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GEOTHERMAL REVISITED: A look back at Bill Judd’s System

GEOTHERMAL REVISITED: A look back at Bill Judd’s System
~ By Holly Haining-Zulieve

We thought it might be a useful exercise to catch up with customers previously featured in Customer Corner articles. We wanted to learn how various systems have been performing and share the results with all of you.

Bill’s story was first featured in the January 2013 issue of PIPELINE, but the relationship actually began in 2008, soon after Bill had purchased the post & beam farmhouse on the Damariscotta River. Coincidentally, we also had installed the plumbing for the original owner when the house was built in 2002. Bill bought the house with the intention to transform its mechanical systems according to his own specific energy efficient requirements and we were pleased that he asked MCES to orchestrate the process. The old boiler was replaced with a new, highly efficient NTI propane unit, and then added a mini split heat pump to the sunroom to supplement the room’s solar gain and radiant floor heat on the coldest days of the year. Finally in 2012, MCES installed a geothermal heating system – the piece de resistance to Bill’s vision.

Recently, I paid Bill a visit to find out how things were going with the new systems since my interview with him five years ago. He reported that things had, in fact, gone well and according to the plan. He said that the house has remained comfortable primarily due to the geothermal system that supplies all of the heating and domestic hot water, including radiant heat in the basement and first floors and a ductless heat pump on the second floor. Bill also burns an average of two cords of wood per year in his centrally located woodstove. According to Bill, all systems have been working together by harmoniously performing their specific functions, so-much-so, that these days he rarely thinks about it.


Bill says that in 2014, within the first 24 months after the geothermal system was installed, a “few bugs” had to be worked out. We solved the problem with the addition of a small pressure tank, and upgrading from a relay unit to a new control switch that allows for better communications between the geothermal & propane units. Happily, since those changes were made none of the mechanical systems have required no further attention.


Today, with all of the homes heating being driven primarily by geothermal, Bill enjoys bumping up the thermostat much higher than before. Because propane is only needed during sub-zero temperatures, Bill’s combined utilities costs have gone down.


Bill Judd

Bill Judd sits with his Corgi Rudy in the sunroom of his Damariscotta home. Bill added the sunroom in 2008 and hired MCES to install a mini split heat pump to supplement the room’s solar gain on the coldest days of the year. Bill sits among orchids and other flowering plants he nurtures, such as bromeliads.

• Geothermal systems produce zero carbon monoxide and greenhouse gas emissions.
• Depending on current fuel costs (that fluctuate wildly from year to year) operating efficiencies have been known to provide up to 70% savings versus traditional heating and cooling equipment.
• A geothermal system operates the same whether you are in Maine or Miami. Heat is moved into the earth in the summer, and removed from the earth in the winter.
• Geothermal requires very little maintenance; because geothermal systems have one-third of the moving parts as traditional HVAC equipment.
• It takes one unit of electricity for a geothermal heating & cooling system to move up to 4 units of cooling or heating from the earth to a building.

What Happened to Solar?

THEN AND NOW: What Happened to Solar? ~ By Gina Philippon

Those of us who pre-buy our heating fuel eagerly await that notice in the mail or the banner hanging across Main Street advertising the per gallon price for the approaching heating season. It was the summer of 2008 when the price for heating oil was advertised by some dealers at or above $5.00 / gal. I can clearly remember the collective outrage, anger, frustration and fear that we all felt over those prices and the fingers of blame being pointed at government, politicians, speculators, big oil and OPEC. However frustrated we were, those prices were our reality and we had to find a way to survive with them.

At MCES we had been installing solar hot water collection systems for some time on a limited basis but the demand for alternatives to fossil fuel seemed to go wild that summer and the few years following. We were visiting homes, designing and estimating solar hot water systems as fast as we could. The demand was strong and sales were brisk. The evacuated tube arrays were big sellers followed by the Velux flat plate collectors. A well designed and installed solar hot water system could produce 65% – 70% of a homes annual hot water needs. Most during the summer months with some limited production in the winter. Federal Tax Credits helped to offset the $10,000 + cost of installing a typical system.
During the few years following that price spike, prices came down, leveled off and we all got accustomed to budgeting for our energy. As that happened, solar demand dropped to nearly nothing. The actual reason is unknown but likely is a combination of becoming accustomed to prices, fuel prices dropping and the advent of the heat pump water heater.

