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<<I don't know about other areas of the South, but here in Atlanta, heat pumps are fairly common, and I find it very hard to believe they cost an extra $20 because I've seen them in the less expensive houses.

Geothermal heat pumps can require extensive trenching or drilling in order to lay pipe which can collect heat from the ground which can make heat pumps a lot more efficient than heat pumps using air as a source of heat in cold weather.

The idea that that would substantially increase costs is quite reasonable. Almost a certainty.

Seattle Pioneer
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