LESLIE: Well, more and more folks are looking for alternative heating and cooling methods and that’s Robert in Iowa who wants to talk about geothermal systems. What can we do for you?
ROBERT: Well, I was kind of curious about the efficiency difference between central air and furnace and a geothermal water furnace. Didn’t know which one would be best to go with and which one would be more likely to pay itself off in the long run.
TOM: So are you talking about the difference between a conventional heating and cooling system and a geothermal system?
TOM: Well, a geothermal system is certainly an efficient system. If your choice is electricity I would certainly consider a geothermal system. My first choice, if I had the option and I had the fuel available, would be to use a natural gas system and then a high-efficiency Energy Star-rated air conditioning system. Those two together will give you a very good return on investment. If you don’t have access to natural gas and you’re faced with using propane or oil, I would definitely use a geothermal system. The only downside to a geothermal system is if the coiling that goes out throughout the ground of your house were to break it becomes very expensive to replace, but they’re getting much better with that so that the issue is not as prevalent as it used to be when they first came out.
LESLIE: As far as accessibility or the cost of the repair?
TOM: Well, the cost of the repair. There are different ways to put it. You can put a loop straight down, for example …
ROBERT: I see.
TOM: … and not have to actually go throughout the entire property where’d you have to tear up driveways to fix it.
ROBERT: Yeah, well I’m kind of in a pretty rural area and propane and heating oil is about my only other option and propane keeps staggering higher and higher; seems quicker than what electricity per kilowatt does.
TOM: Then I think geothermal is an excellent option for you.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what? There’s a good website you should check out. It’s called GeoExchange.us and there’s a lot of information there about the type of different systems; how you can find local contractors who would do the work; all different kinds of applications so you can sort of sort it out for yourself as well.
TOM: Robert, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.