Editors Blog

Skaer-Tactics: In Praise of Geothermal Heat Pumps

February 18, 2009

More times than not this scenario occurs while attempting to relax on a plane. There’s always an inquisitive (or is the correct word “nosey”?) person sitting to the left (or right) who, after some small talk, wants to know what I do for a living. After I spill the beans, and after a few more rounds of interrogation, out will pop that loaded question: “What is the best way to cool and heat my home?”

My friend Jack had the same question four years ago. The brave soul was building a new home and he wanted a better way to get more out of his energy dollar. I told him to look into the possibly of a geothermal heat pump and, per usual, I got a blank stare in return.

Jack was amazed to find out that there actually is an electronically-powered device that uses the natural heat storage ability of the earth and/or the earth’s groundwater to heat and cool a home. He did not know the earth had the ability to absorb and store heat energy. His ears perked when it was noted that a geothermal heat pump could be five times as efficient as the most efficient fossil-fuel furnace. He was sold when I told him a geothermal heat pump could assist in heating hot water year-round.

To this day, Jack thanks me every time we bump into each other, usually at the grocery store. He goes on and on about his “super warm” home. He then proceeds to brag that his January heating bill was far lower than any of his neighbors.

I did learn my lesson. Now when the loaded question is asked, I refrain from giving specifics. Instead, I encourage each to seek out a qualified contractor who can sit down and supply a whole-house energy audit. This, in turn, allows me to catch needed sleep on an airplane. 

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