Arbor Acres Community Joins the Geothermal Movement

The trend of installing ground source heat pumps as opposed to traditional heat pumps in larger housing and building developments continues in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at an assisted living and retirement community. The Arbor Acres retirement community has begun construction on two new buildings which will both feature geothermal heat pump systems.The GeoExchange system, installed by Landmark Builders, will involve digging 132 wells on the 2-acre site. Each well will be 400-ft deep to create an open loop field connected by 15 miles of geothermal piping. The open loop field will be large enough to heat and cool both new buildings.The two building additions will function as a new assisted living wing and MemoryCare center that will be connected by a breezeway. The expansion will not only provide one central location for assisted living but also add six assisted living beds and twelve MemoryCare beds. Construction of the 8,500 square foot MemoryCare building is expected to be complete by December while the 117,000 square foot assisted living center as set to open by the end of 2011.A Wise InvestmentWhile the new geothermal heat pump system installation will require a hefty upfront cost, Les Cranfill, the director of buildings and grounds for Arbor Acres, believes the investment is well worth it for a number of reasons. First of all, the community is committed to going green and reducing their carbon footprint. The 400% efficiency and 70% renewable energy factor make geothermal heat pumps extremely eco-friendly.Second, Cranfill sees the geothermal heat pump system as a long-term investment. With the savings on energy bills the community will see, the system should pay for itself. "We're looking at, right now, about a five-to-seven-year payback on our investment," Cranfill said.Well-Established TechnologyThe Arbor Acres community does not have to worry about their new green technology functioning inconsistently. Geothermal heat pumps are a tried and true technology and as they say in the industry, the sun doesn€™t have to shine and the wind doesn€™t have to blow for them to function. So while you may not see geothermal heat pump installations everyday, Paul Quinlan, the deputy director for the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association in Raleigh believes we will start seeing more and more installations as awareness increases.Do you already have a geothermal heat pump installed? Do you know someone who does? Enter the "Free Heat Beneath Your Feet" Sweepstakes for your chance to win free electric this winter!