Geothermal more cost effective than corn boiler? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We are building, Lord willing, a 1800 sq ft home and have been reading here a great deal on the option of heating with corn--be it furnace, stove or boiler--we further priced out a corn boiler as we could then have in-floor heating in the basement. We have then priced that in relation to the "expensive" option of geothermal heating. We gleaned a great deal of info from this site and its wise contributors, so we thought we sould share our results--and we welcome any feedback on any points we may have missed: Geothermal to heat our home was priced at 23 000 (Canadian funds) with an air exchanger at $2 552 CDN, and excavation to put in the ground loops at $300 CDN for a grand total of $25 852 CDN (this includes infloor heating for basement, ductwork for mainfloor etc)

Pricing out of Corn Boiler: $5500 CDN, install $500 CDN (??), transport $100 CDN (??), duct work for 1800 sq ft (on main floor, then an other 1800 sq ft basement) was $3 492 CDN, air exchanger $2552 CDN, infloor heating for basement $4 235 CDN, poly bin to store the corn for boiler $1 500 CDN, furnace rad (for forced air for main floor) $400 Cdn (??), water tank $1 430 CDN, thermostats to control boiler $150 CDN, system hook up to furnace rad $400 (??) for a grand total of $20 259 CDN (this does not include the auger needed to move corn from storage of polybin to the boiler's own smaller corn bin).

So the difference is around $5 000 CDN more for geothermal than corn. Corn, however has disadvantages of maintenace with a clinker (which is around once a week for a boiler?), you have a fire in the house, still need back up heat if you go away on a holiday. There is also the issue of dust levels and the fact that you must clean all of your corn. Geothermal also includes air conditioning that obviously is not included with corn heating.

So thanks for everyone helping us sort this out. Anyone see something that we missed?

-- Ann (, April 09, 2001


Other than the cost, what I have heard against geothermal is the difficulty of finding someone to provide service if something goes wrong. If your dealer/service company is in your area, that wouldn't be a problem. If they're far away and it breaks down, can you fix it yourself? Find someone who can and is local? Stuff to think about . . . .

-- Joy F (So.Central Wisconsin) (, April 10, 2001.

What about operating costs of the geothermal system? How much electricity will the pumps require? The pumps in the corn boiler system should be much smaller than the pumps in the geothermal system. I personally prefer a simpler system that I can repair if I need to, and that isn't dependent on another outside source of energy, the electricity to run the pumps and compressors in the geothermal system in this case. I'm not sure what the answers are to the questions I ask, so I hope if you find out you will let us know.


-- Jim (, April 10, 2001.

My geothermal system cost "only" $6700 US, with me doing the flex duct work (the contractor knocked off $800 for my doing this, and it only took a half day!)

I had no excavation, however, since I was able to use well water for the heat source. My house is 3000 square feet, includiing the art studio, and the geothermal heat pump required was a three ton. Since it hardly ever has to run, though, I suppose it could have been smaller.

The water requirement for mine is 4 1/2 gallons per minute whenever the heat pump is running. A return well is smart, generally speaking, but in my case I didn't need one, as my well overflows all winter anyhow.

I've had the system for almost four years now; no problems. The unit sits in the "basement", so there is no equipment exposed to the weather.

What do you burn in a "corn boiler"? Corn cobs? Corn stalks?

By the way, my three ton unit costs eighteen cents per hour to run, including the cost of running the well pump (water in well is shallow, since it's a flowing artesian well; figure out the pumping costs for your personal situation)

I like the idea of using corn, as it's not a fossil fuel. For that matter, I use a high efficiency wood stove for a great deal of my heat, for that reason. I actually put in the heat pump more for the air conditioning, but the house, being earth sheltered and well designed, has only needed air con about five or six hours per summer.


-- jumpoff joe (, April 10, 2001.

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