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Letter: How we heat, cool our homes matters

How we heat, cool our homes matters

A recent letter correctly noted that geothermal “is more efficient and far less costly than current methods of heating and cooling.” Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) are becoming common in New York State, and are a great alternative to heating buildings by burning fossil fuels like gas, oil or propane.

The recently adopted New York State Energy Plan recognizes that in New York, we generate more greenhouse gases heating our buildings than by generating electricity. Heating and cooling our buildings efficiently with renewable energy will become increasingly more urgent as we address the challenge of climate change.

The letter writer seemed to confuse GHPs with geothermal electricity generation, more common out West, which accesses the heat deep within the earth to produce steam to drive turbines.

GHP systems exchange heat with the ground below the frost line, which stays at a near constant temperature. In summer, they deposit heat and in winter, they withdraw it. The inside heat pump amplifies the heating or cooling to comfortable levels.

The underground heat exchanger is typically a closed loop of plastic pipe that circulates water with antifreeze. It can be installed in a day or two for a typical home, employing the same equipment used to drill wells and to excavate foundations. The writer made references to “loud explosives over protracted periods” as a drawback, but that wouldn’t apply to GHP systems.

Two local legislators, State Sen. Robert Ortt and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, successfully shepherded a tax credit for GHPs through this legislative session. When signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it will create jobs and open a significant pathway forward to sustainability in our state.

Bill Nowak

Executive Director, NY-GEO