GeoThermal Pool Heating: Six Lakes Country Club’s Solution to Rising Propane Costs
Are you considering switching from propane to GeoThermal pool heating? This article from the Six Lakes Country Club is a must-read.
Skyrocketing propane costs caused Six Lakes Country Club in North Fort Myers, who uses propane pool heaters, to consider other heating methods. Since meeting Board Treasurer Tom Goldsmith at an HOA tradeshow, we’ve been working with the Six Lakes Board of Directors on a plan to exchange their propane pool heaters for a GeoThermal pool heating system. The board carefully weighed the costs of propane vs. GeoThermal. They concluded that the GeoThermal system will pay for itself in three years or less and continue to provide energy savings in the future.
Mr. Goldsmith wrote the following article, The GeoThermal Solution, to inform the Six Lakes HOA members of the reasons behind the board’s decision to go GeoThermal. The article provides a brief but excellent overview of GeoThermal technology, as well as an authentic cost comparison of GeoThermal and propane pool heaters. In presenting the benefits of GeoThermal, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
The Geothermal Solution
By Tom Goldsmith, Board Treasurer, Six Lakes Country Club
With the rise in fuel costs this past year, our propane costs are way over budget. When we calculated our propane budget last fall, the managers and Budget Committee thought $32,000 for the year would be sufficient, but we have already spent more than that in the first six months.
At a recent HOA services trade show, I was introduced to geothermal technology by Symbiont Service Corp. of Englewood, Florida. Symbiont is a family-owned Florida company which has been installing geothermal water source pool heaters since the early 1980’s, when its founder, Roy King, invented the technology. At the time, the cost of gasoline, natural gas and electricity was skyrocketing, and everyone was looking for alternatives that were more energy efficient. Roy’s inspiration came when he realized that Florida’s groundwater was always warm and didn’t vary more than a degree or two all year. Heat pumps were used to heat homes, but Roy designed a geothermal heat pump to heat swimming pools, and installed the first one in March 1983.
Since then, Symbiont Service Corp. has installed hundreds of geothermal pool heaters in Lee County alone. Now run by Roy’s daughter Sandy, the company strives to provide the most cost effective and energy efficient pool/spa heating and cooling system available today. The geothermal system is 70-90% cheaper to run than our propane heaters, and the pumps will last more than twice as long – averaging 15-20 years, compared with 5-10 years for our present propane heaters. Once the system is in place, the only energy costs are for the electricity used by the compressor and pumps. The system is also capable of cooling the pool in summer, something our propane heaters cannot do.
In addition to cost efficiency, geothermal technology is eco-friendly, reducing our carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels. The system uses water from a deep lake or a well drilled for this purpose as its heat source. Although the water in the pipe is never removed, the heat is extracted through a heat exchange unit and delivered to the pump to meet the temperature set by the thermostat.
Symbiont specializes in this technology, and because our propane pumps will shortly need replacement, it seemed a perfect time to consider better systems, and the Board members agreed. In April, I invited Symbiont to visit Six Lakes to take measurements for an accurate quote, and to provide additional information on their system. It is safe to say that the geothermal solution will save our community a great deal of money.
We now have the Symbiont quote in hand, and, while the initial purchase of a geothermal system is not inconsequential, it will pay for itself by eliminating the need for propane to heat our pool, which is the bulk of our propane consumption. (The Wedge uses some propane) The initial cost of installation is between $80,000 and $105,000, depending on which water source we choose. By eliminating the need for propane for the pool and the replacement of heaters every five years, the system will pay for itself in as little as three years, after which we will enjoy the continued savings for years to come.
After meeting with Symbiont, I talked with two nearby communities that currently use Symbiont geothermal for heating their pools and spas. Tamiami Village has four pools and one spa. They installed a well type system, with eight wells, two for each pool. Their maintenance manager told me that prior to switching, they used propane fired gas heaters, and they were replacing heaters every four years and changing burners once or twice a year. Since changing to geothermal four years ago, they have only had one small issue, which Symbiont fixed promptly. They maintain a pool temperature of 88 degrees and a spa temperature of 103 degrees. Herons Glen switched five years ago, opting for an open lake loop system. They keep their pool at 87 degrees and the spa at 103 degrees, and have had no problems maintaining those temperatures. The maintenance superintendent told me he has been thoroughly impressed with the operation of the system.
Geothermal is one of the oldest types of power used by humans. With all the recent talk of solar, wind, and other ways we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, I believe we’d be missing a great opportunity if we don’t seriously consider this system. Steve Olds of Symbiont has agreed to explain to our community the advantages of geothermal heating for our pool and exactly how it works. Please join us for a Town Hall type meeting with him in the Pelican on August 10th at 1:00 for this presentation. Meanwhile, feel free to visit their website at symbiontservice.com.
Article originally published in the August 2022 Six Lakes Country Club Board Report Newsletter. Posted here with permission.