Geothermal Heating & Cooling
Growing interest in improving home energy efficiency has put geothermal heat pumps in the spotlight. Also known as "ground-source" heat pumps, this type of system provides a home with heat, air conditioning (cooling) and "in some cases" even hot water. And a ground-source heat pump can accomplish these tasks more efficiently and thus less expensively than most other HVAC options. Contact Dr. Energy Saver today to have geothermal systems installed in your homes, offices, condominiums or commercial buildings and start cutting your heating and cooling costs by 30% - 40%.
How geothermal systems work. A ground-source heat pump works just like an air-source heat pump, using electricity to pump a refrigerant through compression and expansion cycles and thus "pump" heat from one location to another. The main difference is that a ground-source heat pump relies on the consistent temperature of the earth (6ft. or more below the ground level) rather than the ambient air temperature as its heat source and heat sink. Six feet or more below ground level, the earth's temperature will be between 45 and 75 degrees, whether it's summer or winter, whether you're in Florida or Minnesota. An air-source heat pump becomes inefficient at supplying heat when outside temperatures drop below freezing. This never happens with a ground-source heat pump, which can work at very high efficiency all year long.
Weighing the pros and cons of geothermal heat pumps. Energy efficiency is the primary advantage of a geothermal heat pump. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a geothermal heat pump can reduce energy consumption up to 44% compared to air-source heat pumps and up to 72% compared to an HVAC system that combines electric resistance heat with standard central air-conditioning. If you invest in a geothermal heat pump system, you can expect reliable long-term performance. There are very few moving parts in this type of HVAC system, and they're all located inside the house where they're protected and easily accessible.
The two main "cons" with geothermal heat pumps are cost and installation requirements. Long runs of plastic tubing are required to transfer heat to and from the earth in a geothermal system. In a horizontal installation, the tubing is buried in trenches, as shown in the drawing. Alternatively, it can extend vertically into deep holes bored in the ground. It can also extend along the bottom of a pond or lake. All of these options are expensive, and a horizontal installation requires a certain amount of land. The type of tubing installation is best determined by an experienced geothermal heat pump contractor after a site visit. In any case, excavation (or drilling) can cost anywhere from $10,000-$30,000, and the geothermal heat pump itself will be about twice as expensive as an air-source heat pump in the $4,000 range for an average house.
Bottom line: An excellent option, but not always the best option. There's no doubt that a geothermal heating system offers performance that few other HVAC systems can match in terms of efficiency. However, its high cost and special installation requirements mean that it's not the most economical choice for many homeowners. Dr. Energy Saver can test and evaluate your existing HVAC system, along with numerous other features that affect home energy performance. By providing you with a prioritized selection of energy upgrades and completing the improvements you select, we'll make sure that your investment in energy savings suits your needs.
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