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Lets say you have 2 options but you only have limited funds, and you are building a house or doing a significant reno.

1) Have a super high efficiency geothermal heating system installed your house with radiant floors and an air handler for cooling in the summer off of your geothermal heat pump, with say a boiler back up with indirect fired HWT, etc. With conventional 2 x4 or 2 x 6 outside walls with average batt insulation, poly vapour barrier, etc.

2) Insulate the living PISS out of your house. 2x8 or 2x10 outside walls, with the latest, high quality technology in insulation, say spray in foam with reflectix insulation as a vapour barrier if needed, etc. etc. With say just a condensing boiler with an indirect HWT and radiant floors and a radiant barrier in the attic with an attic fan for hot days, a high efficiency HRV for air exchange, etc.

Which is better? Efficiency, or conservation? Sure the premise behind them is similar but....
 

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If it was me, I would make sure the house was as well insulated and tight as possible first. The lower the initial heat loss, the less it's going to cost to heat it regardless of the system installed. Radiant heat is comfortable but will not make a huge difference in heating cost. I would go with a Buderus 115 series boiler and their indirect water heater for domestic. Keep it simple. All the bells and whistles cost a lot to buy and install. The less piping, the less piping loss. The less circulating pumps the lower the electricity cost.
 

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I always advise my clients to look at their building envelope. What's the sense of installing a higher end boiler at $10,000.00 plus in some cases if the heat energy just leaves the envelope?
 
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