Protecting People & the Planet: How Two Retirees Are Going Green with Geothermal

Green energy, sustainability, and carbon footprints are just eco-friendly buzzwords until we make them personal. Like many people, Elaine Weir and Stephen Sherman valued sustainable living, but they struggled to find ways to align their values and actions.

The couple experienced the pitfalls of pollution first-hand. While living in Westchester County, NY, their daughter developed asthma. During their summer vacations in the Adirondack, her asthma attacks were no longer present.

There the mountain air was much cleaner than the polluted air in Westchester County. Their daughter, now an adult, has moved to Lake Placid, NY, to avoid the pollution in Westchester County, NY. Her apartment is completely electric therefore causing no pollution in her home. 

Elaine and Stephen worked at the New York Stock Exchange and Citibank, respectively, requiring a daily commute to the city. Each morning they walked to the train instead of taking the car, a practice they maintained for more than two decades.

They considered installing solar panels in their quest to reduce air pollution and live more sustainably, but their roof grade was too steep. Instead, they switched their electricity to clean energy sources, mainly wind turbines and a little solar.

In addition, they joined their town’s food recycling program to reduce methane gas release in landfills. The bonus with the food recycling program is the compost distribution, which has nurtured their garden. But they were still looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

As Elaine explains, “we were looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and live sustainably, and the biggest polluters were our heating system and our two cars.” 

A solution emerged when they came across a Facebook advertisement for a geothermal home heating solution. 

Con Edison & Aesthetic Improvements Make the Difference

Elaine and Stephen responded to the ad by Dandelion Energy, the country’s largest residential geothermal company, which provided a free in-home assessment and cost estimate. Dandelion’s team evaluated the couple’s home, determining the most effective way to deploy a geothermal heating and cooling solution. 

Before Dandelion came and explained geothermal, Elaine and Stephen thought geothermal was only for heating, so it was quite a pleasant surprise to find out geothermal was both heating and cooling. The rebates from the couple’s local utility, Con Edison, and a federal tax credit made Dandelion’s solution even more affordable. 

Westchester home finds more green space by installing geothermal underground, eliminating air conditioning units in the yard.

 

After Elaine and Stephen ran the numbers, they realized installing geothermal heating, and cooling system was less expensive than purchasing a new electric car. They noted a new car depreciates in value upon the purchase.

However, an investment in geothermal would add resell value to their home. They considered that the older of the two air conditioning units may need replacement soon, and their twenty-five-year-old gas boiler was not energy efficient.

What really sold Geothermal for Elaine was getting rid of the air conditioning units. She said, “The air conditioning units sat right outside our screened-in porch and under our bedroom window. It always made noise, and it constantly woke me up when it turned or in the middle of the night.”

Elaine also thought about a new beautiful garden once the air conditioning units were removed from the outside of their house. After Elaine and Stephen reviewed the advantages, they concluded installing geothermal was the best choice.

Their home would no longer be their primary polluter, and they finally had a way to prioritize their health and sustainability commitments where it mattered most – their home.

Dandelion Energy geothermal installation at Westchester home.

 

After installing geothermal, the change was drastic and immediate. Elaine shares, “with geothermal, I don’t hear a thing. It’s so nice and quiet!”

Achieving Their Sustainability Ambitions

Dandelion’s geothermal heating and cooling system also allowed the couple to live their values with a less expensive solution than many available options. The family’s energy bill decreased while improving their in-home air quality. They even took better advantage of their heating and cooling solution.

“In the winter, we used to keep the house temperature on average 58 degrees since we were often not home. As soon as COVID hit, we were home all the time.  We kept our home at a comfortable temperature. Even after raising our average house temperature by 10 degrees, we did not incur higher energy costs.”

Many of their neighbors experienced rising heating costs associated with the pandemic and rising natural gas prices, Elaine and Stephen’s energy costs remained the same. In the summer, their energy bills were smaller even though they kept the house cooler and more comfortable.

In fact, when Con Edison released their comparable efficiency analysis, the couple was ranked using 50% less energy than the most efficient houses in the neighborhood. The couple was motivated by a desire to reduce their carbon footprint, but the cost savings have been a welcome benefit.

Affordable, Effective, Efficient Living for Everyone 

Elaine and Stephen made a life-changing decision to invest in a geothermal heating and cooling solution. Their sustainability efforts can be a model for others looking to lower their carbon footprints and their energy bill.   

Elaine enjoys gardening in her Westchester area home.

When asked about geothermal efficacy for other homeowners in their situation, Elaine replied, “If you’re building a new house, it’s a no brainer. Why install anything else? However, for those who already have a house, they have more to consider. If your home turns out to be a suitable fit, I highly recommend switching to Geothermal like we did.”

Elaine and Stephen’s in-home transformation proves that with geothermal, even old things can become new again. It’s also a reminder that our green living values and ambitions start where we are. They start at home.