Geothermal: a little-known but efficient way to heat and cool your house

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. trending / ˈtrɛn dɪŋ / (adj.) – widely mentioned or discussed on social media or news websites

    The celebrity couple’s breakup became a trending topic online.

  2. installation / ˌɪn stəˈleɪ ʃən / (n.) – the act or process of putting a machine, furniture, or equipment in a certain place so that it can be used

    The installation of CCTV cameras around the area is for our security.

  3. evolve / ɪˈvɒlv / (v.) – to develop or gradually change often into a better or more advanced state

    Businesses need to evolve to keep up with the consumers’ needs.

  4. cost-effective / ˈkɔst ɪˈfɛk tɪv / (adj.) – producing the best possible results without costing a lot of money

    Taking public transportation to go to work is more cost-effective than driving your car.

  5. reap / rip / (v.) – to get something good, such as a reward, as a direct result of one’s actions

    You’ll soon reap the benefits of having a healthier lifestyle.


Read the text below.

More than one-third of all US energy consumption is from heating and cooling homes and buildings — a significant contribution to climate change. Air source heat pumps are a trending topic as a potential solution, but experts say a different kind of heat pump — geothermal ones — is an even more efficient option.

A geothermal heat pump installation is underway in Cortlandt, New York. Geothermal heat pumps use underground temperatures instead of outdoor air — unlike the units you see that look like fans in a box outside homes and businesses. To install ground source systems, contractors bring in heavy equipment and drill to run a loop of flexible piping several hundred feet deep in your yard.

Dandelion, born out of a Google innovation lab in 2017, designs, installs and maintains its own systems in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. “Geothermal is evolving rapidly. We are seeing it go into much more urban spaces, so right now there are several New York City housing projects that are switching over to geothermal because it’s cost-effective, you know, like, if you’re looking at how much does it cost to operate those buildings over time, that upfront cost of putting the ground loops in is totally worth it,” explains Kathy Hannun, Dandelion President & Co-Founder.

A major push is now underway to get people to consider ground source heat pumps because they use far less electricity than other heating and cooling methods. Dandelion is currently working on a partnership with Lennar Corp, one of the largest home builders in the country and thinks in the future, new homes will be built with geothermal instead of natural gas.

“A typical home using fuel oil in this part of the world, so let’s say New York, but, you know, anywhere around here, might be spending $4,000-5,000 a year on fuel oil and air conditioning bills. That same home will probably be spending about $1,000 a year on electricity with a geothermal system,” says Hannun.

People who live in places with cold winters and hot summers reap the biggest savings. Residential geothermal heat pumps currently make up just 1% of the US heating and cooling market.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Geothermal heat pumps are considered efficient, but the installation cost of such a system may be high. Do you think a lot of people will be willing to install geothermal heat pumps despite their high cost? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Would you be willing to pay a higher upfront cost for installation if it means lower energy bills over time? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • More than one-third of all US energy consumption is from heating and cooling homes and buildings. In your country, is electricity expensive? What appliances at your home mostly consume energy? Discuss.
  • What do you and your household usually do to lower the cost of electricity at home? Do you consider yourself and your household good at keeping the electricity consumption low? Why or why not? Discuss.