Geothermal Heat Pumps

What are they?

Geothermal systems, or water-source heat pumps, are the most energy efficient system available for heating and cooling. Here is a brief video from Climate Master that does a great job of explaining the technology:

W.F. Smith has been installing geothermal heat pump systems for 25 years. Most of the original systems that went in used an open loop configuration, but today’s new installations usually include a closed loop as it eliminates any concerns about minerals in the water effecting the system operation.

Aren’t they too expensive?

Geothermal equipment can actually cost less than some of today’s top-of-the-line air-source heat pump systems, especially once you figure in the 30% Federal Tax Credit. The added cost comes in the loop installation which can be somewhat expensive in the Philadelphia area, but those costs also qualify for the tax credits and the loops are typically guaranteed for 50 years. Much of this cost will depend on your property layout and the amount of loop required by the system(s). We can supply a report using Climate Master’s GeoDesigner software to show you expected operational cost savings so you can see how quickly the savings pays off the added costs.

Everyone, with whom I had personal or telephone contact, was agreeable, helpful and informative. Justin was the service person who initially diagnosed the problem, and represented Smith’s during the sales transaction. Shelly was my telephone contact, and Bill and Aaron…


We have a water well, can we use that for a geothermal system?

It is possible, but geothermal open loop systems can require a much larger volume of water than a domestic water well is usually designed for. Have your well company test your well for capacity and water quality to see if it will work. In some cases, a new well can be drilled for the higher water volume needed, using the existing well to return the water to the earth, saving some costs.

How much land do I need to install this type of system?

There are many ways to install the loop pipes, so there is not one specific answer to this question. Every house requires an evaluation to determine the best way to install the loop piping. The first step is to set up an evaluation by W.F. Smith’s geothermal experts to survey your property and engineer the systems.

I live in the city, can I use this type of equipment?

We have installed geothermal systems in the Northwest sections of Philadelphia (Roxborough and Chestnut Hill). All of the Center City applications we have serviced or installed have been in condos where the units are referred to as water-source heat pumps since the building supplies heated or cooled water using a large boiler and chiller instead of installing pipes in the ground.