Here is what I have:
1. I have 4000 sq. ft residence in Chicago land with many glass windows facing west (this helps a lot in the winter and is absolutely miserable during summer) 2. Two older (10 years) Carrier or Bryant (who cares) A/C units 3 ton each per floor 3. Two considerably oversized 110000 Input BTU Carrier 80 plus 2 forced air gas heaters 4. Two 50 Gal gas water heaters 5. Well water (private well) bringing very hard water at 53F all year 6. A retention pond outside the residence where I can hopefully discharge processed water.
Here is the list of known issues which I have to resolve before I embark on this project:
1. Ensure consistent supply of well water inside the house @ 30-40 GPM??!! 2. Provide adequate well water conditioning (can't use chemical water softener due to prohibitive cost and maintenance) in order to avoid any scaling and possible damage to extensive future plumbing set up, heat exchangers, etc.. I heard that there was a new development in water treatment by Honeywell available only in Europe. 3. Find very efficient water/air and air/air heat exchangers which of course would be a function of size, material, GPM input and output T. 4. Find very efficient all electrical on-demand hot water boiler, I am open to all suggestions from your guys because this technology is light years ahead in Europe. 5. Install proper attic ventilation (Attic Fans)
Here is my plan of revamping the whole set-up: First of all, I am planning to use water as a main cooling and heating media. Secondly, I would like to use extensively smart ventilation in order to reduce heat/cooling load and conserve well water as much as I can (I know that I have a pretty strong well but still pulling 15-30 GPM to cool a house is a scary prospect).
While most builders concern is focused on home air tightness and size of the mechanical systems, proper ventilation of the home is often overlooked. Also, in terms of indoor air quality and pollution control, ventilation may be even more important. For instance, in my house, the only mechanical ventilation systems installed are 3 poorly made and noisy bathroom fans (two upstairs and one downstairs). These fans are seldom used for extended periods due to their high noise level, and are completely inadequate for ensuring proper ventilation to an entire house.
I am also planning to take the air from solar heated areas of the house (including the attic) and distribute it all around the house during the winter time. Obviously, during summer I would like to use strategically installed exhaust fans to pull very hot and humid air from those areas of the house were I have high vaulted ceilings. However in this particular case I am not sure what size heat exhaust fans I need as well as how to deal with the problem of creating negative air pressure when system is not running.
I also decided to implement forced air ventilation where I can bring an ample quantity of fresh outside air to keep my house under comfortable temperature condition when keeping the windows open is not really an option due to heavy rain or those situations when open windows pose some serious security concerns. In addition to forced air ventilation, I would like to use the same delivery mechanism for air/air heat exchange instead of water/air as another alternative to well water when the outside temperature is good enough to completely shut off the well water supply. I would also like to conserve the water table whenever it is possible; therefore, if the outside temperature is close to 50F I would want to use an air/air heat exchange rather than a water/air one. Obviously, if the temperature drops below a certain point, such as 40F (I leave the decision of that optimal temperature to those professionals who are more knowledgeable than myself), I would have to cut off the air supply and turn on the water loop to increase energy efficiency of the future unit.
I am also planning to use heat pipe technology, if you are not familiar with them you can visit their site at http://www.heatpipe.com/ and learn about their products and technology behind it. So in very simplified view my future system 1st stage will consist of a heat pipe and two heat exchanges (water/air and air/air between them). During the summer months, not even properly designed water to air heat exchange (I am not talking about various car evaporators) will be able to produce comfortable dry air in the hot and humid Chicago climate; therefore, I am sure that I have to add a dehumidification stage. It looks like I have to design the future system (2nd stage) with a refrigeration circuit with Freon line being cooled with the same water leaving water exchange. I want to stress that I am not at all interested to buy a pre-packaged Water Furnace or Florida Heat Pump geothermal heat pump because the only time I would need them is in the winter and I never found a dual system capable of working in both modes (water or air). Now you probably see all my reasons why I have not even slightest interest in installing a Geothermal Heat Pump operating with an Open Loop as it provides me with no flexibility whatsoever.
So, the real question is, what do I do in winter time as I have a heat sink coming to my house at 48-53F? Can I use a properly designed dehumidification stage to reverse it and heat the air? I can leave the current gas heaters but I hate to do that because local Gas Utility is simply another monopoly which is charging whatever they want for gas during the winter season (so, it is a matter of principal if you will). I really want to get rid of gas utility all together and go electric. Talking to numerous people, I realize that I have to build the system without using pre-packaged solution unless somebody here can direct me to the right people.
And the last wish, I would appreciate any input, constructive criticism even flame regarding my proposed ideas and design, but please spare me from any suggestions on other geothermal alternatives, including closed loop systems as well as any single function commercially available units.