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What’s hot and what’s not: “Green” systems help

The green energy wave is helpful for businesses and homeowners looking for tax incentives as a means to offset the costs of heating and cooling their buildings. One of the more popular items these days is the geothermal heat pump.

“There’s a big push on a commercial level, and we’re getting several residential inquiries,” said Jim Hopkins, owner of Haining Refrigeration in Grand Junction.

Hopkins received three inquiries about geothermal systems in recent months, a welcome turnaround from the previous 24 months. “It’s been over two years since we had any real local activity.”

Some of the activity occurred two years ago, when Mesa State College in Grand Junction built a dormitory and retail business building on North Avenue at 10th Street. A geothermal pump uses heat from an underground loop on campus to heat water and in turn heat the dorm building. When cooling the building during warm months, the system extracts warm air from the rooms and sends it underground to be cooled. The warm air also can be used to heat water for the building. Commonly called a “geothermal” system, it’s actually a “geoexchange” system — used to both heat and cool.

People who install geoexchange or geothermal pumps can realize tax credits for such purchases made before the end of 2016.

Another popular item for some commercial uses is variable refrigerant flow. A variable compressor can ramp up as there’s increased need for hot or cool air and back off when the need is reduced during times of more moderate outdoor temperatures.

The system is less expensive than traditional heating and cooling units and is planned for the Wayne Aspinall Federal Building and Courthouse in Grand Junction, Hopkins said. The company also installed variable refrigerant flow systems at Gateway Canyons Resort and the new Ute Water facility on 22 Road.

Haining Refrigeration has installed more than 250 heating and air conditioning units on the main Mesa State College campus and plans to install 87 more in the dormitory under construction on Bunting Avenue.

Another popular item is the tankless water heater. Such systems offer an alternative to heating large tanks of water which are only occasionally needed.

“It only heats water when you’re using water,” said Terry Blevens, president of Haining Cooling, Plumbing and Heating in Grand Junction. With the tankless heater, a family of six will use about 50 percent less natural gas to heat water than it does with a traditional water heater, Blevens said

Overall, heating and cooling units have become more efficient as time goes on, said Fred Shurtleff, owner of Hawk’s Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning in Grand Junction. Owners of older homes sometimes order more energy efficient units when the home needs other work, Shurtleff said.

Mike Moran has worked as a news and sports reporter, and news manager for the past 30 years, in markets that include Rochester, New York; Colorado Springs; Panama City, Florida and Monroe, Louisiana. He also teaches Speechmaking at Mesa State College and assists his wife, Toni Heiden, in managing her real estate company in downtown Grand Junction. Mike is active in Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction, the Mesa State MBA Alumni Committee, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Botanical Gardens of Western Colorado.
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