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Geothermal Heating vs. Hydronic Heating

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Tony in Virginia has a question about geothermal heating. What’s going on?

    TONY: I’m building a house and I am just curious to know what I should look for to decide whether or not I should consider geothermal heating as far as cost-wise and, you know, that type thing.

    TOM: Do you have natural gas available where you’re going to build the house, Tony?

    TONY: No, I don’t.

    TOM: You don’t. OK. Well …

    TONY: (INAUDIBLE) for gas.

    TOM: That makes the economics a little different. The thing about geothermal heating is that once it’s installed and working properly it’s a very inexpensive way to heat your house; it’s a very comfortable way to heat your house. The complaint and concern that I have about geothermal heating is that the coiling that gets embedded in the soil around your house is generally not warranteed for labor if it breaks down and that’s a problem because, obviously, when you put this under the ground you put a lot of stuff over that like driveways and pools and sidewalks and grass and sprinkler systems. And so, if the coil does break down, sure, the manufacturers will give you new plastic coiling but they won’t pay the labor and the materials it takes to restore that.

    So, the only concern I have – kind of the same kind of concerns I have about hydronic heat that’s inside of a slab – you know, it’s great until it breaks.

    TONY: Right.

    TOM: So far, we’re hearing a lot of good things about geothermal heat. People like it. It’s comfortable. Low-cost. But if the coil breaks that’s when it’s going to cost big bucks.

    TONY: Well, they do it two ways here where I live. They’ll do it horizontally under the ground and they’ll also drill just like they do a well.

    TOM: Well, if that’s the case, I would opt more for the type that has the well because at least it’s one point. It can easily be replaced.

    TONY: Well, what should I look for as far as knowing what I should pay? You know what I mean? Cost-wise.

    TOM: Here’s what I would do. I would make sure that all of the contractors you’re concerning with this are offering you the same size systems and the second thing I would do is find out if the system is Energy Star rated. If they’re Energy Star rated that will give you sort of an apples-to-apples comparison.

    LESLIE: Do you think that our American Homeowners Association membership could be helpful to Tony in looking for one of these contractors?

    TOM: Are you feeling generous today?

    LESLIE: I am indeed feeling generous for Mr. Tony.

    TOM: Alright. So Tony, what we’re going to do then is we’ll give you an American Homeowners Association Money Pit membership.

    TONY: OK.

    TOM: And that will help you identify some qualified contractors in your area as well as a boatload of other home improvement-related services. It’s kind of like AAA for your house.

    TONY: Right. OK. I appreciate that.

    TOM: Alright. So hang on and we’re going to get your information then we’re going to have you 866-REAL-HOME and that is the membership number. They can get you all hooked up.

    TONY: I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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