Plains Territory Home

“Our house is always at 70 degrees now and we are relieved we no longer have to use wood or propane.”

Plains Territory Home

  • 1,250 sq. ft.
  • Ranch style home with a finished basement
  • Built in 1973
  • BEFORE: Propane heat and standard air conditioner
  • AFTER: All-electric home with a geothermal heat pump.

STEP 1: Pinpointing Air Leaks

The first step in making the most cost effective energy upgrades to your home is knowing the efficiency of the structure. Both homes were given Blower Door Tests to find and measure air leaks that can exist through walls, windows, doors and even electrical outlets.

A Blower Door Test places a home under a known pressure and then measures how much airflow is required to maintain that pressure. The tighter a house, the less air the blower door must move to maintain a given pressure.

Besides measuring the air tightness of the house, it also helps to pinpoint specific air leaks. Knowing a home’s problem areas means investments into energy upgrades can be better targeted and will have a greater impact on reducing a home’s energy expenses.

Energy Engineer David Petroy conducts a Blower Door Test on one of the homes selected for the Home Energy Makeover. This large fan pulls air through the house and measures the air flow. The more air flowing through the home, the more air leaks the home has.
Air being pulled through a home during a Blower Door Test reveals the many places air can be leaking. This candle was nearly extinguished by the pull of air through this electrical outlet.

Blower Door Tests conducted by:

Blue Sky Energy Solutions
David Petroy, MA

STEP 2: Scope of Work

Every home is very different, which is why our Energy Experts conduct free Home Energy Audits to help our customers find custom solutions to meet their energy needs. After reviewing the results of the Blower Door Test on our Plains Territory home, our Energy Management Team determined that the following upgrades would make the greatest impact on the home’s energy bill:

  • Cellulose insulation in the attic and crawlspace
  • Insulation on exposed water pipe and ducts
  • Insulators on all switch plates and outlets on outside walls
  • New storm doors and metal insulated front and back doors
  • New Marathon electric water heater
  • New geothermal heat pump system to replace the current heating and cooling system that also includes a Desuperheater which will provide free hot water in the summer.

STEP 3: Installation

Installation of a geothermal heat pump requires digging a hole for the loop field. Because this property is large, a horizontal loop field was placed, which saves money on excavation costs. In the case where lot sizes are smaller, vertical loop fields can be installed.

Once digging the hole is complete, plastic pipe is installed and then buried. This pipe carries water through the system and back underground. The water in the pipe acts as the vehicle to move warm air either into the house or out of the house. In the summer, warm air is extracted from the house and moved underground until the water has cooled. In the winter, the warmth of the earth is moved inside via the water in the pipes.

The pipes are closed, meaning water is not deposited into the ground, it is simply heated or cooled by moving through the buried pipe.

United Power offers substantial rebates on geothermal heat pumps. Learn more about our rebate program.

STEP 4: Energy Savings

Through April of this year, this home’s energy costs have been reduced by nearly $725. This homeowner also no longer has to burn wood or buy propane.

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