From geo to conventional, ACG does it
By Mark Sherry
Dan Walsdorf (left) and Sean Steffes are the owners of Advanced Custom Geothermal, a Kiel-based business which also services and installs all types of conventional heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment.

Advanced Custom Geothermal continues to be one of eastern Wisconsin’s leading geothermal heating and cooling contractors while also keeping busy installing and servicing conventional systems in Kiel and beyond.

Speaking at their office, shop and showroom in Kiel, owners Dan Walsdorf and Sean Steffes said they have been installing geothermal systems for a long time now—more than 10 years—and doing conventional heating and cooling work even longer.

It says a lot about both their company’s quality work and the dependability of geothermal that their referral list includes some of the first geothermal jobs they ever did. When they were first installing geothermal systems 10 to 15 years ago, few people knew much about geothermal and some people might have questioned how it would stand up over time.

Both questions have been answered over the past decade or more. In eastern Wisconsin, Steffes and Walsdorf have worked hard to educate the public about the benefits of geothermal heating and cooling and how it works. From newspapers, radio and billboards to magazines and Web sites, they have helped spread the word via mass media—including being featured in the national trade magazine SNIPS. In addition, on Feb. 19 Walsdorf was elected president of the Wisconsin Geothermal Association.

Technology boosts efficiency

As is true in just about every facet of today’s society, technology has continued to develop and improve in the area of geothermal systems. The owners of Advanced Custom Geothermal said they see longtime owners of geothermal systems updating their systems simply because the new ones are more efficient, not because the previous one failed.

Advanced Custom Geothermal also continues to make use of the latest equipment to make its job a little easier, such as upgrading to a better boring machine a little over a year ago. In addition to being used in the process of installing geothermal lines underground, ACG will act as a subcontractor for other contractors or municipalities and use its new boring machine for the installation of water lines, sewer lines, electric lines, etc.

Over the years, Advanced Custom Geothermal has installed geothermal systems as far away as Wausau and Waterford, but the majority of its work both in geothermal and conventional systems continues to be within an hour of its home base in Kiel.

ACG’s geothermal work slows in the wintertime, but its staff of seven full-timers and two part-timers is kept plenty busy installing and servicing forced air furnaces—whether they be powered by natural gas, electric or oil—as well as boilers. They also provide year-round installation and service of air conditioning systems as well as refrigeration work, including walk-in coolers, ice machines, etc.

Years of experience

Walsdorf has been in the heating and cooling business for 23 years and Steffes for 15 years, and they said the biggest change they have seen in their years is the efficiency of electric mo-tors—whether they be on geothermal or conventional systems. “The geo units are all variable speed—less loads, easier startup,” Steffes said.

When fuel prices go up, more emphasis is placed on seeking out more efficient heating and cooling systems. During those periods, more businesses also pop up to try to service those customers, and some of those businesses end up falling by the wayside. Advanced Custom Geothermal has a track record which proves it will be here for the long haul.

Steffes said, “We strive to be the best at putting in good, high quality equipment.” Word-of-mouth referrals continue to be a big part of how customers come to know ACG.

Walsdorf pointed out that energy prices are down right now but they are likely to go up again. Therein lies the beauty of geothermal. “What you own in the ground will never go up, which is the temperature in the ground,” he said.

How it works

This might be a good point to provide the reminder that geothermal heating and cooling systems take advantage of the fact that seven to nine feet below the earth’s surface, temperatures remain relatively constant year round. A series of fluid-filled underground pipes called a “loop” absorbs the earth’s heat in the

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