The Green Home

Thinking geothermal?

Posted June 11, 2009 2:54 p.m. EDT

Getting Started
Ever wonder what is Geothermal? Do you try to change the subject if someone says the word, in an effort not to seem eco-igno. Maybe you associate all things geo with the rock collection you had as a child. Or perhaps could you expect to track seismic readings from the mechanical room in your house? What does the ground have to do with the heating and cooling system in your house anyway?

Here is the skinny on the environmental counter culture know as geothermal

It's all Greek
The word Geothermal is derived from the Greek words Geo (earth) and Therme (heat). Yes it’s that simple. Take the heat from the earth and move it into your house or business. The ground maintains a constant temperature all year around at about 60 deg. F. This is warmer than the air in the winter and cooler that the air in summer. So by using this favorable temperature difference you can greatly reduce the cost of your heating and cooling bills. By greatly we mean 40-70%! It’s also possible to save up to 30% on your water heating costs. Carpe Diem!

Environmentally Sound
Want to get out of the greenhouse? Greenhouse gases that is. You could make a difference by planting forests in the “back 120,000” or just install a geothermal heat pump in your home.
According to a typical 3-ton residential geothermal system produces an average of about one pound less Carbon Dioxide (CO2) per hour of use than a conventional system. To put that in perspective, over an average 20-year lifespan, 100,000 units of nominally sized residential geothermal systems will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1.1 million metric tons of carbon equivalents.
That would be the equivalent of converting about 58,700 cars to zero-emission vehicles, or planting more than 120,000 acres of trees.
That’s why according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), geothermal heat pumps are the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective systems for temperature control.

50 Years
Geothermal systems have been in use for over 50 years now. So you don’t have feel like part of a science experiment to have one in your home or business. In fact over the past few years there have been significant advances in the materials and equipment at the heart of these systems. New systems available today are extremely efficient and reliable.

Hem Your Pockets
Geothermal systems can seem expensive because of the higher up front cost. But they typically have the lowest life cycle cost of any system. In many situations you can realize the saving in as little as 5 years. Pair this with the 30% tax credit Uncle Sam provides and you’re in the “green” quicker than you think. At the same time they add value to your home because of the decreased costs of energy bills.

This means you can be “Mr. Smarty Pants” with out the cumbersome discomfort of over sized pockets.

Content courtesy of Sustainable Building Solutions.

About this Blog:

Bobby Ferrel, founder of Green Horizon oversees The Green Home blog. Ferrel is co-founder of Green Horizon, with offices in the Triangle and Charlotte, offering home owners and builders a one-stop shop for energy efficiency and green building. Services include home performance assessments, weatherization, closed crawl spaces, all types of insulation, HVAC and geothermal installation and maintenance. Reach Bobby directly at or visit him online at