GEO Blogs Archive 2015-2018

EARTHSHOT or Moonshot Revisited March 22 2018

We choose to go fossil-fuel free, and do the other things necessary to avert climate disaster, not because they are easy, but because they are RIGHT AND NECESSARY...

NYPA's Geothermal Energy Challenge February 17 2018

NYPA launches Geothermal Initiative

Conversation & E-mails with an Engineer about Geo Heat Pumps February 02 2018

I had occasion to speak about renewable heating with a community leader after a regular monthly police precinct meeting.

We talked generally about climate change and both stated our opposition to fracking. Then I said the next big thing coming down the road is a statewide push for non-fossil-fuel heating with geothermal heat pumps. He said he understood the geothermal ground loop brought 55 degree water into the house, but he didn’t get how that could heat a home.

I asked him if he knew how a heat pump worked. He said yes, he was an engineer. He interrupted several times as I explained how a refrigerator, one example of a heat pump, moved warm air out of the ice box and into the air in the kitchen. Had he noticed the heat around the refrigerant coils? Not really. However, that's how a geothermal heat pump works: it extracts the heat from the loop fluid, amplifies it and then sends it into the air handler.

He still didn't get it, so he asked me to send him some links to websites that explain it. I sent him an email titled "How heat pumps generate heat" attached with a PDF excerpted from the NYSERDA engineers and architects geothermal heat pump training given by my friend Jay Egg. I also sent him these links that I checked out to make sure they were pertinent:



Both articles explain how heat pumps work, but are focused on air source heat pumps. I told him geothermal heat pumps start with lower temperatures in the summer (and higher ones in the winter) and don't require a defrost cycle, so they are more efficient.

I also sent him a link to the NY-GEO website and asked him to let me know what he thought.

His response was interesting, so I will quote it verbatim:

I understand you are promoting non-fossil fuel heating systems.

While I think that is a noble cause, I believe it is disingenuous because of the electric heating coil back up. Most heat pump systems are useless below 20 degrees, even with new LEED construction. Plus, unless you are replacing an existing cooling system, there really is no benefit. I have no central air in my home.

The recent sub-freezing temperatures proved heat pumps are not the most economical heating method here on Long Island. Anyone who has them dreads very cold weather.

Solar panels are a mature, proven technology. Unfortunately they are still rather expensive, and I would not install them unless I get 100% of the savings.

Since most heat pump systems require duct work, my home would not be a good candidate.
When new home [sic] are built here on Long Island, the main selling point is gas heat. Yes, I know where natural gas comes from.

Oil has it's [sic] issue with storage, as the cold weather also affected outdoor tanks. And delivery during snow storms. Upstate, the fuel of choice for heating is propane. It does not coagulate in sub-freezing temperatures.
I have a very unique system. I have gas steam heat that does not require ANY electric hook up. I have heat and hot water with a power outage. Not very common today. Plus, I also have a gas stove, gas dryer and a natural gas BBQ.

There is no simple, easy answer. What I DO know is that here on Long Island, we get our electric supply from #6 high sulpher [sic] oil fired power plants, plus a smattering of natural gas turbines. Not very eco-friendly.

Block Island now gets 100% of it's electric from windmills.

2/3rds of Con Ed's power for all of New York City comes from unit 2 and 3 of Indian Point nuclear. Unit one has been expired for some time. Two and Three are not too far behind. I am not a fan of generating power from using a nuclear power plant to make steam.

Many coal fired plants are being retired around the country. You and I both know there is no such thing as "clean coal".

Northport plant is now over 60 years old. They won't upgrade it without a certiari. They want a 50% reduction in their property taxes, to be initiated over a 10 year period. Both the Town and the Northport school district have it in litigation. They will lose. And we, the ratepayers will foot the bill. Google "Stony Point power plant" to see what happened to last coal fired plant in New York State.

If transmission lines were added from Canada, Hydro Quebec would sell us plenty of electricity. Marcy South is not enough. Plus, PSEG does not get many credits from PASNY.

In short, here on Long Island, there are no easy answers to electricity generation, or heating homes. I believe natural gas is our best fuel of choice until a new technology comes along.

Perhaps we will see new technologies in the near future...

Doing some research, I find this:

Hi [Name withheld],

The second most asked question we get from homeowners after "will I really save money?" is "how much does it cost to install?".

Today I'm going to give you the quick breakdown on how much central ducted heat pumps cost.

There are two types of machines.

Add on heat pumps that work in line with your current furnace as a backup

Full replacement heat pumps which replace your current hot air furnace entirely with electric backup

The add on machines are less expensive and are popular with home owners who's [sic] furnace is reasonably new or still in good shape.

Cost for an add on machine ranges from $9,000 to $12,500

Why the range? Because there are different sized units as well as different levels of efficiency. We sell York and Daikin central ducted heat pumps. Both offer a good, better and best option which falls somewhere in that price range.

