Members of Hicks Memorial United Methodist Church are breathing a little easier now that the church has gone green.
The church is depending on the earth's temperature to heat and cool the building and for the first time in the church's history, the congregation is enjoying air conditioning.
The Rev. Rich Morris, pastor of the church, said the church has installed a geothermal system that does not depend on fossil fuels such as oil or gas, but does need electricity.
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich) Richard Fruth (left) and the Rev. Rich Morris are seen with the geothermal equipment that heats Hicks Memorial United Methodist Church in Duncansville and provides air conditioning for the first time in the church’s history.
The board of trustees made the decision to install the system after evaluating the church's gas boiler system.
"We realized our boiler system was approaching its last legs," Morris said. He said although the church had not had major problems with the heating system, the members did not want to risk having major problems later.
"In mid-January, it could quit," he said.
Richard Fruth, a member of the church who served as contract administrator, said the system works similar to a refrigerator. A refrigerator takes heat out of the food and forces it through coils which dispel the heat into the kitchen.
The geothermal system extracts heat from the earth using a piping system. Hicks' system uses water which remains at a constant 53 degrees. It is pumped into a heat exchanger. In winter, the water absorbs the earth's heat and distributes it into the heat exchanger. In the summer, the system is reversed to provide air conditioning.
Fruth said there are controls in every room of the building so the temperature can be regulated or turned off when the room is not in use.
The system cost $300,000 and the church is expected to recoup its costs in about eight or nine years. He said the future cost of electricity is the main concern.
Meanwhile, the congregation enjoyed the air conditioning this summer.
It's been welcomed," Morris said.
Although air conditioning does not fulfill any part of the church's mission, Morris believes it removes an obstacle that might prevent people from coming to church.
He recalled a groomsman's reaction at a wedding he performed in the summer of 2008.
"He asked, 'why are the windows open? Isn't the air conditioning on?" Morris said.
He said people expect the church to be climate controlled, and it was a condition that the church wanted to correct.