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Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

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Archive for the ‘Geothermal’ Category


Geothermal Systems

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Hi Jeff,

I have a question related to heating and cooling using a geothermal system.

We built a new home 2 years ago. It’s a conventional framed home, but I tried to incorporate the most energy efficient products I could as far as insulation and windows. It is a brick ranch, and I do know this adds no insulation value. We are in the country on 3 acres, so we use propane for fuel.

At the time we built I hadn’t researched geothermal heating and cooling systems, but with the sharp increase in propane since we built, I have been checking into it more, and also a friend of ours is in the process of building a new home right now with this type of system.

I forgot to mention our location is Verona Illinois, west of Chicago about 80 miles.

I’m trying to gather as much info as possible to make a good decision regarding adding this type of system. Do you have any recommendations as far as these systems go?

Thank You

Jim Yasko


What I have to say may not apply to your colder part of the US, but here in Virginia where we have both a heating load in the winter and a large cooling load in the summer, there has been mixed results with geo-thermal systems. For most of the systems I have been asked to check or were installed on homes that we provided a solar system, they cut the winter heating bill almost in half. However, the summer cooling performance was not much better than using a high quality air-cooled unit. I think this was not a problem with the indoor units, but a problem with an under-sized ground loop, well, or ground-coupled piping. Since it is costly to drill several deep wells or dig up half of your yard to install a large ground loop system, perhaps this part of these systems gets under-sized? Since you may not have much of a summer cooling load this may be less of a problem, but then you may have the problem in reverse from us since our winter temperatures may not cool down the earth as deep as where you are which would reduce the winter heating savings.

Regardless of heating system type, I would first reduce my heating load with low cost solutions like more ceiling/attic insulation, added under-floor or crawl space insulation, and seal all cracks and air infiltration. There are low cost testing services that can do an air door pressure test of your home which might identify some high loss areas.

Good luck,

Jeff Yago



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