Monday, December 12, 2011

We failed...

When it came right down to it, I wasn't able to put down the money.  For a new geothermal system, that is.  The bid was about $30,000.  That price would have been offset by a $10,000 tax credit, for a total cost of (if my math is correct) about $20,000.

We signed the contract, opened a line of credit at a local bank, but at the last moment we called off the project. It would have greatly lowered our carbon footprint.  Other concerns trumped green heat:  the need to construct a new deck on our home, two aging automobiles, and uncertainty with my wife's employment situation.

It makes me wonder now if I'm going to be able to pull the trigger on a Chevy Volt purchase.  I've been waiting years to buy this car, but at $40,000 (before tax breaks) its just beyond our grasp.

Even if our hearts are in the right place, and even if we really want to embrace new technologies that will help lower our carbon foot prints, eventually we will have to come face to face with that price tag.  In my case, as a middle-class who cares about the earth, I wasn't able to do it.

Uncertainty about the future is the first problem:  I wasn't able to take on additional financial risk while not having great confidence in the future.

High prices were the second problem. Even with a government tax rebate, the price was just too high for us.

We will continue saving, and will re-evaluate the geothermal heat this summer.   But one thing I've learned... I can't make these kinds of significant financial decisions on a whim, even if I desperate want to adopt and help these green technologies. The prices simply must come down.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Going Geothermal in Minnesota

My wife and I decided to take a step forward in the greening of our lifestyle. We've signed a contract to install a geothermal heat pump. It will be going in over the next two months. It will consist of seven wells, each 180' deep. This is over sized for our 2400 square foot home, but we think the extra capacity will help the efficiency of our system.

The entire system will cost about $27,000. A 30% federal tax rebate will shave about $8100 off the system. Our electric coop will pay about another $2000. For less than the cost of an average vehicle, we believe we will conserve about 50% of our heating costs while lowering our carbon emissions.

In fact, I have been holding off buying a new car for several years. I'm still driving my 2004 Mercury Mountaineer. It is a gas pig, but for years now I have vowed to drive it until I can buy a Chevy Volt or a Nissan Leaf. Those vehicles are not available in my area yet. Hopefully, I'll get the bank loan paid off on the geothermal system about the time my Mountaineer is ready for the recycling heap, and use the line of credit to buy the Volt.

Extra costs for the geothermal system will include the electrical wiring, and landscaping to repair the damage to our backyard and sprinkler system.

Our propane furnace will remain installed so that we will qualify for the low dual-heat rate, which is $.051 instead of .097, a big savings.

The permitting process is underway. I'll post some pictures.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 - Will I Finally be able to buy a Chevy Volt This Year?

I've been waiting years to get a Chevy Volt. I started following this story around 2007, and have watched the car go from concept, to almost total elimination in GM's bankruptcy, to a reality. Still, the Volt is not scheduled to be in show rooms in my area until 2012. I hope that means that the 2012 models will be in Minnesota sometime in late 2011, rather than late 2012.

Meanwhile, my 2004 Mercury Mountaineer is beginning to show its age. I've held off buying a new car on the hopes that my next car will be a Volt. I like the Nissan Leaf and the new electric Ford Focus, but I live in the countryside. A round trip to the city for me is 100 miles, which the Leaf may barely be able to do, but its cutting it too close. With a lack of electric charging stations, I need the Volt's gas powered electric engine in order to avoid range anxiety.

Volt is a terrific idea. I've been ready to buy for years, as this blog will attest. Come on, GM! Lets ramp up the rollout! Customers are waiting.