A $3,000 hybrid electric heat pump water heater can produce as much renewable hot water as a $10,000 solar collection and storage system. The heat pump water heater takes up less space, can be installed in one day, requires nearly no maintenance and currently Efficiency Maine is offering a $750.00 rebate while funds are available and eligibility requirements are met. Demand for heat pump water heaters has been strong for several years and MCES has installed dozens of them.

There are other factors that contributed to the decreased demand for solar systems. Higher efficiency factors for electric water heaters, high efficiency propane and natural gas boilers paired with indirect fired water heaters and on-demand continuous flow propane water heaters are a few reasons. If you are interested in saving fuel, saving money, saving the environment or a combination of all three, a heat pump water heater may be a good option for you. Call 1-800-890-7196 today for your no cost quote.


Over the past several years, more and more of our customers have become interested in learning about heat pumps for obvious reasons.  Ductless heat pumps are an attractive & highly efficient way to heat and cool an area because they extract heat from outdoor air (even when it is very cold) and deliver heat energy into homes and businesses in the winter and cool air in the summer.

Ductless heat pumps (or “mini-split”) distribute heat and cooling directly to the spaces where they are installed, rather than through a ducted system.  They have an outdoor unit connected to an indoor unit via small, copper refrigerant lines. By using these lines instead of ducts, these ductless systems are (usually)  easily retrofitted into existing homes, apartment buildings, and commercial spaces. They also serve to minimize distribution losses due to air leaks.

Right now, rebates of up to $750 and low-interest financing is available on eligible units.  $500 rebates are available toward installation of ductless heat pumps that provide a single or first zone of heating in your home. An additional rebate of $250 is available for ductless heat pump installations that provide a second zone of heating in your home. 

Does your home smell musty?


When humidity is high, your AC systems have to work harder to cool your home. If you have an older or wrong sized system, it is no doubt running inefficiently and working too hard and it may not be able to bring the result you are seeking.


The air in your home may feel warmer than it actually is because the air is holding extra moisture that isn’t being removed properly. If this is the case, the system or unit has to work harder without providing optimum results and leading to higher utility bills.  remote


In order to have your home comfortable cool and dry in summer months, it is important to have an HVAC professional size your system properly as each home is unique.


Maine homes create a unique challenge for AC as many are older and unfortunately, don’t have a convenient space to install ductwork for a traditional central air-conditioning system. Lowering ceilings or building out walls to hide supply and return ducts is expensive, and can blemish indoor spaces.


If you own an older home, ductless mini-split heat pumps may be the answer.  Not to mention the AC quality, a heat pump works in Maine’s tough winters (provided a house is well insulated and air sealed) and is cost-efficient to operate, especially in the transitional months during autumn and spring.  It’s quiet, clean, and comfortable, and most can be installed in just one day.heat pump

With Bonus of Air Conditioning; Demand for Heat Pumps Remains High

The heat pump is a high efficiency heating and cooling appliance that uses electricity to produce low cost heat by compressing refrigerant.  The Mitsubishi ductless unit is a popular option with homeowners.   As the temperature rises and the humidity level increases, a ductless air conditioning heat pump will be a welcomed addition to your home.  Quiet and efficient, ductless air conditioners and heat pumps are available in many sizes to suit any room or home.  Without the mess, wait or destruction of conventional air conditioning, heat pumps can often be installed in one day so that you can enjoy the cool dry air without the wait.remote
Although Homeowners have been enjoying lower oil prices for a brief time, we all know that prices will rise sooner or later.  Those who need to replace heating systems are still looking for efficient fossil fuel alternatives that save money, take up less space and above all, provide a more “responsible” heat source than previously available.
In addition to the added benefit of air conditioning, a heat pump will help to reduce your heating costs this fall when the weather turns colder.  When fuel costs increase you will be happy knowing that your heat pump will be just as efficient and comfortable in the cold weather as in the hot summer months; saving you money all year.
But wait, there is another heat pump that will save money, is affordable, and equally efficient.  It is the Heat Pump Water Heater.  Inexpensive to install, it is available as a stand-alone unit, or an addition to your existing water heater.  Benefits of a heat pump water heater include reduced cost per gallon for your domestic hot water and dehumidification.

