Geothermal energy has been used for thousands of years; starting with making use of hot springs for bathing and district heating. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that a heat pump system was successfully installed for commercial use.
Since then, the use of geothermal heating and cooling has increased significantly, and it is now available for homeowners.
So how does geothermal work, anyway? The Earth’s temperature remains essentially constant throughout the year. Using heat pumps, heat can either be taken from the Earth and used to warm your home in winter, or heat can be transferred from your home into the ground in summer.
In order to achieve this, several components work together. Outside, horizontal or vertical geothermal ground loop pipes are installed for the heat transfer liquid (usually a glycol mixture). These pipes are connected to the heat pump, which does the work of providing the right temperature to your home. Then there’s the distribution system, which may be hydronic (water-based) or an air handler.
Why Go Geothermal?
Here are six reasons to upgrade to a geothermal system:
1. Energy bills decrease because you are only paying for electricity to run heat pumps. Unlike electric heat, the electricity used for a geothermal system is for running the heat pumps, which is less than that needed to provide heat directly. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), geothermal systems can save you 30-70% of heating costs and 20-50% of your cooling costs.
2. Geothermal energy is environmentally friendly. There are no greenhouse gases as with a furnace and it’s a renewable energy source.
3. The equipment is hidden in a mechanical room, so you don't have to worry about how it looks. Piping is buried in your yard and all controls, valves and piping reside in the mechanical room, out of sight. You also have the added benefit of quiet operation.
4. Geothermal heat pumps have lower maintenance costs and longer lifespans than traditional heating and cooling equipment, saving you money in the long run.
5. Geothermal systems are safer for your family. There is no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as there is with fossil fuel burning equipment.
6. Beginning February 2018, homeowners with geothermal systems, among other sources of renewable energy, can claim a 30% tax credit. Click here for more information about renewable energy tax rebates.
There are some things to keep in mind when deciding to make the switch, however. The initial installation cost can seem a bit daunting, but geothermal heating and cooling will save you significant money in the long run. When considering, and planning for, a geothermal system, be sure to speak with our experts about the number of wells, the right size of equipment for your home, whether to install horizontal loops or vertical loops, and whether you’ll want supplemental heating.
If you are thinking about upgrading to geothermal heating and cooling, give us a call! We're happy to discuss all of the benefits, and help you get started.