Geo-Thermal: An off-the-grid option



Lee’s note: This is the first contribution from LTC Scott Daniel, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer with decades of special operations experience and multiple overseas tours. Scott has recently launched a unique consulting business, in which he is “focused on assisting individuals, families or groups with their Bug Out Land (BOL) preparation. We will help with site location, detailed planning, and physical establishment.”

His firm, Guerrilla-Base will provide an in-depth analysis of your land, geo-thermal home or cabin plans, in person or via Skype.  This should appeal to everyone, from those concerned about lessening their carbon footprint and those who want to live off the grid, to folks who are sick of paying monthly utility bills.

Scott and his family “walk the walk.” He’s in the middle of building his own geo-thermal home. He’s also an expert at survival, prepping and, of course, firearms.

We will be featuring Scott and his efforts later, in-depth, on this site and for the newspaper, but for now, here’s a glimpse:

Geothermal Homes

Story and photos by LTC Scott Daniel

Geothermal homes should be the preferred housing technique for the future.  Based upon rising electricity costs with political closings targeting the coal industry, general utility costs have no place to go but up.  Geothermal homes are far more effective and efficient.  And yes, these homes are uber Green…if you mean Green as in Financially savvy!

Geothermal is generally defined as ‘relating to the earth’s temperature’.  In short, we are using the earth’s natural heating and cooling ability’s to regulate our home’s climate.  This concept is most easily understood when comparing the natural phenomenon to the temperature in your basement.  A typical basement remains cool but is that because the air conditioning is pumped into the area?  No.  The basement remains cool because of the naturally occurring Geothermal effect upon this portion of the home.

With this effect in mind, I have built our own home in N. Florida eight feet below the surface with twelve-foot ceilings.  We used insulated concrete forms (ICF) as the building blocks, sitting on top of a stained concrete slab floor.  The roof is steel with concrete poured on top…and topped off with planted raised beds full of strawberries.  The home is a natural wonder of insulation.  I am convinced there is no better insulation than mother earth.

Heating and cooling is facilitated through a Geothermal Venting system via a GEO310 inch PVC pipe surrounding the house at footer depth.  We installed two inline duct fans pushing and pulling air through the underground PVC lines, with returns to the home.  The effect is a naturally controlled temperature inside the home.  There is no thermostat and the home maintains a 20-degree temperature variance.  N. Florida summer hits high 90s, the home maintains high 70s.  Winters will drop to mid 30s and the home will hold mid 50s.  For the vast majority of the year…the home will maintain a 65 to 75 degree range.  Yes, it is legit and it does work.

Key to success of the Geothermal home is the naturally occurring insulation from the earth’s core temperature and the protection provided from the sun through a ‘Living Roof’.  The planted dirt on your roof is the most effective insulator available…it doesn’t require any patchwork and has a lifetime warranty.  We have planted naturally growing wild grass but enjoy growing strawberries the most because of their shallow root system and lack of general maintenance.  No mowing.

Moisture is an issue you will want to address seriously while building your Geothermal home.  We used a heavy application of roofing tar to the entire perimeter of the home and then wrapped the exterior for added moisture protection.  Mold, moisture or water damage has not been a problem but we do recommend you take the time to install these protection.

As for financial cost upfront, building this way is not any cheaper from the start.  We paid at least $100 per sq foot for our home but to be fair, that also included all associated Solar power requirements as our home is ‘off the grid’.  We have our own energy (6 kw system / 110 volts) and use propane to apply any necessary heating elements such as a tankless water heater, clothes dryer or stove.  Solar power struggles to produce any substantial heat and we recommend propane for this solution.  The cost of propane is not regulated but has a very long shelf life.  As a Prepper tool, propane is only bested by Solar energy.

While Geothermal homes are not mainstream today, their usefulness and utility will increase in the very near future with the impending rise of electricity.  As a Homesteader, Prepper or Green advocate, a Geothermal home is a wise decision.

LTC Scott Daniel can be contacted via email, or through his website.




About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Robin 'Roblimo' Miller on

    Another way to use geothermal energy is to pipe water or another fluid through buried pipes, the run a heat exchanger (essentially a radiator)in your basement or utility closet. You can have a welldigger do a deep hole or you can dig trenches and lay your pipe in them. The deeper well-depth heat transfer pipes give more calories exchanged per $, I believe, and they can be installed even if you have a tiny yard.

  2. Congratulations on starting your new business! Can’t wait to hear more about your venture and wish you all the Best!

  3. Wow my dream home , No power bill, Would like to build a smaller version. Will be getting with you for more information . Thanks for your contribution. To living independently. Patriotbob

  4. I wonder if you could provide some updated pics of the home you were building. I assume it is finished now. I would like to know if it works as planned. You should consider a ground loop to heat, cool, and heat water instead of the propane. The solar could power the geothermal loop system and you would be rid of the need for propane. I really like the idea of strawberries on the roof. Provides insulation and food. Great planning. I look forward to an update.

  5. All of the research and reading I have done leads me to agree with you that geothermal is the best option as a renewable energy source. It makes the most economical sense when building. Hopefully more people will follow your example and do the same. Thanks for the enlightening article.

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