Cost for a full replacement heat pump is $10,500 to $13,000

A note about full replacement heat pump. In some cases your home may also require an electrical service upgrade. This is something that would be determined with an in-home visit from one of our representatives. The upgrade can be done by our electricians and built into the one invoice.

Financing the Purchase of your Heat Pump

Something not known by all home owners is you can financing [sic] the purchase and install of a new heat pump for up to 10 years with Nova Scotia Power. We have a detailed article on the program at our website. Click here to learn more about how you can finance a heat pump.

It was clear from this reply that he hadn't bothered to look at the PDF or links I so painstakingly vetted for him. Despite the subject of our discussion being geothermal heat pumps, he simply based his opinion on a letter from someone selling air source heat pumps. Perhaps this was the person he contacted before he chose his current heating system.

I was nonplussed by my acquaintance's response. He seemed to ask questions, but then not listen to the answers. I debated whether to continue the conversation. After two weeks or so, I wrote this reply:

Hi [Name withheld],

Sorry you didn't take a good look at the links I sent.

You write "The recent sub-freezing temperatures proved heat pumps are not the most economical heating method here on Long Island. Anyone who has them dreads very cold weather."

Who have you talked with on Long Island? The letter from [Name withheld] does not address geothermal heat pumps (GHPs). Daikin and York manufacture only air source heat pumps, NOT geothermal.

With all this topsy-turvy, deep-dive temperature weather this winter my geothermal heat pump has been working great! This is why I promote them: I've enjoyed one for almost seven years. People I've referred love theirs. So do Canadians.

Here are the two significant differences between air source and geothermal. Air source heat pumps:

  1. rely on outside ambient heat (which, in winter, is colder than that underground) and
  2. require a defrost cycle to keep the outdoor coils from freezing and shutting the system down. That happened to me once when I was staying with friends who had air source. (They had to call a technician to come to thaw out the coil.)
GHPs rely on underground heat that stays relatively constant at 52-57 degrees on Long Island (according to the EPA, see attached map). There is also no need for a defrost cycle since the geothermal heat pump is inside the building.

Hope this clarifies things.

PS I have too much integrity to promote a product I don't find economical or practical.

I have not heard back from him.

Why We Went Geo August 16 2016

... I think we made a great choice in investing our money. Since we save about $108 a month, it’s like getting a tax-free dividend check every month regardless of stock market fluctuations! How much do your stocks, bonds and mutual funds pay you?

New York City Gives a Thumbs Up to Geothermal Heat Pumps January 14 2016

The devastation wreaked by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 has had a profound impact on New York City’s residents and elected officials. Since Sandy, the city has been aggressively working to reduce its carbon footprint.

On Dec. 7, 2015, the New York City Council passed the geothermal energy bill Int. 0609-A-2015. On Jan. 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the local law to amend the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to the use of geothermal energy in the city.

Mayor signs geo bill 609A-2016

Sponsored by Council Member Costa G. Constantinides, this bill requires New York City to identify and implement geothermal heat pump installations in all its new construction and retrofits when it is shown that doing so would be cost effective.

New York Geothermal Energy Organization (NY-GEO) member Bob Wyman, who testified in favor of this bill, wrote “I believe this is the first time that any major city in the US has adopted legislation requiring the use of the Social Cost of Carbon in making spending decisions.” The bill establishes this cost as starting at $128/per metric ton (based on the high end of the federal government’s estimates) over a 20-year period.

Wyman goes on to suggest “It may also be the first time that a city has committed to evaluating geothermal heat pumps for all new construction and retrofits and using them when cost effective.”

There are three requirements in the geothermal bill:

  1. Identification of the types of geothermal systems and the buildings for which they would be suitable
  2. Adoption of rules and registration requirements for those who design and install geothermal systems
  3. Completion of a feasibility study of waterfront properties suitable for the installation of geothermal systems in marine surface waters.

Part of the identification process would include comparisons of conventional heating and cooling technologies with geothermal heat pumps regarding:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions as a result of fuel and electricity consumption
  • Impacts on criteria air pollutant concentrations
  • Annual electricity consumption and impacts on peak demand reduction
  • Potential revenue stream generated from the peak demand reduction using a dollar metric, where applicable
  • Fuel and power costs
  • Net present value of all alternatives considered, based on a 20-year life expectancy and capital costs, operations and maintenance, fuel costs, available federal, state and other non-city governmental funding assistance, and the social cost of carbon.

The bill also calls for an office or agency designated by the mayor to develop an online, publicly available screening tool no later than February 1, 2017. This tool will be used to determine whether an installation of a geothermal system may be cost-effective for a property.

It also requires:

  • Setting up standards for the installation and maintenance of geothermal systems
  • Determining qualifications for persons who will design or install such systems
  • Maintaining a publicly available registry of such persons
  • Informing property owners and installers of geothermal systems regarding the potential benefits of coupling a photovoltaic system with a geothermal system for buildings within the city
  • Performing a technical and regulatory feasibility study on implementing a geothermal system for waterfront properties.

