This Old House The Essex House Geothermal Project

Whether you are environmentally conscious or just cautious about what you spend, you’ve likely heard about the energy and cost saving potential of a geothermal heating system. This quickly growing option for heating and cooling a home has been used for many years, however, it’s still a new technology to many homeowners.

Skillings & Sons has extensive experience drilling wells for geothermal systems and can advise homeowners on the potential cost savings and reduced fuel consumption that come with these systems. Skillings & Sons was even featured on this recent episode of the PBS home improvement show “This Old House” where a geothermal system was installed.

Skillings & Sons drilled the well for a closed-loop geothermal system in a cottage home in Essex, Mass. As this episode explains, a closed-loop system circulates a water solution through plastic pipes buried underground, absorbing heat from the earth. The heat pump exchanger takes that warmth and brings it into the home heating system.

The system required two 350-foot deep bore-hole wells on the property, which Skillings & Sons drilled using the same rig used for water well drilling. Long plastic pipes are then inserted into the well and filled with a water solution, typically non-toxic antifreeze, and sealed.

In the winter, the water solution absorbs heat from the earth and carries it into the home or building. The heat pump, also known as the heat exchange system, concentrates the earth’s thermal energy and circulates the warm air through standard ductwork. The process is reversed in the summer months, extracting heat from the air inside the home and transferring it into the ground. Geothermal systems require no fuels like oil or natural gas to run the heat exchange. The only external energy needed for a geothermal exchange is the small amount of electricity needed to operate the ground loop pump and fan.

At the Essex House, the well drilling went smoothly, but the project hit a snag when the 5-foot deep trench needed to run the loop system to the home from the well hit ledge and the blasting crew was called in. As you can see in this episode, the “This Old House” team made quick work of that rock.

Skillings & Sons was happy to work with the “This Old House” team in the filming of this episode and highlight the benefits of geothermal heating. As renewable energy specialist Ross Trethewey explains, geothermal heating and cooling is 30% to 50% more efficient than traditional systems.
The show also shows how these wells take up on the property fit into the layout of a New England property. Although Trethewey calls the Essex house the perfect property for geothermal, we’d say there are many different kinds of homes and buildings that are great candidates for geothermal. If you have a small yard or an older home, you still may be able to take advantage of the savings a geothermal system can bring.

If you would like to learn more about geothermal heating systems and if your home is a good candidate for a geothermal system conversion, contact Skillings & Sons for a consultation.

Click Here To View The This Old House Episode