GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS:
THE MAJOR BENEFITS
HOW EFFICIENT IS A GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMP?
Geothermal heat pumps are 3.5 - 5 times as efficient as the most efficient fossil fuel furnace. Instead of burning a combustible fuel to make heat, they simply move heat that already exists. By doing so, they provide 3.5 - 5 units of energy for every unit used to power the heat-pump system.
WHAT DOES A SYSTEM LIKE THIS COST?
A system for the typical home will cost more than if you bought a separate forced-air furnace and central air conditioning system. But you wouldn't be comparing "apples to apples." To get an accurate comparison of costs, you need to consider the following:
- Payback, or how long it takes to recover the difference in costs between the two systems using energy savings. Payback for most geothermal heat pump systems runs three to five years.
- Energy efficiency of the two systems. To get an accurate picture, make sure efficiency claims are substantiated. Your lifestyle and how well your home is insulated affect how economical a system will be.
- Total operating savings from heating, cooling and domestic hot water must be combined to get an accurate picture of total energy savings.
- Energy costs and availability, both present and future.
- Maintenance costs and system reliability.
- System lifespan.
- ClimateMaster GeoDesigner software can calculate annual operating costs for geothermal systems and compare to other technologies.
WHAT ABOUT COMFORT?
In winter, a geothermal heat pump system moves warm air (90º - 105ºF) throughout your home via a standard duct network. Typically, a very even comfort level is found throughout the hoe. This is because the warm air is moved in slightly higher volumes and, therefore, saturates the home with warmth more evenly. This even helps out hot or cold spots and eliminates the hot air blasts common with fossil fuel furnaces.
In summer, cool, dehumidified air is dispersed through the same duct network.
It's also a great comfort to know that you've reduced your energy consumption while using an inexhaustible energy sour - the earth.
CAN I GET A TAX CREDIT FOR INSTALLING THIS SYSTEM?
On Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1, was signed and became law. The bill further expanded the incentive for geothermal heat pumps. The limit was increased to a tax credit of 30% of the total investment for all ground loop or ground water geothermal heat pump installations.
WHICH SYSTEM IS BEST- OPEN OR CLOSED-LOOP?
The net results in operating cost and efficiency are virtually the same. Which system to choose depends mainly on whether you have an adequate groundwater supply and means of disposal. If you do, an open-loop can be used very effectively. If not, either a horizontal or vertical closed-loop system is your best choice.
Over a period of years, a closed-loop system will require less maintenance because it's sealed and pressurized, eliminating the possible build-up of minerals or iron deposits.