Does Geothermal Make Sense in New England?

Right about now the typical homeowner in the Northeast is praying for spring not just because the change in season is overdue but also because the crushing cost of home heating oil is about as much as anyone can bear. There must be cheaper ways to heat a house – a small nuclear reactor perhaps?

One possibility is geothermal with a heat pump. Geothermal heating uses the constant temperature of the earth to supply heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.

After an upfront investment in a closed loop well the system runs only on the electricity needed for a standard heat pump. The savings over an oil burner-based system are significant . . . even in cold climates like New England. According to some, the typical geothermal system is about three times as efficient as a conventional system. And there’s a bonus – geothermal provides cool air as well as hot. It’s an air conditioning system at no extra charge.

Geothermal heating works best with a radiant heating system built into the floors of a building. The circulating warm water delivers an even and uniquely pleasing heat on the feet. So for new construction, geothermal is a reasonable option.

But in some older houses radiant heat is not an option and geothermal is not adaptable to warm water baseboard radiators witch demand a higher temperature than geothermal can produce. In that case, geothermal heat is delivered through forced air and ductwork. It’s still cheaper than oil per BTU but not as comfortable as the older radiators.

We’ve worked with geothermal and we’re looking to incorporate it in future projects. If you want to find out if it’s right for you, we’re always happy to discuss the pros and cons.

Until then, here’s a little video that explains the process visually: