The making of a Geothermal Heat Pump advocate

The following guest post was written for Mapawatt by Don Lloyd, author of The Smart Guide to Geothermal: How to Harvest Earth's Free Energy for Heating & Cooling.


I had done my homework and made a decision. My new home was going to have a geothermal heating and cooling system. This would be the centerpiece of the architectural design. But could I really get the benefits of a geothermal heat pump that I expected?

1.  No burning, therefore:

  • No pollution
  • No fossil fuel delivery
  • No on-site storage such as fuel tanks or bottles
  • No chimney needed

2. Savings of at least $2500 every year.   I have an estimate that my home would have required 800 gals of  #2 fuel oil per season. At $3.80/gallon my annual savings are closer to $3,000.

3. Full air conditioning or heat at the click of a switch.

4. A very quiet operation.  Our last home had a basement oil burner under our bedroom. We had an enormous and noisy rush of air at startup and a continuing roar. Heat pumps are disconcertingly quiet.

5. Less maintenance.  No annual cleanup, no nozzles with half burned oil residue, no nozzles at all, of course. You do need to clean the air filter just as you would with any air delivery system or the heat pump will shut down during a snowstorm and annoy the whole family.

6. Subsidies. I received only a $500 rebate from the state of New York. Federal subsidies are now far better: a 30% tax credit for the entire installation. Some states and some utilities also provide incentives. .

7.   Home Value.  The EPA estimates that home values increase by $20 for every dollar that is saved in annual costs. So if you save $2000/year with a geothermal heat pump, the value would go up by $40,000. At the very least, this technology makes your home more salable.

Now after 5 years of operation, I can happily say that I am receiving every one! That made me an advocate: it is good for the homeowner and good for the country.

The Making of a Geothermal Heat Pump Book Author

But all the above did not come easily. My architect: "Your budget will not allow a heat pump!" My builder had never built a home with a heat pump, was skeptical. I had to get my own bids. But the biggest shock came from my bank. We were called in after months of sending in huge amounts of documentation only to be told:

"Congratulations, your application for a construction loan has been approved. Oh, except for one thing. No geothermal heat pump!"

"Why not?"

"Well, it will not meet Fannie Mae guidelines because it is too different."

This made no sense.  My dreams of an oil-free home were becoming a nightmare. It took patience and education to turn that around. But they finally agreed that they did not want to appear to be against US policy of reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

That finally convinced me that a book was needed. It took three years of research, setting up a network of experts in the geothermal heat pump industry to help and then working with a knowledgeable publisher.

The result is titled: "The Smart Guide to Geothermal: How to Harvest Earth's Free Energy for Heating & Cooling." by PixyJack Press in Colorado. It provides everything that you need to know in order to make an intelligent decision on an important subject.


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Please state the area (sf) of the building and the climate zone. Need testamonial from Hot & dry climate.
I'd be curious to see a good CO2 analysis for your heat pump vs. heating oil. You're correct that there is "no burning' - on site, at least, but you shouldn't discount the coal plant firing your heat pump. Did you keep track of how many kWh per heating season you used? Thanks, -Eric
What did you have to do to get the bank to reverse the decision on your geothermal system?

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