Ask An Expert: Geothermal Heating & Cooling

By+Kenton Hostetler, Vice President, Crystal Val

Why should I want to put a geothermal system in my home?
Geothermal systems have been named “the most energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive system you can install in your home” by the Environmental Protection Agency.

We have literally installed hundreds of systems over the past 20 years in the Michiana area and saving those customers an average of 60%-70% on their heating, cooling and hot water costs.  We have listened to, and answered many questions.  Here are some of the more popular questions:

What is geothermal, and how does it work?

There is enough stored heat in your back yard to heat your home.  A geothermal system simply taps into that heat and transfers it into your home.  During the summer time, we displace the heat from your home, back into the ground, for air conditioning.

The geothermal system is one unit in the home which can provide both heating and air conditioning.  It runs on electric and uses no gas.  There are two methods of transferring the energy from the ground into your home.  One is the closed loop system.  This is where we install a PEX loop system in your yard underground or in a pond/lake and circulate the water.  The other method, and the most popular one used in northern Indiana/Southern Michigan, is the open loop.  This is where we simply tie into the well that is already providing water for your home, and feed it through the geothermal.  We then discharge the water into a pond/lake or drywell system.  This method can greatly reduce the initial investment and make geothermal installations very affordable.

How comfortable are geothermal systems?

Geothermal systems are among the most comfortable systems out there because of the way they heat and cool.  During the winter, you will find that they keep the homes temperature very even, with minimal temperature variations.  Most system can be 1-2 degrees above or below the set point of your thermostat setting.  With geothermal systems, they keep the temperatures right at the set points, keeping your home very consistent, and that means reliable comfort.  They also dehumidify better than standard air conditioners, making your home dryer, and more comfortable.

Ruth Myers, who lives in Elkhart County, just stopped in as I was writing this and told me she is looking forward to the summer because the geothermal system provides such “natural, dry cool air, that it does not bother her sinuses like other systems.”  She went on to say, “I can keep my thermostat at 78 degrees and be perfectly comfortable during the summer.”  This is a common testimony from those with a geothermal.

Is geothermal expensive?

Geothermal systems are surprisingly affordable.  There has never been a better time than now to have a system installed in your home.  Here are some of the incredible incentives for 2010:

Federal Tax Credit- Geothermal systems qualify for a 30% federal tax credit.  This is not a deduction but an actual credit.  It is also not limited to $1,500.00 like most things.  It is an uncapped amount.

The Department of Energy for Indiana is also giving $1,000.00 cash for the installation of a geothermal system.  As of February, 2010, there is over $1 million dollars available for these systems, among other green systems, and it is going fast.  It is a first-come first- served basis until the pot is gone, so take advantage and check in with us soon.

Property Tax Reduction.  Many people do not realize that you can lower your property taxes significantly by installing a geothermal system in your home.

Many electric utility companies have special rebates and rate programs for geothermal systems installed in a new or existing home.

Usually after all the tax credits and cash incentives, your installation costs are very close to that of a high efficient furnace and air conditioner.