GSHP: Ground Source Heat Pump
I have yet to find a way to afford to create the unique GSHP at my eco - adventure, my old house.   It will save money.  The simple payback is less than 15 yrs, which is good for a GSHP retrofit.  I just don't have the capital, nor a good enough job to get a loan.  Below are links to my rough design concept, building energy calculations, GSHP calculations, energy costs, etc..
GSHP Design Click Here
DIY GSHP Calcs  Click Here
Solar Boosted Ground Source Heat Pump Click Here

The Good News: 

I've come up with the ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GSHP
Here's what will make you the ideal GSHP candidate: Click Here
Below are some initial design concepts, goals and research

G - S - H - P:



Let me dispel TWO Ground Source Heat Pump myths first:


1.  Carbon savings: A GSHP produces HALF AS MUCH carbon as an oil fired heating / cooling system - based on source energy.  Natural gas is a little better than oil, still much worse the GSHP.  For a very well built house, as GSHP will add 15,000 lbs of carbon to the atmosphere per year, an oil fired heating system, 30,000 lbs.


Winner: GSHP by a mile.


2.  Energy efficency - GSHP vs oil:


    a.  Oil: Delivered - ship, barge, and truck to your house  (20% loss), Burner efficency (15% loss), Distribution efficency (10% loss - new sealed and / or insulated ducts / pipes) = 45% loss, 55% efficency, which delivers 55% of the origional energy in the oil actually heating the house.


    b.  GSHP:  Delivered (74% loss in generation and distribution of electricity), leaving 36% of the origional energy in the oil or coal used to generate the electricity to power the heat pump, which is then MULTIPLIED 3 TIMES by any reasonably designed and installed system, which delivers 108% of the origional energy in the oil or coal to heat the house.


Winner: GSHP by a mile.


Onto the meat of the matter: 

Using dirt to heat your home - or - giving new meaning to the old saying "Dirt Cheap"



Dirt? A heat source?

That's where the thermal energy is going to come from.  The temps in the earth are higher in the winter, lower in the summer, and steadier all the time than air temps.  This makes engineering a way to extract and dump heat more efficient.  


Heat Pump? 

In the summer it's like living in your 'fridge - In the winter, it's like living behind your 'fridge (without the dust bunnies).



Ideally, a heat pump will extract 3 - 4 times as much heat as it consumes in electricity.  Some say GSHPs are not as efficient as this claim.  Well, you need to design it right, not cut corners, seal and well insulate your house (you should do it anyway), and if adapting existing distribution, doing that right too.  See the blog I found for typical GSHP slip ups.  Also, many of the studies cited are quite old, based on older systems, and great strides have been made.

Carbon Footprint -

GSHP's do have a smaller carbon footprint. Don't believe me?  Then how about believing Canada, Great Britian, Sweden, etc. who are all betting that using GSHP's to reduce their country's carbon footprints per the Kyoto accords.


Published carbon impact for various means of heating are based on PRIMARY or SOURCE fuel use, this accounts for ALL the elec. used in powering up the heat pump.  All transmission  losses are accounted for.  All list GSHP's as the lowest carbon sources of heat - BY FAR!


I've read many a time that power for both pumps used in a GSHP aren't taken into account, I'd bet neither is the pump in a conventional hydronic system.  In either instance, the energy use is small compared to heating and cooling energy.  Nor have I heard of anyone including the the diesel fuel burned delivering oil, and propane (then dead heading the trucks back to the depots).  For that matter, what about the much more energy intensive and ecologically damaging infrastructure necessary to transport fuel vs electricity.  Then, finally, I found a study I can cite.  Tesla, the car company, not the ghost of Nicolla, researched it, and found that it takes 18% more SOURCE fuel for the refining and transport for gasoline.  Think of it this way, MPG in a car SHOULD be reduced by about 20% to give you the true MPG in source fuel.  You might think heating oil would take less source fuel to refine, and maybe even deliver, BUT, notice that the cost of heating oil is the same as gasoline, which indicates it's just as "expensive" ie, energy intensive to produce and deliver as gasoline


Help me if you can......


I'm an architect, I know more about what gets a building built, what makes a building work than most, but what I know the most is when to get HELP.

In this case, help has been

Catskills Windmill

Click here for C Windmill

Who did such a great energy analysis of the building and heating, figured out how to fix everything, and gave me a great estimate.  Then they tried heroically to get some government subsidies to help get the work done after I lost my job (didn't pan out, someone did something well meaning that fouled up the works).  Still, I learned where I need to concentrate my efforts to improve energy effiicency.


Altren Consulting & Contracting

Click here for Altren

Who are the pros from Dover for GSHP systems, don't take my word, they've just completed large systems at Mohonk Mountain House and the Culinary Institute.  They've been very patient with my efforts to find a way to afford a Ground Source Heat Pump system on a shoestring budget and with a life that has been just a bit chaotic since I met them.

Backstory for the Pond:

There is nothing like a home in the country to teach you the true definition of a money pit.

Click Here:  Why a small pond can be used for a GSHP system

This pond was in poor condition after 20 yrs of neglect.  


  • I have stopped it from from leaking, which has eroded from below a large area of lawn which is also made boggy at times.  All it took was a dozen weekends and 120 sacks of gravel mix.
  • I need to make it easier to clean and require cleaning less often (a long hard day every year, and it should be 2x a year.). 
  • I need to make it safer, ie, not a drowning hazard for children.  


Hence synergistic combined concept to:


  • Use it as the heat source /  sink for a indirect pond loob / closed loop for a ground source heat pump.
  • Cover it with foam - to increase it's efficency as a heat sink / source. 
  • To act as a base for a reflecting pool.


Solving these problems by: 


  • Providing a good use for it to make work maintaining it worth it.
  • Making a safer water feature.
  • Keeping leaves etc. from settliing to the deep bottom (easily broomed out of reflecting pool).


It's either that or fill it in and install drainage tiles and clean them every few year - no small amount of work.

 ( The pond it where it is because springs made it a wet bog to begin with. )

What I've proved to myself in these analyses is that the cheapest way to get a GSHP system, is also the cheapest way to solve my pond problems.  





The BIG Three

    GSHP Payback 

        Heating Loads


              Energy Audit

See links top right of page for more detailed analyses


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