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Thomas Residence

two story craftsman houseSyracuse, NY

Square Footage: 1,800 sq ft
Year Built: 1897

The threat of climate change was the strongest motivating factor for investing in a geothermal heat pump as well as rooftop solar photovoltaic electricity at this house in the Tipperary Hill section of the city. This case illustrates that geothermal energy is possible on a small lot in a tight space. The vertical wells were drilled in a small area on the front lawn and in the driveway. The homeowner was able to use the geothermal system to provide heat for radiant heat floors and air heating and cooling.

“I am extremely pleased with the project. Implementing such a system and moving closer to a net zero home is very satisfying.” - Kyle

Installation and Energy Details

Prior Energy system: Gravity natural gas and wood stove. No air conditioning. Blown in insulation in attic and some walls. Bat insulation in basement and in walls where rooms were renovated.

Prior Insulation or Sealing: Blown in insulation in attic and some walls.

New Energy System: Geothermal heat pump, providing both heating and cooling. Wood stove for ambiance. 6.4 kW solar photovoltaic system.

New Insulation or Sealing: N/A

System Specifications:

  • Ground Source Heat Pump: Four ton Geostar Cypress with two 285-foot closed vertical loop wells. Whole house air and hydronic on first floor. Installed by Renaissance HVAC in 2016.
  • System designed by Natural Systems Engineering, PLLC; excavation and drilling by Caster Drilling (Fulton, NY)
  • Solar PV: 6.4 kW

Net Zero? Not yet. More solar photovoltaic to be installed to cover electrical demand.


  • Extremely pleased with the project. Implementing such a system and moving closer to a net zero home is very satisfying.
  • The occupant expects to recoup the costs of the system, but it will be over a very long period of time, i.e. ~30 years.
  • The comfort of heating supplied by the GSHP system is far superior to the dry, dusty heat previously supplied by the gravity natural gas system. Very little noise compared with conventional (air source) air conditioning systems and the previous furnace.
  • Domestic hot water and cook stove remain on natural gas.
  • Exploring installation of additional PV panels on second south facing dormer and east roof and a heat pump domestic hot water heater.
  • Financed $22,000 through KeyBank HELOC at 8% (paid off 2019) and $19,714 from NYSERDA (paid off in 2022)

Motivation for Heat Pump Technology

  • Climate change was a strong motivating factor in pursuing geothermal as well as the opportunity to showcase the design services for Natural Systems Engineering
  • Cost/economics were not a factor in the decisions with the caveat that available incentives made it possible to compensate for the poor return on investment.
  • Personal comfort was a small consideration in the pursuit of the project in that the home did not have AC prior to the installation of the heat pump system.


Cost Category Initial Cost Incentives Final Cost
Ground Source Heat Pump $32,532 30% federal tax credit: $9,760 $22,772
Solar PV System $24,472 NYSERDA rebate @ $.70 per watt: $4,508 40% federal tax credit: $5,989 State tax credit: $5,000 $8,975
Grand Total $57,009 $25,257 (44% of total) $31,747