Nyle Systems of Brewer Maine, manufactures an add-on heat pump called the GEYSER®, suitable for most storage tank water heaters from 40 gallons to 120 gallons.  Heat is pulled from the surrounding air and utilizing heat pump technology. That energy is then used to heat the water in your tank. Even the small amount of electricity used to operate the GEYSER® is converted to heat.  If your water heater is in need of replacement consider replacing it with an electric hybrid heat pump water heater or adding a Geyser to your existing tank.

mini split

The Bonus of Heat Pumps + Air Conditioning!

As the temperature rises and the humidity level increases, a ductless air conditioning heat pump will be a welcomed addition to your home.  Quiet and efficient, ductless air conditioners and heat pumps are available in many sizes to suit any room or home.  Without the mess, without the wait and without the destruction of a conventional air conditioner, heat pumps can often be installed in one day so that you can enjoy the cool dry air without the wait.


That added benefit of the heat pump your Mitsubishi will help to reduce your heating costs this fall when the weather turns colder.  When fuel costs increase (and they will) you will be happy knowing that your heat pump will be just as efficient and comfortable in the cold weather as in the hot summer months,  saving you money all year.

outside heat pumpheat pump

As a Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor, Mid-Coast Energy Systems has reached the highest level of accreditation from Mitsubishi Electric Heating and Cooling that a contractor can reach. Our Technicians are factory trained in Mitsubishi products; we have invested the time to develop personalized, hands-on expertise in sales, installation and service.  We are proud to provide the most professional, competent installation and maintenance with the most reliable efficient comfort available from a Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating system.  By providing continual education and in-house training, we can provide our customers with the best trained technicians in the HVAC industry.


Our Mitsubishi Diamond Contractor status means that our customers receive a seven year limited warranty on compressors, and seven years on parts. What could be simpler – or more reassuring? This is an exclusive benefit that only Mitsubishi Diamond Contractors like Mid-Coast Energy Systems can offer. MCES is pleased to offer a 10% savings on all Mitsubishi components for the entire month of May.  (Discount is on Evaporator and condenser only.)

Geothermal could make your Life Better

Many people ask us how Geothermal Heating & Cooling Works…

Here’s How……


Geothermal Heat Pumps use the nearly constant temperature underground to heat or cool a buildings interior

  1. Ground loops filled with fluid absorb heat in the winter and release it in the summer.
  2. The evaporator transfers heat from the ground loops to refrigerant fluid circulating in the system.
  3. The compressor increases the pressure on the fluid to raise its temperature.
  4. The desuperheater takes some of the excess heat and routes it to the hot water heater.
  5. A reversing valve lets the heat pump switch directions to either heat or cool the building.
  6. The expansion valve lowers the fluid’s pressure and temperature so that it flows toward the evaporator, and the cycle starts again.



  • Comfort: In homeowner surveys, these systems are routinely ranked as “more comfortable” than conventional gas, oil or electric systems. They provide a more comfortable and even heat with no odor of fuel.


  • Quiet: Also provides air conditioning eliminating the need for the traditional noisy outdoor A/C unit.


  • Longevity: Has a life expectancy of at least twenty years.


  • Environmental Factor: Geo systems are an environmentally conscientious choice.  You can immediately cut your emissions up to fifty percent: the equivalent of taking several cars off the road.


  • Generous Tax Credits: Are set to END in December of 2016.