MOUNT VERNON — The drilling of a geothermal well on West Vine Street in March is paying dividends for the Woodward Development Corp.
“The savings are pretty clear,” said Pat Crow, project manager for the Woodward renovation project. “We estimate we are going to save 4,000 gallons of water usage and $2,500 in natural gas per year.
“Perhaps one of the biggest savings we think we will have is about a quarter of a million dollars in equipment and investment,” he added. “That’s the real payoff of having the well.”
The water is used for the cooling system in the summer, the natural gas for heating in the winter.
Crow said that when renovation work was done at Sips and Paragraphs Bookstore in 2003, the decision was made to install a geothermal heating and cooling system. Two options were available: To drill a geothermal well, or to go with a boiler in the basement and coils on the roof. The preference was to drill a well.
“Drilling the well was our first choice because you don’t have to buy equipment; it’s a relatively low-cost system. We felt that was the right thing to do,” said Crow. “The question was, ‘Do we have the water?’ We hit the water vein we needed.”
Crow said the looped system allows heat to be extracted or added anywhere along the loop. For instance, he said, heat generated in the kitchen area at Sips can be funneled over to Paragraphs Bookstore, in essence heating one with the other.
In addition, the pipes in the system are about 1 inch in diameter, making it more attractive than a system requiring huge ductwork.
Initially, Sips and Paragraphs were the only areas served by the geothermal system.
“The CPA and barbershop and the CVB are now all on geothermal heat,” he said. “The Pink Cupcake and The Place at the Woodward are not yet added; that will come.”
Crow said some of the money saved by not having to invest in equipment could be used to figure out a way to heat water for an entire downtown block.
“The [geothermal heat system] makes it a greener building,” he said, “especially if we figure out how to use the discharged water.”
Plans call for a second well to be drilled in the future, also on West Vine Street. The second well will be bigger, so if more than a 100-gallon capacity is needed, the second well will automatically take over.