Geothermal: A New Kind Of Heat Wave

The trend of optimizing home efficiency doesn’t seem to be slowing down–and for good reason! Hawthorn Builders continues to work with clients throughout Needham to implement methods that will not only increase home comfort, but decrease their utility bills for the long run.

Starting a few years ago, Hawthorn Builders began to see a rise in both desire and request for a new kind of internal home heating system. Geothermal heat pumps or ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a central heating and/or cooling system that pumps heat to or from the ground.  Without getting overly technical, GSHPs are electrically powered systems that run deep underground to tap into the stored solar energy of the earth.   These systems use the earth’s relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings.  By taking advantage of the earth’s seasonally moderated temperature (produced from the sun and found in the top layer of the crust) allows for less energy to be expelled to create higher temperatures.

In the summer, the process can be reversed so the heat pump extracts heat from the building and transfers it to the ground. Transferring heat to a cooler space takes less energy, so the cooling efficiency of the heat pump gains benefits from the lower ground temperature.


Each year, about 80,000 units are installed in the US (geothermal energy is used in all 50 US states today) and this number keeps rising.   Currently eight of Hawthorn’s custom houses include their own geo-thermal systems.  Although the upfront costs of installing a Geothermal system is notable higher than conventional methods, Geothermal homes are on average over 45% more energy efficient than standard options.  In fact, now through December 31, 2016 homeowners who install ENERGY STAR qualified geothermal heat pumps are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit.

Stay tuned for further developments in “green-rising” construction.  A new concept of floorboard heating might be in the works….