Geothermal Bait & Switch

Your quest to find a greener, more efficient home heating and cooling system led you to geothermal. A company comes on an initial consultation to give you a quote and when they leave you feel as if you’ve been talked out of geothermal… but why?

While all situations are unique there are a few things to be aware of during your contractor search. If you hear any of the following you might be dealing with a contractor who advertises geothermal but doesn’t truly plan on installing it.

Things a contractor might say:

  • The price of gas is cheap , stick with gas
  • It’s a new technology.
  • They don’t work very well
  • It might take a while to get you that information
  • Your home is not applicable to geothermal
  • The ROI only looks good on paper, in reality its will be a lot longer
  • Your yard will be a mess for a long time as the installation will rip up your yard
  • Its going to cost more than you can afford
  • A High Efficiency furnace is just as good
  • A geothermal installation is disruptive to your home
  • A geothermal system will take a long time to install, we can install a conventional system tomorrow

Some of these statements do have slight truths, but before we examine them, let’s ask the contractor a few questions of our own.

Questions to ask a contractor:

  1. Can you show me a few of your geothermal customers before and after utility bills? (They should be able to prove long term savings)
  2. How many geothermal systems have you installed in the past 10 years?
  3. Can you provide customer testimonials from customers who’ve had one of your geothermal systems for over 5 few years?
  4. Do you have some before and after images I can see of a yard which had a system installed?

A good geothermal company will have these answers handy and proudly show them off. If the contractor your currently dealing with does not, they might not be the right company for you. Before you get talked into a new high efficiency air conditioner or furnace speak with an experienced geothermal company, look at cost of operation numbers – this will help you collect the necessary information for  you to make the best decision for your family.

Geothermal takes more time, effort, training, & experience to install correctly… its not for every HVAC company to do however it is some companies ticket through your door.

Q&A with a Geothermal Company – Sinton Air

We’ve asked the geothermal experts at Sinton Air to comment the “things a contractor might say”.

–          It might take a while to get you that information

  • True if you want instant heating or cooling. Thorough evaluation of your current environment is needed to provide a performance guarantee, without evaluation it’s only a guess.

–         Your home is not applicable to geothermal

  • Many times an application is overlooked due to the contractor’s lack of experience and knowledge utilizing different proven applications. They may lack the ability to understand truly how to make something that is available work. Unfortunately many customers are confused by contractors who just don’t know what they don’t know.

–          Its going to rip up your yard

  • Yes it is and no it’s not. Long before grass, there was dirt. Every effort to minimize restoration should be taken by a considerate contractor. Disturbing land is certainly repairable. Grass at the drilling or trenching site will need to be replanted.  Indeed many customers take advantage of this by remodeling the landscape

–          Its going to cost more than you can afford

  • Not true. When you look at what it will cost for future heating, cooling and hot water if you don’t invest with geothermal, you may need to ask yourself “what is it that I can’t afford?”

–          It’s a new technology, some systems don’t work

  • Yes it’s new to some contractors, so find a contractor who can prove it’s not by checking their long list of successful installations.

–         A High Efficiency  furnace is just as good

  • Really… If you think that’s true you really understand efficiency and cost of operation.

–          The Price of gas is cheap , stick with gas

  • It’s only cheap when compared to another gas appliance that’s less efficient.  Educate yourself and evaluate historic data facts. Then decide what is cheap.

–          A geothermal system will take a long time to install; we can install a conventional system tomorrow.

  • True.  You have probably heard the phrase “all good things come in good time”.  When you look back on the time it takes to thoroughly understand and evaluate options, that time is really extremely short when compared to a future time period of positive results.  As most systems are oversized by contractors, replacing your current system that most likely has no engineering foundation will result in another premature life cycle and higher utility situation.

The most important part of switching to geothermal is the installing contractor, be sure you find the experienced geothermal professional in your area.

Comments (3)

 

  1. […] As seen in Geothermal Genius […]

  2. Ed Malloy says:

    Great points … I have found that expectations for geothermal costs are a bit lower than actual for closed loop vertical systems, and more in line with open loop systems. Nevertheless, there’s no question when you need a new system, the NET cost difference (after tax credits pay for the loop or more), is covered very quickly by the energy cost savings. AND IMPORTANTLY ABOUT NATURAL GAS: 1) IT WILL NOT STAY AT THE CURRENT LOW PRICE. 2) IT WILL NOT ENABLE NET ZERO ENERGY COSTS (combine geo with PV) 3) IT WILL NEVER BE A ZERO CARBON SOLUTION

  3. dan says:

    Just dropped 18k on a waterfurance 5 series last year. Much more expensive than natural gas. Complete waste and my house is cold.

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