Before you start your project, we encourage you to:
Step 1- Join CREWearth:
Download and complete a CREW membership form [PDF 150Kb] and contact the CREW earth energy working group. Read everything you can, ask a lot of questions and share your learning with other members of the group.
Step 2 - Get an energy audit of your house:
This will not only help you determine how much heat you'll require from your earth energy system, but will also help you identify energy saving opportunities and make you eligible for $7000 in federal "EcoEnergy" and Ontario Home Energy Retrofit rebates for your heat pump system alone. See the REEP website for details.
Step 3 - Assess your site:
For an earth energy system, you'll likely need somewhere you can drill deep holes on your property. Call your local municipality and utilities and get them to locate your underground services for you (gas, electrical, telephone/cable, water and sewer), and make sure you have at least a 3-4m (10') diameter circle clear of any underground obstructions available for drilling. This circle should be accessible to the road, be clear of overhead trees or wires (so that a tall drilling rig can fit), and should be reasonably accessible to your house (so that pipes can be installed underground from the drilling site through your basement wall into your water heater and furnace or ventilator). If you have open fields or ponds on your property then you will be able to consider less expensive horizontal loops instead of vertically drilled loops.
Step 4 - Check out installers:
Get references and quotes from local suppliers, including the local dealers listed on the Next Energy and GeoSmart Energy websites. The Earth Energy society suggests a list of questions that you might ask prospective dealer/installers.
Step 5 - Check your budget numbers:
An earth energy system can save up 75% of electricity costs in an electrically-heated home and is also well worth checking out if you're replacing an older oil, gas or propane furnace. Ontario offers a PST rebate for any residential geothermal project, but the ecoENERGY incentive (and matching Ontario incentive) for residential geothermal energy projects are only available for retrofits. The easiest (and only) way to get the ecoENERGY and Ontario REDO grants is to hire an energy advisor to evaluate your house, give you a report, follow their instructions, and let them file for the grant on your behalf. For more information on obtaining an energy audit or ecoEnergy grant, see REEP's EcoEnergy page. If you're a resident of Waterloo, check whether financing options are still available from Lifetime Energy. For other options, refer to our Costs and Incentives page.
Step 6 - Do your project!
Geothermal projects are relatively simple for the purchaser. The most important thing for you to do is get quotes and references; the installer will do all the grunt work. If you're a "do-it-yourselfer" then you'll want to ask lots of questions about what size of pump you need.
Here are some mistakes others have made that you should be aware of:
- Poorly sized heat pump: Getting a heat pump that was either too big or too small will likely result in you spending more money on electricity (running a poorly sized pump) than you will save.
- Improperly sized ground loop: While it's true that drilling is expensive, the worst mistake you make on a geothermal installation is to undersize your ground loop. A loop that's too small will result in your pump running more than it should, using more electricity than it should, and it may even cost you more on your electricity bill than you will save.
- Read the installation contract: Make sure that you're not responsible for cleaning up your yard and repaving your driveway! You'll want to make sure that your contract clearly states that the installer will leave your property as they found it, landscaping and all.
Step 7 - Tell your story:
Tell your family, friends, neighbours, work-mates, and please tell us! We want to know about your project, particularly if you decide to add a solar hot water heater to your system. We may even ask you if we can post a picture of it in our photo gallery. Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.