Wyandotte to offer geothermal to its residents.

2 Jun 2011

In southeast Michigan, most think of Ann Arbor as the clear cut municipal leader in energy conservation and sustainable practices. You may be surprised to learn about the City of Wyandotte’s new program which will offer its residents the option of geothermal heating and cooling. The geothermal public utility, thought to be one of the first of its kind in the U.S., is pretty interesting.

In a nutshell, geothermal heating and cooling systems make use of the consistent temperatures found near the surface of the Earth’s crust (below 10 feet – the ground temperature stays consistently around 55 degrees F even in northern climates).  A 4-6 inch well is drilled between 300-600 feet deep and a thermal loop of pipe is installed containing a water-based solution. The solution is then circulated through a heat pump (powered by electricity and which takes the place of a furnace or air conditioning unit), where it acts as either a heat sink or a heat source.

According to the City, its geothermal customers should save between $500-$1,000/year in energy costs. The City installs the well and owns and maintains the equipment outside of the home (at a cost of around $10,000) and the equipment placed inside the home (such as the heat pump and hot water heater) would be the owner’s responsibility (also at a cost of approximately $10,000 – after Fed tax credit and rebates).  The City’s Engineer predicts that “in 20 years, the majority of homes will be serviced by geothermal.”  Due to the high start-up cost, I suspect that most residents will wait until a furnace or air conditioner needs to be replaced before taking advantage of the City’s geothermal program; however, if the price of the equipment continues to drop and the payback gets closer to 7 years, this program looks very promising. I’m sure other municipalities and utilities interested in offering geothermal energy on a large scale will no doubt be keeping close tabs on Wyandotte’s newest utility.

Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply