Your Geothermal Questions Answered
Q. Can I install a geothermal system in my existing home?
A. Geothermal exchange systems are found in all types of buildings, including single-family homes, condominiums, businesses, schools and universities. You don’t need a new home to install a geothermal exchange system, just an evaluation of your current system by a qualified HVAC contractor for retrofitting ideas.
Q. Can I utilize my existing well?
A. If your existing well is 300 feet or more you may be able to utilize the well depending on the heating capacity necessary in your home. If the existing well requires deepening, there are risks of changing the well water quality, therefore drilling a new well for the geothermal system may be the better choice.
Q. Do I need a back-up heat source?
A. A back-up system is not necessary and many homes with a geothermal system do not have one, however there is an option to install an electric strip that will provide heat from the unit in the event the well pump fails.
Q. What part of the job does Skillings & Sons, Inc. perform?
A. Skillings & Sons, Inc. installs the ground heat exchanger that runs from the ground up to the home. We drill the bore holes for a closed loop application or drill a bedrock well for a standing column well application. For more information on the types of geothermal wells we drill, go to our ‘How Geothermal Works’ page.
Q. What is the turnaround time to having a system installed?
A. If you need to order a heat pump system, it can take about four to six weeks. As for installation, the turnaround time for the ground heat exchange system and the heat pump exchange system is about two weeks.
Q. How is a system sized?
A. The HVAC contractor will perform an evaluation to determine the amount of heat that needs to be generated for the home. Once the system is sized, the HVAC contractor will provide the information to Skillings & Sons, Inc. for the drilling portion of the job, also called the earth connection. Typically a 1-ton heat pump will create enough energy to heat 500 square feet; therefore a 2,000 square foot home would require a 4-ton heat pump exchange system.
Q. What is a BTU (British Thermal Unit)?
A. When referring to heating and cooling systems a Btu (Btu/hour) describes the energy-producing or energy-transferring capability of equipment like heat pumps, furnaces, refrigerators and air conditioners.
Q. What type incentives are offered?
A. On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed the 2009 Stimulus Bill, which includes a tax credit of 30 percent on new geothermal heat pump systems. There is no longer a cap on the tax credit but it ends on December 31st, 2016. Act fast! Go to www.geoexchange.org for more information.
Some utilities also offer incentives and rebates. Click on the geoexchange.org link that pertains to your state and learn more about federal and state tax incentives and rebates.