I have a new listing on Carriage Court in Homer and I’m really excited about it. Why? Not only is this a brand-new house built by a passionate and diligent builder but it’s got geothermal heat! Geothermal heat! I get excited about innovations in heating, especially ones that use clean energy.
What is Geothermal Heating?
Geothermal heating uses a series of pipes buried vertically or horizontally in the ground. A ground source heat pump extracts heat from the earth and carries it up to the house. In some homes, an indoor unit compresses the heat to a higher temperature and distributes it throughout the home. In the house on Carriage Court, the geothermal system heats domestic water, and then uses that hot water heat to warm the air in the house.
What are the Advantages to Geothermal?
Geothermal systems deliver consistent temperatures and efficiencies far greater than conventional heating and ventilation systems. Depending on where you live in Alaska and the cost of electricity, geothermal heat can cost 1/2 to 1/3 the amount of straight electric heating and 1/2 the cost of oil heating. If you’re heating with natural gas and the cost of electricity in your area is expensive, your heating costs will be about the same.
The cool thing about this Carriage Court house is that it combines geothermal heat with passive solar to further reduce heating costs. I’ll talk more about passive solar in a later post.
Are there Tax Advantages to Geothermal?
I called up my trusty accountant, Kathy Toms of Aurora Taxes and asked her for an Alaskan opinion on tax advantages to alternative energy heating systems. Kathy told me that if you were to retrofit your home with geothermal, you’d be eligible for a 30% tax credit (this includes labor and materials and there’s no maximum). You can use this tax credit on a principal residence or a second property but you can’t use it on a rental property.
What would it cost to convert to Geothermal?
The cost to convert to geothermal depends on many factors. Basically, you have to calculate the cost of the indoor system and the cost of the underground loop field (the underground pipes that capture the heat). Add those two together and you’ve got the basic cost of the system. The size of the building you’re trying to heat and the size of the loop field you’ll need are big determining factors.
Where do I learn more?
A great online introduction to geothermal heating can be found at Geothermal Genius
Alaska Geo-Energy is doing the build on the Carriage Court house. They’ve done a few geothermal and passive solar homes in the Homer area and are worth a call if you’re considering greener energy options.
Your Clean Energy, LLC in Anchorage is a clean energy consulting firm who can advise on alternative energy projects throughout the state.
For information on tax savings on alternative energy projects, my go-to is Kathy Toms at Aurora Taxes and Accounting. (907) 235-2411