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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Geothermal Heating and Cooling in New York

George Harvey

One of the spectacular successes of clean energy is that it is proving to be both least expensive and most comfortable. This is happening with increasing frequency across a number of technologies. One place where it is true is with heating and cooling.

We have known for some time that the lowest monthly bills for heating and cooling have come from geothermal systems. And in a well-insulated home, geothermal systems provide a good level of comfort.

The problem for most people has been that they were expensive to install. Geothermal systems typically extract heat from the Earth and pump it into a home. Most underground heat exchangers have been costly, as they usually require drilling wells or digging up large areas of lawns for a heating loop. A heat exchanger can be put into water, if there is a large enough pond or river, but such is not usually the case.

Recently, companies and organizations have been setting up programs that make geothermal systems affordable. Their success is so great that the question is rapidly changing from whether homeowners can afford geothermal heat and cooling to whether they can afford not to invest in geothermal.

One of these organizations is GroundUp: Geothermal Alliance of Western New York. GroundUp was formed with the hope of bringing geothermal heating and cooling to every possible home in Western New York. It has a new option that allows homeowners to switch to geothermal with no down payment and a regular charge of $128 per month, in addition to the cost of electricity required to run it. Many well-insulated homes of less than 4,000 square feet can be converted under the program.

GroundUp says that owners of homes heated with oil or propane can save as much as 80% on heating bills by installing geothermal systems. While that is worth considering, another thing that anyone heating with oil or propane should think about is that their heating systems will need to be replaced at some point, and the investment needed for that might pay the bill to keep a geothermal system running for years.

According to GroundUp, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has up to $15 million available through June 2019 for the installation of ground source heat pump systems for residences, businesses and institutions. GroundUp is just one program that takes advantage of this.

The GroundUp web site is www.groundupgeo.org.

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