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Geothermal Heating: Is It Worth Installing?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Tuning in in Illinois we’ve got Eric who listens on WYLL. What can we do for you?

    ERIC: Well, I’m calling to see if a geothermal heating system is really worth the time and effort of putting it in.

    TOM: That’s a fair question, Eric. Is this a new home you’re building?

    ERIC: No, this is an existing home?

    TOM: Alright, and how is your house heated now? Is it heated by gas?

    ERIC: Yes.

    TOM: I wouldn’t do it. I think a geothermal heat pump’s a good idea if you don’t have availability of gas or oil. But you know, it’s a pretty big deal. They have to …

    LESLIE: [What is it?] (ph) An alternative to electric?

    TOM: Yeah, as an alternative to electric I think it’s a superb idea but if I had – if I had gas I would put in a high-efficiency gas furnace every time before I put geothermal in. Because you have to run those coils under the soil around your house because, basically, it uses the constant temperature of the earth to basically cool [when the] (ph) refrigeration cycle; much the same way as an air conditioning compressor works. It basically converts refrigerant from a liquid to a gas and it uses the constant temperature of the earth to do that. But you know, you have this coil that runs underground. If you ever have a break in that it’s very expensive; very costly to make repairs. You know, I think it’s a fine technology if I was faced with straight electric heat but if I had gas available I would not put in geothermal. I would put in a high-efficiency gas condensing furnace and just make sure that everything else I put in that house was as efficient as possible. I wouldn’t use geothermal.

    ERIC: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Eric. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You realize, of course, we’re now going to get hate mail from the electric companies.

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