Ground-source heat pumps are heating and cooling systems that transfer heat between the earth and your home. Ground-source heat pumps serve as an all-in-one, central heating and cooling system. Also known as a geothermal heat pump, a ground-source heat pump is the most efficient heating and cooling system available and is extremely reliable even on the coldest days.

Here are some essential questions you should ask your installer before your system is put in:

Configuration

Did you perform a heat load calculation to determine the sizing of the system?

Many installers size systems using general rules and their experience. If you are installing a ground-source heat pump, it is important that the system is well designed, and a heat load calculation for your specific home is an important tool in selecting the right equipment.

What loop type system do you recommend and why?

Make sure you understand what type of loop system (closed or open loop, vertical or horizontal loop) your installer recommends and how much of your yard will need to be redone after the installation is complete.

Cost

What is the installation price and what incentives may be available? Who will apply for these incentives?

Make sure that you understand up front who will apply for any incentives that you are pursuing and when you need to apply for these incentives (before or after installation).

Aside from annual fuel or electricity costs, what other annual costs can I expect (such as regular maintenance or parts)?

MassCEC suggests that you have your heat pumps inspected every one to two years. Ask if your contractor performs routine maintenance or if they have someone that they recommend.

Timing

How far in advance can we plan the installation and how long does the installation take?

Be sure to communicate if you have particular time constraints and get a sense when your installer will be available to do the installation. Summer is the busiest time of the year for ground source heat pump installers, and many installers have some delays during the summer season.

What should I do to prepare for the installation?

Make sure you understand from your installer if there is anything you need to do to prepare to have them working in your home and yard.

Quality Assurance

Do you provide a service agreement and/or warranty for the systems you install? What are the different options?

Make sure you understand what is covered by any service agreement or warranty offered by your contractor. Some warranties cover labor, some cover the equipment, and some cover both.

Have you participated in manufacturer training for the systems you would install, and can you provide references from previous customers?

As with any home improvement project, it is important to ensure that your installer has the right training and a good track record with past customers.

Will you hire subcontractors to complete portions of the project? If so, what will they do? What are the names of these companies and how long have you worked with them?

Many ground-source heat pump installers sub-contract the electrical work. Some will even allow the homeowner to select their own electrician.

Will you provide training for me on how to properly operate and maintain the system (i.e., how to set the thermostat)?

Ground-source heat pumps are relatively simple to operate, but there are a few differences compared to other heating systems, and your installer should be a good educational resource.

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