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Geothermal Frequently Asked Questions

What is a geothermal system?
A geothermal system is a comfort system that uses the earth’s stored energy, rather than fossil fuels like propane, natural gas, oil, or coal, to heat or cool your home or business.
Why should I consider installing/migrating to a geothermal heating/cooling system when a high-efficiency standard system works just fine?
By choosing geothermal, you will save two valuable resources: your environment and your dollars.
Geothermal is recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the most environmentally safe, cost-effective heating and cooling system on the market. The installation of one geothermal system is the environmental equivalent to removing two cars from the street.
Investing in a geothermal system will increase your positive cash flow. Because it is environmentally friendly, the U.S. Government is currently providing up to a 30% savings in tax credits and rebates. Plus, geothermal systems have been proven to significantly reduce utility bills and annual system maintenance costs.
How does a geothermal system work to heat and cool my home or office?
While temperatures fluctuate quite a bit on the surface of the Earth with the change of seasons, approximately four to six feet below the Earth’s surface, temperatures remain consistent year-long because the Earth absorbs 47% of all of the heat and energy from the sun and stores it.
A geothermal system is a series of interconnected loops that run from your home down through this temperate underground region. During the heating process, fluid such as water or antifreeze in the loops absorb heat from the earth and transfer it to a unit located in the home such as a conventional duct system or radiant heat system. For cooling, the same unit takes in hot air, and transfers it to the loop fluid, which journeys through the ground, is cooled, and returned to your home.

For a detailed diagram of this process see, including the variety of open and closed loop systems available, see how a Geothermal System Works.

Is it complicated to operate a geothermal system?
You communicate with a geothermal system with the basic thermostat that you have been using for years! It essentially works in much the same way as a normal heat pump – except that it uses the Earth’s natural heating and cooling ability rather than relying on fossil fuels.
What does it take to install a geothermal system?
First and foremost, you should consult a contractor adept at installing and maintaining geothermal systems and ask the right questions to protect your investment,
The complexity of installation varies, as it would with the installation of any new heating/cooling system. The most important thing to consider is space because ALL geothermal equipment resides inside the home. There is no external unit, which tends to be a benefit to homeowners as a geothermal system will not interfere with landscapes or require annual maintenance from suffering the wear and tear cause by changing weather conditions.
How much will installing a geothermal system cost?
Costs vary depending on the type of system you choose. And while it is an additional cost up front to install a geothermal system as compared to a high-efficiency gas or air-to-air heat pump system, a geothermal system will pay for itself in no time. The geothermal system essentially makes “free” hot water which can reduce your power consumption for hot water up to 60%. Plus, you will save on maintenance costs because a geothermal system has a life-span of 20+ years versus that of only a maximum of 12 for a standard heating and cooling system.

To cover the initial installation costs, the U.S. Government is offering up to 30% in tax credits and rebates if you choose geothermal. Additionally, a geothermal system can be tied into your mortgage or other form of low interest financing option. You’ll instantly see market savings in your utility bills that will easily cover the increase in your loan payment and continue to provide savings for years to come.

View actual monetary comparisons of the average annual heating, cooling, and hot water costs between a geothermal system and a traditional system in New York.

Is a geothermal system really that more energy-efficient than a traditional “energy-saving” system?
Yes! Most geothermal systems are a minimum of three times more efficient than fossil fuel systems, regardless if the traditional system is labeled “energy-saving” or “energy-efficient.” This is because geothermal systems simply move heat instead of actually making it, allowing it to produce five units of heat to one unit of electricity.
What is the best way for me to research geothermal energy and fully understand how to get the most for my investment?
Look for a qualified mechanical contractor! An educated, experienced contractor skilled in installing geothermal systems will review how the system works, and determine the size and operational costs for your particular project. Get referrals, and ask around to determine the qualifications of the mechanical contractor and how long the business has been installing geothermal systems.
For additional information or to speak with a qualified mechanical contractor, call American Heating and Cooling at (845) 473-1966.