Geothermal Heat Pumps: How We Installed Our Green Alternative to Fuel Oil Heating


Removing Oil Tank From Yard 

Removing an old fuel oil tank from yard.
Photo by Steve Ehrman

During summer 2018, my husband and I began searching for a home out in the country. For 10 years, we had raised our two sons in a kid-friendly townhouse neighborhood in the exurbs of Northern Maryland, and we were ready for a change. We had become known as the weird neighbors who insisted on raising vegetables in a garden that ran all the way around our end-unit home, and we had come to realize what we really wanted was a large yard with a full garden.

After our youngest son graduated from high school, we found our dream house. Built in 1977, this place was beautiful on the outside and had many new updates on the inside. But the best part was that it sat on an almost 2-acre lot with lots of open space, and was surrounded by large trees on all four sides. It was love at first sight.

Finding Greener Options for Fuel Oil Heating

Then came the home inspection. Everything was going smoothly until the very end, when the inspector discovered a fuel oil tank buried in the front yard. We insisted on a pre-sale inspection, which revealed that the tank was leaking, and by law the state EPA was brought in. Fortunately, the sellers were able to take advantage of a Maryland compensation program to help offset much of the expense of having it removed and properly disposing of the contaminated soil.

This meant that at the time of closing in late June, we were without any heat in the house. We had decided we didn’t want the sellers to simply replace the old tank with an aboveground fuel oil tank. Fuel oil is an increasingly expensive way to heat a home, and, of course, it’s not environmentally friendly. At this point, we decided our best option was probably a conventional electric heat pump. Our dream was a geothermal system, but we thought it would be too cost-prohibitive. I’m happy to say we were wrong.

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