My husband, Ben and I are extremely energy conscious. We either ride our bicycles or take public transportation whenever possible. We recycle all glass, paper and plastic, compost table scraps, and collect rainwater to water the vegetable garden. When we built our own house, optimizing energy efficiency was a top priority. We hoped to minimize our carbon footprint by constructing a smart, environmentally friendly home. Working with a licensed HVAC contractor, we designed a geothermal heating and cooling system. The purchase price and installation costs of the geothermal equipment was very expensive. We had to invest in major excavation of the backyard to implement the underground loop system. This loop system takes advantage of the stable temperature of the earth all year round, and conveys heat energy to and from the house. It links to an electric heat pump installed inside the house. Because the heat pump is protected from the wear and tear of weather, it can be expected to provide reliable operation for upwards of twenty years. The ground loop system should last a minimum of fifty years. The only energy drawn to run the system is the small amount of electric consumed by the actual heat pump. The system produces about four times more energy than it requires to operate. Ben and I further invested in solar panels to power the system. It costs us virtually nothing to maintain ideal comfort throughout the year. We’ve recovered the cost of the geothermal heat pump in under three years. Plus, we know we’re doing our part to protect the environment from greenhouse gas emissions.