Geothermal installations are not new in New York City, but this enthusiastic move forward is. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, The Bronx Zoo and the Statue of Liberty are all heated and cooled with geothermal heat pumps. And Cornell University's planned NYC Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island will have a four-acre geothermal well field as part of its goal to be the largest net-zero energy building in the eastern United States.

Those with vision and a determination to deal with climate change are showing us all the way.

For another take on this legislation, see Jay Egg's blog on LinkedIn.

Governor Vetoes Both Geothermal Bills January 14 2016

Governor Cuomo has vetoed the geothermal tax credit and sales tax exemption bills.

This is very disappointing but we are prepared to move forward.

The rationale expressed was that the bills would impact state revenues and the appropriate venue for revenue impacting legislation is in the budget.

Our legislative sponsors are looking to include these measures in the upcoming 2016-17 budget.

The budget will be proposed by the Governor at the beginning of the year and is scheduled to passed by April 1st and to take effect July 1st.

The Governor's comment line remains 518-474-1041 if you wish to express your opinion.

We will be in touch as things develop.

Thanks to all of you who participated in the petitions, letters and calls in support of this initiative.

Please stick with us as we move forward.

The 7 Wins of Pro Geothermal Heat Pump Legislation September 10 2015


Legislation supporting the growth of geothermal heat pump (GHP) systems will create multiple wins for New York State, its geothermal industry and customers, as well as New Yorkers in general.

  1. It will make GHP systems more affordable and thus more economically attractive to all. Since geothermal heating and cooling is more efficient than conventional (oil, natural gas, propane and electric) systems, it uses less energy.

  2. As more residential and commercial property owners install geothermal heat pumps not only will their overall energy bills decrease, but so will the summer peak load demand on our electric grid. Peak demand is a major factor in setting and driving up electric rates.

  3. Although overall electricity consumption will increase, it will occur in the winter. Reducing peak demand in summer and adding to the electric load in winter (when its usage is otherwise low) increases the overall utilization of power plants. This evening-out of use can help to reduce electricity costs for all ratepayers in New York State.

    The New York State Department of Public Service estimates that each 1% improvement in system efficiency (i.e. annual power plant capacity utilization) will yield from $221 to $330 million in annual savings to ratepayers across the state. This is due to lower supply and delivery investment needs.

  4. As similar legislation has aided the solar industry in creating thousands of jobs in our state, this same strategy will allow the burgeoning New York State GHP industry to become both more competitively priced and profitable. This sets up a positive feedback loop making it easier for more residential and commercial property owners to switch.

  5. It will provide more well-paying jobs—that cannot be outsourced—to help grow our economy. Occupations such as geothermal designers and engineers, installers, drillers and excavators, service providers, equipment distributors and manufacturers will be in greater demand.

  6. At the same time, this technology’s many benefits will help New York State meet its renewable energy and energy efficiency goals (“80 by 50”) as outlined in the 2015 New York Energy Plan and the Public Service Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative.

  7. The final winner will be New York State’s environment. As more consumers convert to non-combustion heating, smoke, particulate matter and greenhouse gases—which are implicated in climate change—will decrease. Cleaner air helps our most vulnerable residents—young children, the elderly and anyone with a respiratory condition—to breathe easier. And everyone benefits when climate change is abated.

Heat without fire. Cool with the ground.

©2015 Billii Roberti. Used with permission.




Buffalo News Article cites NY-GEO Member August 10 2015

 The Buffalo News cites NY-GEO Member Buffalo Geothermal and Natale Builders in their article

Nature Watch: We should tap into the energy stored in the ground

Rivera Greens January 17 2015

Rivera Greens, New York State’s first green development, features geothermal

Natale Builders’ newest development — Rivera Greens — in Clarence, N.Y., includes 35 single-family homes built to an energy efficiency standard unparalleled in the Buffalo/Niagara region.

In fact, Rivera Greens is the first certified National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Standards Eco-Friendly Development in New York State. All home designs in the development are ENERGY STAR® rated and are expected to save homeowners 60 to 100 percent of their utility bills. What’s more, the builder is committed to offering these homes at no extra cost to its customers, demonstrating a new standard in home building and leading the way by applying cutting-edge energy-efficient technology, including geothermal heating and cooling systems.

Full Article

Operating Data
Natale Builders
Slinky Loop

21st Century Heating & Cooling January 17 2015

Are you concerned about how to keep your home warm as fossil fuel supplies continue to dwindle and the price rises?

Are you concerned about the air pollution your furnace or boiler is sending up your chimney?

Do you wonder if there is an alternative to high electric bills from air conditioning in the summer?

Geothermal heating and cooling can allay your concerns. It is the most efficient way to condition indoor spaces, by drawing up heat from the ground in winter and returning it in summer.