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The installation of geo-thermal heating in homes is known to be up to three times more expensive than the installation of standard heating methods such as oil or gas-burning heaters, fireplaces, and air conditioning. However, architects hypothesize that geo-thermal heating is still cheaper in the long run since, not relying on fuel, it has no operational expenses.
Which of the following investigations is most likely to yield significant information that would help evaluate the architects' hypothesis?
This answer choice doesn't make sense because it attempts to compare time and money, which are two different parameters.
This answer choice suggests that we compare between the monthly costs of both options. However, we already know that geo-thermal heating has an advantage in this field since it has no operational costs at all. Furthermore, this method disregards the installation expenses so it is hardly an accurate means of comparing the two.
This answer choice suggests that we work out which method is cheaper by comparing the fuel consumption rates in each of the standard heating methods. This data may be useful for a comparison between standard heating methods, but that is not the case here. We are required to find a way of comparing standard heating methods (as a group) with geo-thermal heating, which is not mentioned in this answer choice.
Comparing the heating capacities of each option cannot help us since we are not trying to establish which option produces more heat - we are trying to establish which costs less.
We can figure out if the architects were right to hypothesize that geo-thermal heating is relatively cheaper by comparing the expensive aspects of each option - operational expenses for standard heating methods vs. a relatively expensive installation for geo-thermal heating.