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Geothermal slowly catching on in West Chester

Most people dread getting their first heating bill of the season. Not Doug McConatha. He’s looking forward to getting his bill. Having just had a new geothermal system installed, he’s wondering just how little he will be paying. McConatha is one of just a handful of homeowners in West Chester with geothermal systems. New technology has made it possible for people living in rural areas and businesses to have them installed.

The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant in Þing...

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“The price of oil has gotten so expensive, and I’m looking for a way to increase the value of my home at the same time,” McConatha said. “This will also provide me with air conditioning as well, which I haven’t had in the 20 years I’ve lived here.”

Geothermal systems on average are about 75 percent more efficient that oil heating systems. And no fuel is used to generate the power. For homes with existing zone-based heating and cooling, the systems can be fully integrated for a combination of energy savings.

“No doubt folks are starting to jump into it for its green aspect,” said Ernie McNeeley, West Chester borough manager. “We only have four or five residential installations in the borough, but I see a trend because they are becoming financially feasible.”

The federal government recently extended a 30 percent rebate on new geothermal installations. In addition, there are state incentives and a PECO energy rebate. In McConatha’s case, his $42,000 installation actually will cost him $29,000 out of pocket after all the energy incentives. On top of that, geothermal is so energy efficient, McConatha said he will will recoup his investment in just 6.2 years.

The combination of rebates, slashed energy costs and advancing technology is indeed a powerful marketing tool for geothermal contractors to woo residential customers. John J. Costa of Horizon Services, the Wilmington company that installed McConatha’s system, said that in 20 years, McConatha will have saved enough to put a child through college. “Geothermal is the future,” Costa said. “Right now the industry is clouded because there are cheap systems out there. But we only put in Bosch systems that have twice the longevity of the standard system. If you spend this kind of money, you want to go with something good.”

Many homeowners, like McConatha, are choosing geothermal because their bills will not increase no matter how high the price of oil goes. And also because the systems are green. “I will be using a lot less electricity, and will be tapping the earth’s natural resources because this thing is 400 feet below surface,” McConatha said. “This is a rare event for West Chester,” Costa said of McConatha’s installation. “It’s difficult to do in a situation like West Chester because you just don’t have the space to operate.” Costa said West Chester is becoming known as one of the friendliest municipality for geothermal installations. West Chester University is geothermal, and Costa said borough officials encourage it despite the limited ground some homeowners have.

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Officials Urge Storm Preparedness

Some residents remain without power after Saturday’s storm and are reminded that, for future storms, personal preparedness is crucial. “The first thing we do is we urge everybody to be prepared, to take personal preparedness seriously,” said Robert Kagel, spokesman for the county’s Emergency Services Department. “Be sure to think about the things you need every single day of your life and know where they are so you can gather them quickly and be prepared.” Kagel said heavy clothing and winter blankets ought to be added to personal emergency kits should any kind of emergency arise during the winter season.

The emergency services department coordinates with hospitals, dialysis center providers, schools and home health care agencies, so that each one has a plan in the face of extreme weather, such as snowstorms, and that each has a generator and is well-staffed. “We’re ready for whatever Mother Nature is going to throw at us,” said Kagel. Kagel said the department will be prepared and is in close contact with the National Weather Service and commercial weather systems, although predictions about this winter season’s snowfall have yet to be made. “There’s nothing that’s pointing to being above or below normal (yet), so it’s tough to say what we’re going to see this winter,” said Jason Krekeler, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in central Pennsylvania.

 

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Bam Margera’s new Porsche smashed by pickup

Brandon “Bam” Margera, the risk-taking star of the Jackass franchise, had to call 911 Thursday afternoon when his new Porsche had a run in with a pickup truck on a country road close to his

Porsche Panamera outside of the Porsche-Museum...

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Chester County home. State Police said Margera was “stopped at a properly posted stop sign” at 1:48 p.m. on southbound Locust Grove Road at Corrine Road in Pocopson Township when an unidentified driver of a Ford pickup who was turning onto Locust Grove Road sideswiped Margera’s 2011 Porsche Panamera.

“The fact that the driver was Bam had no bearing on the investigation,” said Trooper Corey Monthei, a state police spokesman from the Avondale barracks. Monthei said the incident qualified as a “non-reportable crash” since no one was injured, no vehicle was towed, and no sign of drug or alcohol impairment existed. He said it was not unusual that the truck driver was not cited.

“That occasionally happens,” Monthei said. “I don’t know the specifics here, but sometimes there are reasons for not filing charges; sometimes we’ll just issue a warning.” Monthei said it appeared that Margera, who has elevated a penchant for risk-taking high jinks into a lucrative career, was simply the victim of a minor accident. A West Chester native, Margera skateboarded to fame on MTV’s Jackass, a venue for stupid human tricks that led to a succession of popular movies.

The accident comes four months after Margera’s best friend and costar Ryan Dunn crashed his 2007 Porsche in Chester County’s West Goshen Township – a fiery speed- and alcohol-fueled wreck that killed Dunn and his only passenger. For a free car insurance quote check out http://www.kimberleyvassal.com today!

 

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Special Event Today!

Ryan Sheckler and the rest of Etnies skate team will be joining our friends from Fairman’s Skate Shop at 5:00PM at the Providence Skate Spot for a demo and team signing. Do not miss out on this! For more information see the flyer below or visit www.fairmans.com!

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The Gift of West Chester

Do you know someone who is hard to shop for? Now you can never go wrong with a West Chester Gift Card!  Available in any amount from $10 to $500, each Gift Card comes with a directory of downtown shops and restaurants. It’s the perfect way of insuring that the perfect gift is found and enjoyed! Purchase your West Chester Gift Card here.

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Ghost Tours of West Chester Continue this Friday

The Ghost Tours of West Chester is a walking tour with tales of ghosts, folklore and history. Your guide will lead you on a 90-minute walk through the spooky lanes of downtown neighborhoods where you’ll explore the land of the shadow people, learn of lost souls of the Underground Railroad, and hear about the West Chester gallows where horse thieves and murderers were hanged. New stories and tours added for the season.

The Ghost Tours of West Chester occur every Friday & Saturday night in October and start at The Lincoln Room (28 West Market, 610-696-2102). Tours begin at 8:00 pm and doors open at 7:00 pm rain or shine. Courtyard Grill will be open for light sandwiches, snacks and beverages before the tours. Price is $10 per person ages 5 years and up. Reservations required; call 610-696-2102.

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The Insurance Beer Snob Brought to you by KVIS

Bill Jeppe is Kimberley Vassal Insurance’s official Beer Snob. This is a new segment to our blog; Bill Jeppe of Kimberley Vassal Insurance will review a specialty beer every month and give his personal review. This week he reviews the Russian Imperial Stout from Iron Hill located in our very own town of West Chester, P.A.

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