What is Geothermal?


Geothermal Draws Energy from the Earth

Geothermal heating and cooling systems – also called geoexchange or ground-source heat pumps – provide all-season comfort by tapping the energy that is naturally stored in the earth.
This energy isn't just renewable: it's constant.

Open and Closed Loop Ground Source Systems

This can be done by using either a dedicated open or closed loop ground source. In the frigid New England temperatures we suggest using either an open loop standing column well system or a vertical bore-hole closed loop application.

Ultra Geothermal prefers to install closed loops so the out-of-pocket maintenance costs to the homeowner are as low as they can be. For this reason we can work with you to design either a vertical closed loop or even a horizontal closed loop, if you have enough land space.


1How does a geothermal system work?
Geothermal heat pumps use the constant ground source temperature of the earth (between 45-55 degrees) to heat and cool your home.
2Can I use the same system as a cooling system in the summer?
Yes, a geothermal system uses the constant temperature of the earth to both heat and cool your home, which is a major benefit to these systems.
3How do I know the system will have long lasting performance?
Geothermal systems have been around since the 1970's. The technology now available is very efficient and much more affordable than earlier systems.
4Can a geothermal system be installed in any house?
For the most part, geothermal installations can work for any building as long as a ground source system or earth coupling can be identified. This would be either an open or closed loop system, which is explained below.
5Can you install a system into an older home or is geothermal only for new construction?
Geothermal systems can be installed in both old and new houses but each application is different. The size of the system needed is determined by the efficiency of your home. The factors used to determine efficiency are insulation type and R-values and if you recently upgraded to Energy Star-rated windows or insulation.
6If I am considering geothermal for a new construction home, what is the biggest advantage?
Not having to purchase fossil fuels. The payback period for installing a geothermal system in a new construction home is very short. The price of installation is about 20-30% higher than a conventional heating and cooling system, not including the ground source. The future cost of fossil fuels is uncertain and geothermal allows you not to be dependent on that.
7What is the difference between an open loop and closed loop system?
An open loop system draws water from and returns it to a standing column well. A closed loop system re-circulates water and glycol solution (coolant) through either a vertical or horizontal loop to pick up or release temperature, depending on the season.
8What is the best choice for my home here in New England, open or closed loop?
The best application for each house varies. We look at available land, water quality, and what the customer is looking for the geothermal to do and also the expected paybacks on the system. Each application has different circumstances and we can help you look at all of that.
9What types of existing heating systems are compatible with a geothermal installation?
Radiant floor heating (in a concrete slab or above sub-floor application) and hot air heating systems with the appropriate ductwork can be readily converted to a geothermal system. Correct zoning and balanced airflow throughout the house are also important factors.
10What if I have a hot water baseboard system in my house?
A geothermal system produces a 120-degree maximum temperature, which isn’t high enough to work with hydronic baseboard systems. Many people, however, still choose to install a geothermal system by adding appropriate air ductwork.
11What if I currently have central air conditioning in my house?
If you have central air, you may have the ductwork necessary for installing a geothermal system. This can be determined by a site visit by our geothermal design crew.
12How large of an area can a geothermal system heat and cool?
Geothermal can work with any size house. The system tonnage needed to accommodate the house can be accurately sized using the square footage of the house and insulation R-values. If the house is very large, several systems are installed that work independently for different zones of the house in both radiant and air applications.
13What is a zone and how do I know how many are needed?
The house is split into zones according to how the airflow disperses into different areas of the house to balance heating and cooling throughout. This will be determined upon a site visit by Ultra Geothermal.
14Can I use my existing well for the geothermal system?
You can use an existing well as long as it is deep enough and produces sufficient gallons per minute not to impact the production of water for domestic use.
15How deep should the well be and how many gallons per minute should it produce?
A rough guideline is that the well should be about 100 feet deep for every 500 square feet of house and should produce at least 8 gallons per minute if you are using it for both geothermal and domestic water use.
16Is there a benefit to having the system on a separate well even if my well can accommodate it?
Yes, if you use a separate well, you can be confident that your domestic water production will not be affected.
17What is the maintenance and upkeep of the system after installation?
A geothermal heat pump does not use any fossil fuels so it is much cleaner than any other heating or cooling system. The only maintenance required is one simple filter change every season and running water through a filter on the well pump. This can all be done by you, saving you money on maintenance calls that are required on other systems.
18The energy has to be drawn from somewhere so what other costs are involved?
The well pump that circulates the water is powered by electricity, and so is the compressor and fan motor in the heat pump. The cost of purchasing fossil fuels in the home is eliminated and the heating cost is now deferred to an electric bill, but runs at about 50-75% savings on an annual basis.
19What is a price range on cost for installation?
We cannot give an exact price for installation until we look at your house or, if it is new construction, your building plans. In the meantime, we can give you a rough idea if you call us with the following information:
  • Location of the house
  • Age of the house
  • Size of house (square footage)
  • Current heating system (hot air, hot water, radiant)
  • Type of insulation and R-values
  • Whether you have a well and, if so, its production rate and depth
20What types of rebates are available?
To learn about specific rebates you may be eligible for, contact your local utility company. There is also a federal tax credit found under the IRS form 5695.

Contact us to learn which system is best for your home and to get a free estimate.

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