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This file contains information on three types of systems:

  • Water based geothermal systems
  • Underground copper tubes carrying a refrigerant
  • Undergound pvc tubes cooled and heated by solar energy

Geothermal Heating And Cooling

Klaus Kolb installed a Water Furnace Geothermal Heat Pump (a two ton Premier Model PO22TL101NADSSA) with a 1/2 HP Blower and a 1/2 HP Loop Pump in his South Carolina 40' American Ingenuity Dome Home. In retrospect he realizes the 40' dome needed only a 1.5 ton unit.

Klaus stated, "I buried two loops of 500' each, 1/2" special plastic pipe by Water Furnace in a 2' wide ditch 6' deep in my pasture. At that depth and in our latitude, there is a constant temperature of 59 degree F (free buried sun energy). My heat pump uses this base temperature to either heat my home dome in winter to 70 degrees or cool in summer to 75 degrees. Thus my delta T (temperature differential) is very small, resulting in minimal energy consumption."

Klaus's 2003 total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. dome. Some of the features of Klaus's 40' dome are:

  1. The dome's insulation was Ai's standard R-28 insulation (seven inch thick E.P.S. which is comparable to eleven inches of fiberglas batting).
  2. The tankless water heater used propane as the fuel. Klaus installed a Rinnai Continuum tankless (Troughflow) water heater. The specifications were: Whole House Unit Model REU 2424W-US; Min 19000 BTU, Max 180000 BTU; LP Gas.
  3. Geothermal cooling pipes were installed.
  4. The washing machine is an Energy Star which means it uses one half the water and one half the electricity of a standard washing machine.
  5. Compact fluorescents were used through out the dome. 17 watts gives 60 watts of light; 27 watts gives 100 watts of light.


These photos show Klaus Kolb installing the plastic pipe.


The following article was taken from the Summer 2009 Butte Environmental Council’s (BEC) News.   The geodesic dome home was built from American Ingenuity dome building kits.  BEC is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation.  Founded in 1975, BEC protects the land, air, and water of Butte County California through advocacy, environmental education, and information and referral services.  To view photos of the Kaufman dome home, click on Green Home.

ChicoEco Highlights a Geodesic Dome Home

By Nani Teves

Hidden among the trees in the mountain community of Forest Ranch is the most amazing example of living more responsibly by combining conservation and cutting edge.  Ron Kaufman and Marti Leicester spent four years planning and 14 months building their geothermally heated and cooled, concrete geodesic dome home, which, when all was said and done was approximately the same cost as building a traditional house of the same size.

A geodesic dome looks like the top half of a soccer ball, and theirs is two domes connected by a 12 ft length.  They used concrete as a building material because it is low maintenance, highly insulated, insect resistant, and most importantly for their area – fire resistant.  They built to optimize passive solar potential, used double pane windows and included 10 skylights that reduce the need for indoor lighting.

Throughout the house, renewable and reused building materials were used including the floor, which is made from Marmoleum, a durable linoleum made from linseed oil, jute and rosin.  For carpeted areas, 1ft by 2ft squares were used, making it possible to replace only damage areas.  Framing studs were reused to build the loft, the kitchen cabinets are bamboo and the stairs, window seats and baseboards are all make from a material called Evergrain, which consists of 50% HDPE (typically recycled milk bottles) and 50% wood fibers (typically old pallets).

One of the mot fascinating things about this house is that it uses geothermal energy for heating and cooling.  The system was expensive but they wanted to push the technology forward by experimenting.  How the system works is heat is collected from the dome interior and then pumped into the ground during cooling, and reversed during heating.  They hired an out of state company (no one was available locally or even in California) to drill four 180ft deep holes.  Crystal Air in Weaverville installed the system by placing tubing surrounded by Bentonite in the holes.  A two-way pump is run using energy from PG&E and a back-up generator, and the extra heat from this system is used to preheat the water for their on-demand tankless water heater.

Another unique feature they included in the design is a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) System.  The HRV brings in fresh air and exhausts stale air, while transferring a significant portion of the heat in the stale air to the incoming fresh air.  It also maintains a slightly positive air pressure in the dome so that pollen and dust are not drawn in through open doors and windows.

From the jars reused to hold screws, to the dome itself, this house is an example of how fun it can be to research, experiment and live outside the box.

If you want to learn more, see photos, or contact Ron and Marti go to  is a Butte Environmental Council website that pulls together our communal knowledge of eco-projects, a directory of green businesses, and a full calendar of action events for the purpose of global cooling.

To research GeoThermal Heating and Cooling Systems visit Water Furnace's web site.

Water Furnace:

To research their web site, click on Water Furnace. The following info came directly from their web site.

What's a "Water Furnace"? Water Furnace is a pioneer and industry leader in the development and manufacture of geothermal heating and cooling systems. We don't just make them. We "practice what we preach"—by heating and cooling our Fort Wayne, Indiana, headquarters with our own WaterFurnace geothermal units. After all, we could hardly expect you to believe this technology is "Smarter from the Ground Up" if we weren't convinced of it ourselves.

Our entire Fort Wayne complex serves as a working model for large-scale industrial and commercial buildings across the country. It uses what's called a "closed loop" system spread over the bottom of a pond as its heating and cooling source. Sound remarkable? It is. Yet the science behind it is sound. We'll explain it to you.


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