Geothermal heating and air conditioning pumps rely on the earth as their source of heat rather than the air that traditional heat pumps use. Even on the coldest winter night, geothermal heat pumps are more than fifty percent efficient compared to air-sourced systems because even in the most frigid climates, the temperature below the earth’s surface rarely drops below 45 degrees.
Similar to a cave, the ground temperature below is warmer than the air above during the winter and cooler than the air in the summer. Because no energy conversion is needed, it gives them a very high efficiency rating.
They are able to heat, cool, and if equipped, provide hot water for your home or commercial property. In the summer, the system does the reverse by removing the heat from the building and placing it into an underground sink.
Is the Cost Worth It?
The additional cost of a geothermal heating and air conditioning system compared to an air-sourced system is more than justified as the cost can be recovered within 5 – 10 years with the energy savings.
Geothermal heating and cooling systems have a life span of 25 years for the inside components and 50 years for the ground loop. Traditional heat pumps have a life span of 15 to 20 years.
Geothermal systems are quieter, last longer, and need little maintenance, and do not depend on the temperature of the outside air. Some models of geothermal heating and cooling systems have 2-speed compressors and variable fans for even more comfort and savings.
Ground Loop Systems
There are 4 basic ground loop systems. Horizontal, vertical, and pond/lake are closed-loop systems, and the 4th is an open-loop system. Climate, soil conditions, local environmental regulations, and available land are all factors in determining which system will be best. All of these systems can be used for residential or commercial properties.
The horizontal closed-loop system is generally the most cost-effective for residential installations if sufficient land is available. Trenches need to be at least 4 to 6 feet deep. Newer installation methods compared to conventional methods has made this option available to more areas, and has brought installation costs down.
The pond/lake ground loop system, if an adequate body of water is nearby, may be the lowest cost option. A supply line pipe is run underground from the building to the water and coiled at least eight feet deep to prevent freezing. The water source needs to meet minimum requirements for volume, depth, and quality.
To help defray the cost of your geothermal heating and air conditioning system, there are Tax Credits and Rebates available on local, state, and federal levels-be sure to check for deadlines and conditions in order to qualify.