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What It Is: Geothermal In Action

Esperanza Del Sol - Texas

Barbara Harwood, developer:

"I built this project, Esperanza Del Sol, which means "Hope of the Sun" in Spanish, because I wanted to show that affordable housing could be beautiful, energy efficient, resource efficient, and environmentally friendly. We chose geothermal basically for two reasons. The first was the environment and the second was for the benefit of our homeowners.

"The environment benefits when you use less fuel. Geothermal uses less fuel, it's therefore cleaner. It also reduces the peak load greater than any other system. If you reduce peak load, you eliminate the need to build more power plants that are polluting. We expect the utility cost to be a dollar per day or less. In fact, in this model which has been opened for a year, the real cost for heating and cooling is 84 cents per day.

"We were the very first ECL house in the nation and this subdivision will be the first ECL subdivision in the nation. We also won an award from EEBA, the Energy Efficient Building Association. We were their demonstration home. This model is their demonstration home and the videotape that we show in this model is being used by the Department of Energy to demonstrate how buildings ought to be done in this climate zone.

"We also received a special recognition award from the Edison Electric Institute for energy efficiency and for environmentally friendly homes."

Bryan Whitsun, TU Electric:

"At TU Electric, we have analyzed geothermal heat pump systems, air-to-air systems and gas conventional systems for a home. Geothermal systems are the best for our company due to lower system peaks, higher load factors, and the benefits that a customer receives such as lower bills and more comfort.

"On a house of this size, we normally would have installed approximately two and a half tons of air conditioning. But due the structure itself and how energy efficient it is, we're able to put in one and a half tons of air conditioning on this home without any backup resistance heat to help heat the structure in the winter.

"In Texas, fire ants have also become a very large problem. We have many units that have service problems every year due to the fire ants being attracted to the 60-cycle noise generated by the outdoor condensing unit. We can avoid this problem with the geothermal system located inside."

Steve Lauten, Total Air & Heat Company:

"TU Electric decided to take on this project when Barbara Harwood of BBH Enterprises came to us to let us know that she was going to be building some very super-efficient structures and homes for the moderate to low-income buyers. One of the things we wanted to accomplish by this was to provide her home buyers and our customers with the most efficient, lowest operating cost type of system that we could install."

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