Skillings & Sons Co-owner Gives his Expert Take on Geothermal

Science Cafe NH Geothermal Lecture

Skillings & Sons has been drilling geothermal wells for nearly 25 years, so it makes sense that the co-owner of the company, Roger Skillings, would be asked to sit on an expert panel on geothermal energy.

Roger Skillings was one of three geothermal experts to speak at the Science Café New Hampshire forum in Nashua last week, highlighting the environmental and economic benefits of this green geothermal home heating options.

Geothermal heat pumps do not use fossil fuels but instead draw energy from within the earth to heat the home in the winter and cool it in the summer. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, geothermal heat pump systems use 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems. They don’t use fossil fuels either, which means homeowners save hundreds to thousands of dollars each year by giving up home heating oil, propane or natural gas systems.

The cost of installation can be a factor for some, but Roger Skilling told the forum that homeowners would find there is a relatively quick return on investment. He said switching out an old system for a new geothermal system in your home usually costs around $30,000 to $35,000, but if the system is installed before the end of 2016, there are federal tax incentives and state credits available that can drop the price to about $10,000.

When oil prices were higher, the return on investment for installing a geothermal system could be as little as five years, Skillings said, but now that oil prices have dropped a bit, homeowners can expect to cover their costs for the system in roughly 10 years – a pretty quick turnaround when considering that the system can last upwards of 30 years.

Installing a geothermal heat pump system is an more affordable option for people looking to move away from heating with fossil fuels and onto a renewable energy source. Another panelist noted that Forbes magazine called geothermal energy the greatest return on investment for green heating technology available today.

Geothermal systems are also gaining in popularity because they not only deliver heat in the winter but can also create cooler air during the summer. Here’s how it works: A geothermal system is made up of a heat pump, a ground heat exchanger, and the delivery system. The ground heat exchanger is a series of pipes buried in the ground that transfers the warmth from the earth into the home. The heat pump connects the ground portion to the inside of the building and delivers hot or warm air into the home through the ductwork or radiator.

In the winter, water flows through the heat exchanger and absorbs warmth from the earth’s constant temperature deep within the ground. The warm water is transferred into the building and the heat pump inside the building concentrates the energy from the water into warm air for distribution throughout the home. During the summer, the process is reversed. Heat is absorbed from the building and transferred back into the earth. Some geothermal systems can also provide hot water.

Skillings told the forum that permitting for residential units is relatively easy in New Hampshire, but that the well drilling required for installing the ground loops must be reported to the state’s Department of Environmental Services. Geothermal units can be installed even on small lots in suburban areas, not just big parcels in the country, and they take up a relatively small amount of space compared to other heating units.

If you would like more information about geothermal heating systems, please contact a Skillings & Sons geothermal expert at 1 (800) 441-6281. We have extensive experience in installing geothermal systems in both residential and commercial properties, and for both new construction and retrofits.