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Clausen Residence

two story farmhouse and gazebo stand in winterTully, NY

Square Footage: 2,800
Year Built: 1923

Motivated by concern about climate change, the Clausens converted from heating with fuel oil to a geothermal heating system in 2016. This complements their decision to install additional solar photovoltaic units in 2017 (adding to a system installed by previous owners in 2012). They are pleased with the outcome, remarking that in addition to reducing their carbon footprint, they are looking forward to long-term cost savings, and they enjoy avoiding the price volatility of fuel oil.

Installation and Energy Details

Prior Energy system: Fuel oil boiler with baseboard radiators and separate fuel oil hot water heater. No air conditioning.

Prior Insulation or Sealing: Spray foam insulation in attic and basement rim joists. Crawl spaces sealed with spray foam.

New Energy System: Geothermal heat pump, providing both heating and cooling, and separate heat pump for hot water. Two solar photovoltaic arrays.

New Insulation or Sealing: N/A

System Specifications:

  • Vertical Well Ground Source Heat Pump: Water-to-water whole house, retained existing baseboard radiators. 6 ton Geostar Aston with ten 75-foot closed loop wells. Installed by Halco 2016.
  • 18.55 kW (two arrays installed in 2012 and 2017)

Net Zero? No, but within 200-1000 kw-hours.


  • Changeover successfully avoided the need to use fossil fuels for heating and hot water.
  • Additional benefits included long-term cost savings, reduction in exposure to fuel price volatility and elimination of need to schedule fuel oil deliveries. An additional benefit is reduction of the odor in the house associated with burning fuel oil.
  • The Clausens plan to further insulate the house and explore additional air sealing around windows and doors and/or window/door replacement if appropriate.

Motivation for Heat Pump Technology

  • Climate change was a highly motivating factor in pursuing geothermal. Also, the boiler and hot water heater were over 20 years old and therefore due for replacement.
  • The tax credits and other federal, state and local incentives were helpful in reducing the upfront cost and bringing down the payback period, though the Clausens would have likely proceeded regardless for environmental reasons, even in the absence of the tax credits.


Cost Category Initial Cost Incentives Final Cost
Ground Source Heat Pump $44,000 NYSERDA rebate: $1,000 30% federal tax credit: $13,200 $29,800
Insulation $6,000 30% federal tax credit: $1,800 $4,200
Solar Photovoltaic $35,000 NYSERDA rebate: $4,000 30% federal tax credit: $9,00025% NY State tax credit: $5,000 $17,000
Heat pump hot water heater $2,800 30% federal tax credit: $840 $1,960
Grand Total $87,800 $34,840 (~40% of total) $52,960