Geothermal energy is not discussed enough, probably because it is too expensive to install. The government should mandate that there should be a universal price or that a consumer gets a huge tax break to help offset the costs of installation.
I've been looking into geothermal home heating, and I think it makes a lot of sense. My brother-in-law is having it installed in his house in MN, and his neighbor just did also. I"m interested to find out how much it will cost to install -- even if it were $40,000, if you spread that over 20 years, it would only be $2000 a year to heat, rather than the 5-10k we spent last year and may spend next year. There's a lot of good stuff on the net that makes it look like a good investment.
I live in Florida, where our ground water is 70 degrees Fahrenheit (perfect for geothermal heating and cooling). I have a 2800 sq ft house, and was recently quoted at ~$19,000 to replace my current conventional system.
That cost really doesn't make financial sense. We rarely use our heater or AC from October to April, and out house is pretty efficient. I estimated saving ~$600 to $1,000 annually, so you're looking at a 19 year payback period, which no one in their right mind will think is a good deal.
Part of the problem is a lack of skilled installers in the area, and no incentives for builders to include geothermal systems as part of their standard construction (or even as an option).
Overall, unless you're building new, the better options are to increas the efficiency of your home through added insulation and energy efficient windows, solar and/or tankless hot water heaters, and EnergyStart appliances. Even PV cells on the roof offer a better ROI than geothermal at this point.
I looked into replacing my heating and cooling with geothermal a couple of years ago. It didn't make sense for an existing home. The extra savings had the essence of diminishing returns compared to a basic heat pump, which is what I went for. The cost to drill holes in an existing yard adds to the installation cost. For a new home, before the foundation is laid, this however, is a great solution as the savings can offset the mortgage payments.
The guy I talked to said that it won't work in the Northeast unless your pond is very very deep. Otherwise you are likely to freeze the pond water around your pipes as you suck the heat out of the pipes.
I have some experience in geothermal production in Reno, Nevada. The operational costs are high and due to the high mineral content of the hot water/steam it plugs pipes very quickly. So there are many technical problems to solve before this will be even a minor player in the big picture.
I am most interested in conservation methods of solving our oil crisis. On conservation: all heating and cooling systems for homes should be replaced when they go bad with ground source heat pumps to save 50% on the utility bill. If your gas and electric bill was $3,600 last year with GSHP it would be only $1,800 or less. If only 20% of the homes and businesses would replace worn out heating and cooling systems with ground source heat pumps then half of our energy needs would be solved in the USA. Consider that China knows about ground source heat pumps and is requiring almost all new buildings in China to have ground source heat pumps (The 8,000 sqm Beijing National Stadium called the Birds Nest uses ground source heat pumps). China’s modernization program allows it to skip over old technology and go to the best technology using GSHP. Conservation by using ground source heat pumps (GSHP) is the best alternative while Wind Power from T. Boone Pickens is ramping up. Together GSHP for conservation and Wind energy can make us independent from foreign oil.