Geothermal heat pumps use the earth as a heat source in the winter and as a heat storage source in the summer. Ground and water temperatures, a few feet below the earth's surface, stay relatively constant throughout the year. This allows for extremely efficient heating and cooling all year long in virtually any climate.
These systems consume 20-50% less energy than conventional heating or cooling systems, making them one of the most economical sources of home heating and cooling available in the market.
So, how does it work?
- Water or refrigerant moves through a loop of pipes located underground, called a ground loop.
- When the weather is cold, the water or refrigerant heats up as it travels through the part of the loop that is buried underground.
- Once it gets back above the ground, the warmed water or refrigerant transfers heat into the building via indoor heat pump, and is dispersed through the home through duct work.
- The water or refrigerant cools down after it's heat is transferred. It is pumped back underground where it is heated up once more, starting the process again.
- On a hot day, the system can run in reverse. The water or refrigerant cools the building and is then pumped underground where extra heat is transferred to the ground around the pipes.
Since geothermal systems are mostly underground, there is little landscape footprint. These systems have the smallest carbon footprint of any heating or cooling source. Installing geo (in a typical home) is the equivalent of planting one acre of trees or removing two cars from the road, in terms of emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) has called geothermal the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean and cost-effective space conditioning systems available.
Cost and Savings
The initial cost of installing a geothermal heat pump system can be two to three times that of a conventional heating system in most residential applications, new construction or existing. In retrofits, the cost of installation is affected by the size of living area, home's age, insulation characteristics, the geology of the area and location of the home/property.
For new construction, proper duct system design and mechanical air exchange should be considered an initial system cost. These systems can save the average family from $400-1400/year, reducing the average heating and cooling costs by 30-70% per installed system.
The investment tax credit (ITC) offers the ability to deduct a percentage of the cost of installing a geothermal system from your Federal taxes. See table below:
If you are considering geothermal for your home or property or have questions, please feel free to call us. Solaire Home Comfort is one of the leading geothermal installers in northeast and central PA.