It’s not uncommon to encounter prospective clients who heat with baseboard and would like to have air conditioning. The challenge of this situation is that air conditioning generally requires a forced-air distribution system (so the condensate can be conveniently collected and disposed of), e.g. duct work extending to every room in the house to deliver the conditioned air. With conventional systems, this is often impractical, expensive, or messy (opening up walls to run ducts vertically to the floor(s) above)… or all three.  Not necessarily so for a geothermal system that deploys a hydronic – water-based – distribution system.

Let’s take the common example of a two-story house with a full basement which has heated with baseboard for years and, thus, has no duct work.  The best and most cost-effective solution is often a system which has at its heart a “water-to-water” heat pump. “Water #1” refers to that which is in the geothermal ground loop and provides heat exchange between the heat pump and the earth; “water #2” is the medium that is heated or chilled by the heat pump then distributed throughout the house to condition its spaces. By using water as the initial means of distributing heating or cooling, we need a much smaller cavity to get from the basement (where the heating/cooling equipment is) to the attic, e.g. a utility chase, an interior wall, or a pair of closets (one above the other) as we can distribute roughly the equivalent amount of heating or chilling by water through 1-inch diameter pex tubes as we can air through a 18”x18” duct.

Air Duct and Water Pipe Diagram

Second floor conditioning is accomplished by placing a hydronic air handler in the attic and connecting to the system in basement via the pex tubing. From the air handler, we can run our duct work across the attic floor and only need to penetrate the ceilings of each room with supply and return grilles.

Air handler with duct work

Similarly, the first floor is conditioned by a separate air handler in the basement with duct work along the basement ceiling (or between the joists) to grilles in the floor above.

In addition to avoiding the mess and expense of running ducts through first-floor walls to the second floor, we’ve also created two zones – the first and second floors can be thermostatically conditioned independently. As for the pre-existing baseboard, it can be removed or tied into the new geothermal system as first- or second-stage heating.

If you’re longing for air conditioning but are currently stuck with baseboard, don’t despair. Give us a call to see if a geothermal water-to-water system could be the solution you’ve been looking for.

Lake Country Geothermal, Inc. services the Finger Lakes and Greater Rochester NY areas, including Albion, Auburn, Avon, Batavia, Bloomfield, Branchport, Brighton, Bristol, Brockport, Caledonia, Canandaigua, Clifton Springs, Clyde, Cohocton, Conesus, Churchville, Dansville, Fairport, Farmington, Gates, Geneseo, Greece, Groveland, Hamlin, Hemlock, Henrietta, Hilton, Honeoye, Honeoye Falls, Ionia, Interlaken, Irondequiot, Kendall, Keuka Park, Leroy, Lima, Livonia, Lodi, Lyons, Macedon, Marion, Macedon, Mendon, Mount Morris, Mumford, Newark, North Rose, Ontario, Ovid, Palmyra, Pavilion, Penfield, Penn Yan, Pittsford, Port Byron, Prattsbugh, Pultneyville, Red Creek, Riga, Rush, Savannah, Scottsville, Seneca Falls, Sodus, Shortsville, Spencerport, Springwater, Victor, Walworth, Wayland, Webster, Weedsport, Williamson, Wolcott, Wyoming.

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