Recently, I have been traveling the northeastern part of the United States, and I am finding that due to the lack of new construction, water well drilling is slow. Many of the drillers are diversifying into the abandonment of oil wells, and/or they are getting into geothermal loop installations.

I first became involved in geothermal loops almost 20 years ago. It has continued to grow, and due to the current economy, it is even more popular. It is becoming popular in other countries as well. People are going green to preserve the environment, as well as to be more economical.

Ground source heat pump technology is a growing trend, but the concept isn’t a new one. In fact, the concept of the heat pump first was developed in 1852.

A little history from the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association: “In the 1940s, the heat pump was known for its superior efficiency. The efficiency was especially useful in the 1970s. The Arab oil embargo awakened conservation awareness, and launched interest in energy conservation despite cheap energy prices. That is when Dr. James Bose, professor at Oklahoma State University, came across the heat pump concept in an old engineering text.

“Dr. Bose used the idea to help a homeowner whose heat pump was dumping scalding water into his pool. Dr. Bose fashioned the heat pump to circulate the water through the pipes instead of dumping the water into the pool. This was the beginning of the new era in geothermal systems. Dr. Bose returned to Oklahoma State University and began to develop his idea. Since then, Oklahoma has become the center of ground source heat pump research and development. The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association was formed in Oklahoma, and is based on the campus of Oklahoma State University, where Dr. Bose serves as executive director.”

The initial investment in a geothermal system costs more, but in the long-term, it pays off. Our government and some states are giving tax credits and other incentives for going green. Factories, businesses, schools, colleges, state buildings, state parks and private homes are installing geothermal systems to save our environment, as well as save money in the future.

Some states require a licensed driller of that state to be on-site while any drilling construction is being done. These drillers and/or their employers are licensed in their respective state to drill, however, because of the cost, it usually isn’t practical for them to be licensed in every state. Most of these drillers are qualified drillers – it’s just that they aren’t licensed drillers in all states where they need to drill.

My company, Drilling Consultants International, often is contracted as the licensed on-site driller (site setter) for mechanical and drilling contractors in several states. One site driller can be the licensed driller over one or several drills at a site. The site setter doesn’t interfere with the drilling procedures unless it involves safety, construction practices or the respective state requirements.

Depending on the physical locations and drilling formations, some areas require loops to 60 feet, and other locations require loops to 400 feet. Some places require mud rotary, some require air (downhole hammer) drills, and some need a combination of both mud and air. Many mechanical contractors today prefer deep holes, as this method does less damage to the landscape when drilling and installing the loops.

Almost everyone is interested in geothermal systems. Bring it up in barbershops and beauty shops; you’ll find that almost everyone is interested in it. Become the expert, and I promise that people will be calling you. Call on the HVAC contractors in your area, and let them know that you can do the drilling.

Become certified and an accredited vertical loop installer by the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association. Visit for more information.

Geothermal drilling is helping drilling contractors stay in business – some even are excelling and purchasing newer equipment. Do your research; know the demand in your area, what equipment you need and what you have to charge before jumping into geothermal systems. Then, learn how to sell geothermal, and whom to contact. Keep in mind, though, geothermal drilling isn’t for everyone.