High School Science Teacher Talks Geothermal

Today, we have yet another great testimonial from a homeowner with a geothermal heat pump system. A must read for anyone looking to replace their current heating and cooling setup. Enjoy.

Four years ago my wife and I started looking into solar panels for our house as a long term, environmentally responsible investment. We were discouraged by the cost, pay-off time, and all the trees we would have to cut down. About that time, our furnace and air conditioner (AC) were starting to require frequent, costly repairs. It looked like we’d have to settle for a more energy efficient furnace instead. That’s when we learned about heating and cooling our home by pulling heat from the ground in the winter and dumping heat there the summer.

As a high school science teacher, I was immediately fascinated and could see the advantages of geothermal heat. The cost was also compelling. I could replace my furnace and AC and dramatically reduce my energy costs. While geothermal would cost more, the savings, along with federal and state grants, made it a wise investment.

Homeowners don’t seem to talk much about geothermal after the first year. I think this is because they monitor their savings for a year, are pleased, and then just forget about the system. The house is comfortable, the bills lower, and because it’s not burning any hydrocarbons there’s little maintenance. I called the installer a while ago and asked if I needed to schedule an annual checkup. He asked if it was still working and when I said “yes” he said not to worry. Unlike furnaces which burn gas or oil, heat pumps are cleaner and unlikely to have problems.


People usually have a lot of questions about geothermal and I admit the idea seemed strange to me initially.

➢ We continue to save about 35-40% on heating and about 75-80% on AC. As gas and electricity costs continue to rise these percentages become even more important.
➢ I’m still impressed by the air conditioning. There’s almost no difference for us in electricity usage with the AC on or off.
➢ The house is just as comfortable as it was with a furnace. We really don’t notice any difference, nor do guests.
➢ Some people say that the heat pump runs more than their furnace did. I don’t see this and suspect it may be related to how their house is insulated.
➢ I’m enjoying not paying for periodic checkups on the furnace. I also don’t need my carbon monoxide detector any more.
➢ The well drilling (our system has two 300 foot wells) is disruptive, but the grass grows back quickly and everything is underground. No one can even tell you have geothermal after a few months.

Looking back, it did cost more initially to go with geothermal, something that we had to consider carefully. In retrospect, it turned out to be a better investment than the stock market. Much better. Coupling that with the benefits for the environment, geothermal is one of the best choices available. In fact, the high school where I teach is installing a geothermal heating and cooling system to keep our 2000+ students comfortable and ready to learn.

Wayne Breslyn is a science teacher in Montgomery Country, Maryland. The story of the installation of his geothermal heating and cooling system can be found at www.TheGeoexchange.org.

Comments (1)


  1. Dave Allaire says:

    Interesting article. As long as it still runs, there is no need to service. How cool is that!

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