These are photos of the actual equipment necessary for our geothermal heat. The first photo is the air handler in the attic, which handles the 2nd story heat. The second photo is the air handler in the basement, which controls the ground floor, and the “heat pump” or compressor, which circulates the fluid through all those coils 200 feet deep in our backyard. That’s right, the heat pump is in the basement, which means there’s no loud, unsightly A/C unit in the backyard–one of the best things about geothermal if you have a small yard or are a landscape snob!
We opted to go with a dual system (separate units for the upstairs and downstairs) for a few reasons. First, our contractor suggested it based on the square footage of the house. Second, based on the layout of the house, it was much easier to run the downstairs ductwork in the basement and the upstairs ductwork in the attic, rather than to retrofit ducts for both stories into/around solid brick walls. Third, we may someday rent the downstairs as a second apartment (and even if we don’t, we’re not using it right now in its unfinished state), so having separate thermostats allows us to keep the two stories at different temperatures.
And let me back up for a minute here. The original basement stairs were narrow, steep, and slanted to one side. They were scary enough that the dog would not walk on them. There was even a piece of paper tacked to the basement door when we first looked at the house warning us to be careful on the dangerous stairs.
In order to get all that equipment into the basement, Aaron and John set about rebuilding the staircase. The new stairs are sturdy, level, and not at all scary to Carmen-the-dog, who promptly ran down them, sniffed around the dirt floor, and urinated. This dog, who has not had a house-training accident in over four years, then came up to us wagging her tail as if to say thanks for her new indoor bathroom. I guess the dirt floor is confusing to her. Carmen has since been banned from the basement.