Why We Chose Geothermal

The renovation process has not been the most peaceful experience. I would like the internets to believe that the hubby and I operate in a mature and loving manner at all times, even when we disagree. Unfortunately, we know lots of people who have access to this blog, through the internet, that know us. I do not want to ruin my credibility, so I will admit right now that there have been AT LEAST 1000 things we have argued over (last night’s lively debate over wooden floors ups that number to 1001). These things include small things, big things and things that have not even happened yet (even those that may never happen-like where to place the 15-year plan in-ground pool). However, one thing we have both agreed on is that we wanted to renovate the house in a way that will support our tree-hugging tendencies. Making the decision about what heating and cooling system to install was an easy one for us; we knew immediately we wanted to invest in geothermal.

There are two things people usually say to us when we tell them we are installing geothermal:

1.) Isn’t that expensive?

2.) Don’t you get a great a tax-break on that?

Answer to #1: Since we take baths in $100 bills, the answer to the first question is always “no.” In all seriousness, to us the cost was not a big issue, not because we are rich but because we are firm believers in putting your money where your mouth is. Our mouths have a tendency to rant and rage about America’s addiction to oil and the ridiculous billion dollar profits the oil companies make every year.  Geothermal systems do not rely on oil or any other fossil fuels (in theory you could debate this since they do use some electricity to operate), have low-emissions and last for a long time (20-50 years depending on the source of information). Geothermal has a high up-front cost but a very low operating cost. We had estimates from a few different companies and ended up choosing Morrison Inc. because of their incredibly detailed estimate came in below the other companies and because the hubby liked how informative, Mike, the salesman was. Morrison Inc. has been installing geothermal systems since 1980 and are located out of Duncannon, PA. Their total bid from last August was a little less than $26,000 for a 5-ton, vertical loop system. That includes excavation, drilling, ductwork, labor and all the other parts that allow you to walk into a climate-controlled house. If you would like more specifics, please email me and I can provide them. The cost can vary depending on the size of your house, the terrain, existing insulation, etc. The most important thing to stress about the cost of geothermal is that it is front-loaded. The number of years it takes for the system to pay for itself varies, but typically the operating costs are about 45% less from traditional fossil-fuel based systems.

Answer to #2: Yes, you do get a tax break. I am still getting clarification on how that tax break specifically works. The way I understand it is that there was legislation passed by Congress in 2009 that offers homeowners a tax credit of 30% if a system is installed by  Dec. 31, 2016. I am still trying to determine if that 30% is on the pump or on the entire cost of the system. I also understand that there are additional incentives depending on your state and power company. I am working on a later post that will detail the specific savings and tax-breaks you can get when installing a geothermal system in Pennsylvania.

At this point we have only had the ductwork installed. We want to pay for that and then have the rest of the system installed. The system we are putting in includes the heating and cooling of the attic (it will be converted to a guest room or office space); that did increase the cost a bit. Based on the Afghanistan like temperatures we experienced when trucking 100 boxes of stuff from the second floor to the attic this weekend the investment was necessary. The system will hopefully be in and running before the cold weather hits. If not we will just throw another layer on and get another dog to keep the bed warm. Stay tuned tomorrow for an explanation of geothermal works to heat and cool your house!

4 thoughts on “Why We Chose Geothermal

    • Yup, but not in stage 1. I think we have until 2016 to get the tax credit so we are spacing out our green investments to meet the expectations of our incredibly middle class incomes :).

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