A geothermal heat pump can help chop some money off your energy bill, while also helping the environment.
But as with any major home modification, making the switch to this type of heating isn’t something you should tackle without first educating yourself.
How does it work?
Also known as a “ground source heat pump,” a geothermal system transfers heat from the ground to your house through a series of underground pipes filled with water or antifreeze. These pipe loops are hooked up to a geothermal heat pump in your home, which serves – depending on the time of year – as a furnace or air conditioner.
In the winter months, the liquid pulls heat from the ground and sends it to the geothermal unit, distributing heat into the home through a forced air or hydronic system.
And when you need to keep your home cool, the process works in reverse: the pump removes heat from the house and sends it into the ground.
This system offers much greater efficiency than conventional heating systems, as it just moves heat around, rather than burning fuel to create warmth or coolness.
On very cold nights, these heat pumps can reach an exceptionally high coefficient of performance – 3 to 6 – compared to a COP of 1.75 to 2.5 for air-source heat pumps on cool days.
Is this a new form of technology?
The geothermal heat pump is older than the cowboy hat, the dustpan and the game of football. First conceptualized in 1853 by the Irish physicist William Thomson, it was developed two years later by Austrian scientist Peter von Rittinger.
But it wasn’t until the 1940s that the first successful commercial heat pump program was installed, at the Commonwealth Building in Portland, Oregon.
Roughly 80,000 units are installed around the country each year. Geothermal heating is also popular in Scandinavia; it was the most common home heating method in Finland for much the period between 2006 and 2011.
What will it cost?
We’ll be honest: the set-up costs for a geothermal system can be quite high – about 40 percent more than a traditional HVAC system – depending on the size of your property, soil conditions, the amount of excavation required and other factors. Some systems require ductwork modifications.
But while installation costs can be high, homeowners can usually recoup their investment within three to 10 years, or even faster with the help of energy tax credits.
What are the benefits?
There are several benefits to geothermal heating, including:
- Lower operating costs – You’ll save between 30 to 60 percent on your heating bill and 20 to 50 percent of your cooling costs.
- Renewable energy – As we said above, a ground source heat pump requires zero combustion, which means no greenhouse gases.
- Quieter – A geothermal heat pump makes about as much noise as your refrigerator. There are no noisy fans or compressors involved.
- Long-lasting – While most furnaces last about 15 years at most, your indoor geothermal system will last roughly 25 years.
How do I get started?
This isn’t something you can do yourself. Sizing, designing and installing a geothermal heat pump system requires the expertise of an HVAC professional.
If you think a geothermal heating system is right for your home – or you simply want to know more – contact All Seasons Comfort Control.
Our expert technicians can guide you through the best options to keep your home warm this winter, and cool in the summers to come.