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20 Questions to Ask a Geothermal HVAC Contractor

Are you a local Long Island company?
Are you a member of the Long Island Geothermal Energy Organization (LI-GEO)?
Can you provide references?
Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce?
Is your equipment eligible for any PSEG Long Island utility rebates?
Is your equipment eligible for a Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit?
Is the equipment eligible for a New York State Renewable Energy Personal Tax Credit?
Are you a Factory Authorized Dealer?
What certifications do your technicians have?
Do you do open or closed loop systems? Do you use geothermal grout during installation?
Do you calculate an ACCA Manual J for my home?
Will you give me a copy of the Manual J calculation for my records?
Are you insured?
May I see a copy of your Certificate of Insurance?
Do you provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance for your employees?
How long is your parts warranty and what does it cover?
How long is your labor warranty and what is covered?
Show me the Manufacturer’s Certificate.
Is my current ductwork adequate for the new system?
How do you protect my property?

  1. Are you a local Long Island company?
    Local companies support the local economy and give back to the local community, which may be important in your decision. If there are issues, a local company is more likely to address them to your satisfaction.
  2. Are you a member of the Long Island Geothermal Energy Organization (LI-GEO)?
    LI-GEO is an alliance of the top geothermal professionals in our region. It specifically focuses on the furthering of the geothermal heating and cooling industry by providing a consistent and cohesive approach in geothermal design and installation as a solution to Long Island’s heating and cooling needs. LI-GEO is a self-regulatory organization; members abide by an established code of ethics. If you experience difficulties with a member, please let the organization know.
  3. Can you provide references?
    Not only should they provide references, a business should also be able to offer fact sheets on the equipment you are considering purchasing.
  4. Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce?
    A company may be a member of one or the other or both, but many reputable companies are members of neither. If they are a member of BBB, check their rating to make sure it has an “A” or an “A+” rating.
  5. Is your equipment eligible for any PSEG Long Island utility rebates?
    Ask to see the  PSEG Long Island Residential Geothermal & GeoColumn* Program rebate form and proof the equipment is eligible. PSEG Long Island residential rebates are currently (until the end of 2014) set at $800 or $1500 per heat pump, depending on the efficiency of the unit.The PSEG Long Island commercial geothermal rebate program is even more generous, with rebates at a per-ton rate, not a per-unit rate.
  6. Is your equipment eligible for a Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit?
    The Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit is available until 12/31/2016, (unless the expiration date is extended by Congress). Geothermal heat pump systems can be qualified for this tax credit of 30% of the cost of installing eligible equipment.To make sure your equipment meets eligibility requirements, have this eligibility stated expressly in your contract. Once your system is commissioned your installer will provide you with a Form 5695 (Residential Energy Credits form) for your federal tax return. Also, check with your accountant for details on how you qualify for this individual income tax credit.
  7. Is the equipment eligible for a New York State Renewable Energy Personal Tax Credit?
    No, not at this time. Only Solar Electric (Photovoltaic or PV), Solar Domestic Hot Water and Solar Space Heat technologies are eligible for a New York State income tax credit of 25% of the cost of the system, to a maximum of $5000. The LI-GEO Legislation Committee is working on a legislative bill to include geothermal heat pump systems as eligible systems in the Renewable Energy Personal Tax Credit, at the same level of incentive as solar technologies.
  8. Are you a Factory Authorized Dealer?
    Factory authorized dealers go through a rigorous testing of employees, not only for technical excellence but also for business planning, and business practices. A Factory Authorized Dealer is a good, solid long-term business.
  9. What certifications do your technicians have?
    A professional company will make sure their technicians are properly trained and certified to install the equipment in your home. Ongoing training is very important since the industry changes so rapidly. IGSHPA (International Ground Source Heat Pump Association) is the premier open and closed loop certification organization.
  10. Do you do open or closed loop systems? Do you use geothermal grout during installation?
    Most geothermal heat pump systems are either open or closed loop. Geothermal grout is a special grouting material used to create a permanent, flexible seal to prevent aquifer contamination. It also improves the efficiency and performance of the loop systems by matching the thermal conductivity of the surrounding soil. The use of grout is an industry standard required by IGSHPA.
  11. Do you calculate an ACCA Manual J for my home?
    ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) sets the standards for the design, maintenance, installation, testing, and performance of indoor environment systems. The Manual J calculation is a detailed assessment, which turns into a written report, of the structure of your building to determine its heat gain and heat loss.A company representative needs to come to your home and take measurements (of the lot, the building and its rooms, windows and doors, and note the building’s orientation and any shading issues) that will go into the Manual J calculation. It is needed to determine the proper sizing of the unit for your needs and is also required to qualify for both the Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit and the LIPA rebate.
  12. Will you give me a copy of the Manual J calculation for my records?
    A professional contractor will take the time to review your needs, size the equipment properly and offer options, from which you may choose. The contractor will often give you a copy of the Manual J calculation after the installation is commissioned. Some may provide a copy before you sign a contract, but they may ask to be reimbursed for the time and effort expended to produce the report.
  13. Are you insured?
    Some companies may not carry liability insurance, so what happens if damage is done or the installation goes bad? Who is going to pay to take care of it?
  14. May I see a copy of your Certificate of Insurance?
    Feel free to ask to see the certificate; any legitimate company will have it readily available.
  15. Do you provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance for your employees?
    Sometimes smaller companies do not have worker’s compensation for their employees so be sure to ask. If a worker is injured and there is no worker’s compensation insurance, you may be held liable under your homeowner’s insurance policy.
  16. How long is your parts warranty and what does it cover?
    Heat pump manufacturers’ warranties are generally 10 years or more. The field equipment may have a warranty for 10 years also. Generally, most parts are covered by the warranty; however, trip charges or diagnostic charges may apply.
  17. How long is your labor warranty and what is covered?
    Most labor warranties cover 1-5 years Get at least one year on parts if it is for service, but certainly ask. Many times warranty labor does not cover trip, diagnostic or overtime charges. Be sure to ask so there are no surprises.
  18. Show me the Manufacturers Certificate.
    Be sure the Certificate matches the make and model number actually installed.
  19. Is my current ductwork adequate for the new system?
    Are my ducts properly sized? Do they need sealing? Do I need additional return air? Should I consider zoning to improve comfort? These are all good questions to ask your geothermal installer.
  20. How do you protect my property?
    Do they use booties (shoe covers), mats, throw rugs, tarps to protect floors and furniture?

(Inspired and derived from: Questions to ask an HVAC contractor before buying)

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