New York State lacks traditional geothermal energy sources (volcanoes, geysers and hot springs). However, the earth absorbs almost 50% of the sun's energy. Geothermal heat pumps utilize the energy absorbing capacity of the earth to heat indoor air during the cold winter months and remove heat from indoor air during the warm summer months.
The Main Types of Geothermal Systems
- Closed Loop - fluid (typically a chemical compound) continuously re-circulates in closed piping from underground to a building or complex and back underground for the purpose of heat exchange.
- Open Loop - groundwater or surface water is pumped directly from the earth, used once for the purpose of heat exchange, and then discharged to the surface or underground.
- Standing Column - groundwater is pumped up through a central pipe, used once for heat exchange, and then discharged into the upper casing of the same well.
Environmental Benefits and Financial Incentives for Installation of Geothermal Heat Pumps
- a decrease in fossil fuel combustion and corresponding lower levels of air pollution emissions
- significant reductions in both heating and cooling costs
- lower hot water bills
- high initial investment, but low maintenance costs resulting in a quick return on investment
- a 30% federal tax credit for homeowners who install geothermal heat pump systems
- see Links Leaving DEC's Website in the right column for additional information on tax credits and other incentives
Regulation of Geothermal Well Installation
- DEC's Division of Mineral Resources regulates the drilling, construction, operation and plugging of geothermal wells drilled deeper than 500 feet below the earth's surface.
- DEC's Division of Water - Water Well Program regulates registration and certification of geothermal contractors for certain wells drilled at depths less than 500 feet.