Geothermal energy could be new heating, cooling alternative

  • People seek cheap, environmentally friendly ways to heat, cool homes
  • Some say geothermal communities are the way to go
  • One woman in a geothermal neighborhood got her monthly electric bill to $50

(NewsNation) — It might be tough for some to imagine living in Texas without an air conditioner — but residents of one neighborhood outside Austin say they don’t need it.

Instead, they rely on geothermal energy. Geothermal energy uses underground water to heat or cool people’s homes, saving them hundreds on their utility bills and easing the strain on the Texas power grid.

Each house in the Whisper Valley neighborhood has its own pump, which provides heating, cooling and hot water to the residence. These pumps, which are powered mainly by solar panels, are connected to the community’s geothermal energy grid, according to Whisper Valley’s website.

Shirley Paz, who is retired, moved to Whisper Valley five years ago. At her last place, she was paying almost $200 a month for electricity. Now, Paz’s bill is less than $50 a month.

“Because they are tapping into a very constant temperature right below the foundation, they are able to cool the homes very effectively,” Greg Wolfson, chief technology officer of Ecosmart Solution, the company behind the geothermal systems in Whisper Valley, said. “That’s why the bills are low.”

The neighborhood’s builders say their goal is to reduce energy use by at least 75%.

Builders say the system holds up in extreme heat and cold, including in situations like the 2021 winter storm, when the Texas power grid failed. More than 200 people died and thousands were left in the dark for days.

As a result, developers say now is the time to focus on creating more energy-resilient homes throughout the United States.

“People are looking for an impact from a climate standpoint — what can I do, but also what can I control from my living situation?” Peter Merrigan, of Taurus Investment Holdings, said. “I think this is a solution for people to consider.”

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