Little-known but efficient, geothermal pumps a different way to heat and cool your house

Summers are famously humid in New York State, but life in the Maioli household has gotten more comfortable since the couple installed a new heating and cooling system — one that isn’t well known yet in the U.S.

“My wife is pretty happy because in the summer we can keep it to as cold as we like,” typically 69 or 70 degrees, Joe Maioli said. In 2021, the Ontario, New York, couple installed a geothermal — or ground source — heat pump.

The units you see that look like box fans outside homes and businesses are the more common air-source heat pumps. They wring energy out of outdoor air for heat and soak up excess heat indoors and move it out when they’re cooling. Geothermal heat pumps use underground temperatures, instead of outdoor air.

Climate Home Geothermal

A Dandelion Energy employee sprays excess groundwater back on the lawn during installation of a geothermal heat pump system May 8, 2023, at a home in White Plains, N.Y. A water-filled loop is installed several hundred feet deep in the yard to either carry heat away from or into the house depending on season.  

A major push is now underway to get people to consider ground-source heat pumps because they use far less electricity than other heating and cooling methods. “Ground-source heat pumps average about 30 percent less electricity use than air-source heat pumps over the course of the heating season,” said Michael Waite, senior manager in the buildings program at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

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“Cooling the house for a month is maybe $10 worth of electricity, and this is the most efficient way to do it,” Maioli said. During the coldest winter months, their highest heating bill was around $70, he said.

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