Home News Geothermal-powered housing development saves homeowners big bucks

Geothermal-powered housing development saves homeowners big bucks

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From above, the new 2,000-acre housing development just outside Austin, Texas looks little different. Every home has solar panels, and that’s not uncommon anymore.

But the Whisper Valley community is completely unique because of what lies beneath. Far below.

Ultimately, the master-planned community, which will include single-family homes as well as multi-family homes and garden apartments, will be built on a massive geothermal grid. It is the largest ever created for residential communities and is essentially a blueprint for greener living. It also saves residents thousands of dollars in utility bills.

The geothermal grid heats and cools every home in the community and will have over 7,500 homes when completed over the next decade. Home construction is still in its early stages, with the first homes being about two years old, but before foundations are laid or framing begins, holes are drilled in front of all lots to complete the grid. pipes were laid in

Geothermal heating and cooling is achieved by accessing a constant temperature deep underground and using water to circulate that temperature upwards. EcoSmart Solutions, a subsidiary of community developer Taurus Investment Holdings, built an energy center that pumps water 300 feet underground to access its moderate soil temperature.

“When you move 30-40 feet below your feet, the temperature stays constant at 72-74 degrees, even on the hottest days it’s 72-74 degrees, even when there’s snow on the ground,” explained Greg Wolfson. did. Chief Technology Officer at EcoSmart.

Each home’s geothermal system looks like a small furnace box. The power source is electricity, but each home is also equipped with solar panels, so even if there is a power outage, the system will not stop. Homeowners can choose a complete home battery backup that stores solar energy for overnight use.

Thurman Homes is one of five builders working on this development.

The beauty of this system is that we as builders have very little to consider outside of normal building practices,” said Michael Thurman, president and CEO of Thurman Homes. The grid itself is basically just a water installation that runs from your home through your backyard to the back of your backyard. “

The system is powered by electricity, but uses much less than traditional HVAC systems, and the solar package reduces the home’s total energy consumption by about 80%, according to EcoSmart. Homes with a median price of $460,000 cost about $10,000 more than comparable homes, and battery backup is an additional cost, but buyers should get their cash back quickly.

“Investing in geothermal saves you money from the day you move in. So we look at it as an investment, but the cost increase is not that big.” is tied

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act also provides significant benefits for commercial geothermal development. This will triple his current 10% tax credit for at least the next 10 years. Government support also shows investors that geothermal is a good bet.

“Investors need to have certainty, and without certainty they sit on the sidelines,” Wolfson said. “There were projects that were less viable or questionable, and now they are much more viable. means.”

Homeowners can also receive tax credits based on the solar and geothermal components of their homes.

Jennifer Abermonti was one of Whisper Valley’s first buyers. A transplant from the Washington, DC area, she had no intention of living in this part of the Austin area, but she was immediately drawn to the geogrid. Concerned about her environment, she said she wants to live with like-minded people. And the savings are unquestionable.

“At the moment, we are basically not paying for electricity,” Abbamonty said.

She said she was nervous about what happened in the state 18 months ago, so she invested in a battery backup.

“It’s been really nice when we don’t have to worry about keeping things working even with minor impediments,” she said.

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