Let the Sun Shine In

Going green at home pays for itself. Here’s how.

(page 3 of 4)

“In the wintertime, there’s less sun,” Gillen says. “In the summer a system might supply 100 percent of the hot water a household needs. In the winter it could be half.”

A typical system for a four-person household would cost $12,000 to $15,000, without rebates or incentives. With help from federal and state government, homeowners will pay $6,500 to $8,000.

Delaware has always had the advantage of no sales tax. Neighbors New Jersey and Maryland have waived sales tax for green energy projects. Buyers in Pennsylvania still must pay the commonwealth’s 6 percent sales tax.

The word geothermal comes from the Greek words geo, meaning earth and therme, or heat. In essence, geothermal energy is steam or hot water from within the earth that can be harnessed to heat buildings or generate electricity.

Geothermal energy is renewable because the water is replenished by rainfall and the heat is produced continuously inside the earth.

Mother Nature provides awesome displays of geothermal power through volcanos, geysers and hot springs. Man has been tapping hot water as an energy since ancient times. The Romans, Chinese and Native Americans used hot mineral springs for bathing, cooking and heating.

Today hot water near the earth’s surface can be piped directly into buildings and industries for heat. A district heating system provides heat for 95 percent of the buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland. More than 90 percent of new homes and commercial buildings built in the United Kingdom are powered by geothermal systems.

A&A Geothermal in Frankford has been installing geothermal systems since 1987, drilling an average of 180 feet beneath Delaware soil, where the temperature remains a steady 55 to 57 degrees.  

Until this year, nearly all the systems A&A installed were in new buildings, which are much easier to outfit with pumps that heat and cool the interiors. “With the government incentives, we are seeing a surge in retrofitting existing homes,” says Patrick Gaul, director of sales and marketing.

Jay Fausnaught hired A&A to retrofit his 20-year-old, 1,800-square-foot home in Millsboro with a geothermal system two years ago. After federal and state incentives, he paid $17,500 for a design that links the heat pump to his hot water system. “In the winter, we have free hot water,” he says.

In addition to lower energy bills, Fausnaught says his home is more comfortable. “Every room in the house is the same temperature,” he says. “The humidity is constant and just right.”

Page 4: Let the Sun Shine In, continues...