While most of us are trying to figure out how to handle higher heatingcosts this winter, the Oelwein Community School District has already foundthe answer. The school district recently installed a geothermal heating andcooling system in their middle school. Project Manager Tom Balster oversawthe installation of the system. The system uses the ambient heat of theearth, about 55 degrees, to heat or cool air that is pumped underground.Balster, who works for Alliant Energy, says the geothermal system will savethe district money. The system runs from 20 to 70 percent cheaper and inOelwein it’s estimated it will save 30-thousand dollars a year. Balster saysthe systems are more expensive in private homes, but comparable in pricewhen used for school or office buildings. Oelwein Middle School PrincipalJohn Amick says the district is considering using geothermal systems inother buildings. The school district used a 850-thousand dollar low intrestloan from the State Department of Natural Resources to pay for the middleschool system.
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