on geothermal ground source heat pump systems, employing more Colorado workers, federal and state tax incentives, as well as utilizing geothermal micro districts in future development. It was a thoughtful conversation about what we are doing at Colorado Geothermal Drilling and we always enjoy educating more people about the benefits of geothermal.

Dan and Kari Rau have operated their family owned business, Colorado Geothermal Drilling, since 2005. They have been one of the leading installers for geothermal systems in Colorado, partly due to their unique operation and vast knowledge of geothermal design and installation. Their combination of specialized equipment and experienced personnel has made them a rarity in this field and they are able to provide their customers with valuable information, answering any questions, and providing the best energy efficient system to fit the client’s needs.

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 Drilling, Firestone 80603
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 your 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.

The Geothermal Process: Do You Make a Mess When Installing Geothermal?

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.

Drilling produces cuttings. 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.

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.

The Net Zero Revolution and What You Need to Know Now

By Kari Rau

With media coverage of popular buzz words like ‘climate change’, ‘be green’, ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘carbon neutral’, etc. it can be difficult to manage and comprehend the ever-changing renewable energy mantra.

Having a Net Zero home is increasing in popularity as more people want to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and the grid and build sustainable, efficient homes. The definition of net zero means “the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site”, according to the World Green Building Council.

One of the first things to consider if this is attainable for you is to evaluate your utility energy usage and determine effective ways to reduce it. This part is often overlooked by consumers since residential solar and wind are marketed so heavily to easily and quickly turn your home into a clean energy burning machine. While these renewables will absolutely offset you reliance on the electrical grid, it is also important to examine your current energy usage and determine ways to decrease it.

what we do

“After all, decreasing your overall energy usage saves you money and can help control the size of the renewable system you want to install”

Two thirds of the average home’s energy bills come from heating, cooling, and hot water. You are spending a lot of money to heat and cool your home and heat your hot water heater! Do you have the most efficient system installed? A geothermal system is the most energy efficient heating and cooling system there is. Check out this video for a quick explanation here. It uses heat from the earth, by way of geothermal loops to heat and cool your home. Simply put, in the winter warmth is drawn from the earth through a loop carrying a water solution to a heat pump inside the home. The heat pump concentrates the earth’s thermal energy and transfers it to air circulated through duct work or to radiant heat in flooring. In the summer, the process is reversed and heat is extracted from the air inside your home and transferred to the big heat sink in your yard (the earth) by way of the geothermal loops. As an added bonus, the waste heat from the compressor can be used to heat water for bathing, cooking, washing, etc. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? There’s more!

Another 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 fuels in your home! And invisible as in there is no loud, ugly, outside air conditioner ruining your outside aesthetics in the summer and inside, the heat pump is about the size of a furnace yet operates quietly and efficiently. So you get quiet, comfortable, safe, efficient, environmentally friendly because you are reducing your carbon footprint, AND saving money. A geothermal heat pump can save you money because for every unit of energy used to power the system, 3-4.5 units are supplied as heat. Where as a fossil fuel furnace may be 78-90% efficient, a geothermal heat pump is about 400 percent efficient!

To continue to plan a comfortable, energy-efficient home and decrease your overall energy usage try installing LED lights and Energy Star rated appliances. Take a good look at how you live in your home. Focus on what you really you use and how to make it as efficient as possible. For those of you that love your gas stove, I challenge you to try an electric induction cook top. Every bit as efficient as gas but safer! You can live with out natural gas hooked up to your home!

Installing energy efficient doors and windows, and adding adequate insulation in your exterior walls and roof also can keep your utility bills down. You may want to also evaluate passive solar building design where you look at windows, walls, and floors and their ability to collect, store, reflect and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This too will aid you in achieving a net zero home and decrease the overall size of your renewable system(s) as well as your impact on Mother Nature.

Kari Rau is Chief Idea Officer at Colorado Geothermal Drilling, Influence Executive Colorado Geothermal Drilling, Geothermal Enthusiast, Advocate for Womenprenuers and Small Business, & Serial Chips and Queso Addict.

Colorado Geothermal Home Retrofit in Todd Creek, CO 80602

In 2010, we retrofitted our 4773 square foot (including 75% finished basement) home in suburban Denver. The home was built in 2000 with conventional construction, nothing over the top as far as insulation, windows, and efficiency go.

Shortly after moving in we had a blower door test done and learned about where we had insulation inefficiencies throughout the home. We added more insulation to the attic taking it from an R-30 to R-60. The basement was unfinished at the time so we made sure it was adequately insulated as well and increased the minimal R-13 insulation to a R-21. We also had all ductwork sealed which reduced air leakage from 20% to less than 3%.

