My husband and I are extremely concerned with environmental issues. We make every effort to minimize our carbon footprint. At every opportunity we either walk, bike or take public transportation to our destination. We compost, recycle and collect rain water to irrigate our vegetable garden and fruit orchard. One of our biggest yet most effective investments was the installation of a geothermal heat pump. Although this type of temperature control system costs a great deal more than a more conventional alternative, it has paid for itself in energy efficiency. According to the EPA, geothermal heating and cooling is the most environmentally responsible option on the market. For every one unit of energy required to operate the heat pump, the system produces four units, achieving a 400% efficiency rating. The main reason for the higher investment is the excavation required to implement the ground loop system. A series of pipes is buried in our backyard to take advantage of the relatively stable year round temperature underground. It uses the free and renewable energy supplied by the sun, pulling the heat out of the ground and transferring it into the house. During the summer, the heat pump reverses the operation to draw heat out of the house and send it into the ground. Along with significant savings on our heating and cooling bill, we also enjoy virtually free hot water generation. I like that there’s no combustion process, eliminating carbon monoxide, fumes and greenhouse gas emissions. The geothermal system is wonderfully safe and clean, and keeps our house perfectly comfortable all year round.