In the last several years, you have been hearing a lot about the “Green Movement.” That means finding ways to be more energy efficient while having a minimal negative impact on the environment. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter made green energy a priority in his four years on the job, as is Obama’s administration. On the Real Estate front, builders have gotten into the game by constructing homes with green materials like recycled carpet, tiles, 50-year composite roofs, LED lighting, and more efficient heating and cooling systems.
One of the systems that should be getting more publicity that really saves money and saves the environment is geothermal energy. Up to this point, we haven’t heard a lot about it and I think it is for two reasons. Not a lot of people know exactly how it works to heat a home, and many builders as well as consumers were frightened off by the potential cost. The reality is that the technology has come along so fast that geothermal is a real option for home owners right now and its cost is more affordable than ever before.
First, here’s how it works and I’ll keep this to simple layman’s terms. Depending on where you live and the home you are building, a contractor will need to determine how far to drill into the earth’s crust in order to tap into the right amount of heat. Just below the surface, the earth maintains a constant temperature of about 50 degrees, but drill down several hundred or a few thousand feet and things really start to heat up. It’s at that point where you can utilize the earth’s steam and water. A homeowner would then install what they call a heat pump. That pump would circulate air or water through the pipes down through the earth. It then would be heated by the earth’s steam or water and sent back to the surface at the heat pump. That hot air or water then would be used to heat the house in a variety of ways.
According to the California Energy Commission, the cost to install a geothermal system including the drilling is about $17,000. That would get offset by the savings and the tax breaks from the government. Energy experts estimate that the geothermal systems can save up to 70% off the cost of traditional heating methods. Plus the government is offering a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of the system for those units installed before 2016.
In the final analysis, this seems like a win-win for everyone. The government helps with the costs, you save each month, the environment is protected, and you have an endless supply of energy to efficiently heat your home.
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