Connecting geothermal loops to bring into home.

For the geothermal residential retrofit we drilled eight 300-foot loops on the North side of the home. We planned ahead and added additional loops for a future 1990 square foot metal shop we were going to build in the next few years. All eight loops were manifolded into a common header and connected to the 5-ton geothermal water to air heat pump in the home as well as a 5-ton geothermal water to water heat pump for the shop. The pumping system utilizes high efficiency ECM pumps that save approximately 70% of the energy typically used with a common pumping system.

The shop was built with radiant tubing in 5 inches of concrete all spaced 6 inches apart and batt insulation in the walls and ceiling at R-25. There is a total of just under 4000 feet of 1/2 inch pex tubing for the radiant floor heating system. Sixteen loops approximately 250 feet long each made up the radiant floor which allowed the geothermal system to operate at a lower temperature for heating and reduces heating costs in the worst months of the winter. The shop averages about $20-30 per month while the house averages about $60 a month for heating and cooling. The only natural gas used in the home is for 2 gas fireplaces, used for aesthetics only.

Geothermal Retrofit Todd Creek
Home Retrofit

The comfort level and overall aesthetics of the geothermal system are what we as homeowners love the most. The three level home can easily be warmed up or cooled down very quickly, is quiet and extremely comfortable. And with lots of outdoor family time, the loud, outside air conditioning condenser is not missed! Installing the most energy efficient heating and cooling system can be done in all types construction. Retrofits are very successful and will save the homeowners money when designed and installed appropriately.

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

Our Geothermal Story

Geothermal has been a big part of our life for nearly 20 years. Who would have thought that the little barn in Northwest Iowa that we hosted our wedding reception at, and used geothermal to heat and cool it, would play such an integral roll in our lives? I mean, who spends the bulk of the visit to their wedding reception venue hanging out in the mechanical room talking to the owner about how geothermal works and how it’ll keep this old barn with 150 people in it cool on a hot July evening in steamy, humid Iowa?

Dan and Kari Rau

This guy. This Mechanical Engineer I met at Iowa State University and married a few decades ago. Little did we know that the geothermal system in that old barn set the stage for our passion, mission, and goals of building a small family geothermal business in the Rocky Mountains.

After a few years designing HVAC and geothermal systems Dan knew that he wanted to get out of the office and back to designing, building, and operating equipment. He loves processes and coming up with ways to improve geothermal installation to make it more safe, efficient and streamlined. His engineering degree came in handy when designing aspects of his drilling equipment. Dan’s engineering knowledge mixed with his drill operating experience has made him an unusual and rare occurrence in the geothermal industry. He frequently works with architects, engineers, designers, HVAC contractors, builders and clients to help guide them to the geothermal system most appropriate for their heating and cooling needs. Dan’s comprehensive understanding of geothermal design and installation, our specially designed equipment and our personnel allow us to successfully and repeatedly complete numerous geothermal jobs.

Over the years Colorado Geothermal Drilling has successfully designed and installed over 600 geothermal projects in Colorado and surrounding states. Our set-up is unique as we are able to access compact areas with our equipment, setting us apart from other drilling operations. With our vast knowledge of geothermal design and installation we can provide customers with valuable information, answering any questions, and providing the best energy efficient system to fit the clients’ needs. Colorado Geothermal Drilling strives to master leading edge technology and pride ourselves on the quality of services we commit to our clients. In fact, we have installed geothermal systems for our competitors.

Colorado Geothermal Drilling operates a specially designed and customized drill mounted on a skid loader with tracks. Each piece of equipment has been tailored by CGD to meet our high quality standards and to fully maximize the efficiency of our operations.

We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk too. We truly believe geothermal is the most energy efficient heating and cooling system available and have put it in our homes as well. Within 10 days of moving into our current house we set up the drilling equipment and installed our system. We have plans to install it in rental properties Kari owns and manages as well. What some see as scary upfront costs, we see as a great way to manage utility bills for many years to come. Installing geothermal in rental properties is a great way to save money, reduce our carbon footprint, and have a comfortable and long lasting system with very little maintenance to worry about. We can’t wait to get rid of the big propane tank on our next property!

Over the years we’ve done some really great projects. From wineries to fire departments, nature centers, military bases, art galleries and net zero homes. Educating people on the outstanding benefits of geothermal is one of things we love most to do and I hope to continue sharing these with people in the future. Like I’ve said before, one of the greatest things about geothermal is you can’t see it, but because of that so many people don’t know about it and how fantastic it is! Now is the time to really get the word out on geothermal!

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