Geothermal Heating And Cooling
Why a Geothermal System
Is the Best Thing You Can
Do for Your Home
SAVE 30% WITH A TAX CREDIT
We’ll Guide You Through It.
In less than five minutes, you can be a geothermal expert. Read on!
Looking for a geothermal HVAC contractor?
Use our “Geothermal Contractor Questionnaire” to make sure you are choosing the right installer for the job. Download it here.
What Is Geothermal Heating And Cooling?
The idea behind geothermal energy is simple. The earth stores a vast reservoir of thermal energy (which is constantly re-supplied by the sun) typically 10 times that required over an entire heating season. A geothermal system transfers heat from the earth to the home in the winter and from the home back to the earth in the summer. The earth stays at a more constant temperature than widely varying air temperatures. Because heat energy is being moved, and not created, geothermal systems operate at higher efficiencies than ordinary heating and cooling systems.
Geothermal technology has many environmental advantages. It can curb acid rain, global warming and ozone depletion by using natural energy removed from the earth instead of energy that must be artificially produced, generated and transported. Geothermal systems do not contain any chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the loop solution (which are suspected to be a major cause of ozone depletion), use far less refrigerant in the unit than ordinary heat pumps or air conditioners, and are factory sealed to prevent leaks.
How Heating Works
During the heating cycle, a geothermal system uses the earth loop to extract heat from the ground. As the system pulls heat from the loop it distributes it through a conventional duct system as warm air. The same heat energy can also be used for a radiant floor system or domestic hot water heating.
How Cooling Works
In the cooling mode, a geothermal system air conditions your home by reversing the heating process. Instead of extracting heat from the ground, it is extracted from your home and either moved back into the earth loop, or used to preheat the water in your hot water tank. Once the heat is removed from the air, it’s distributed through the duct system in your home.
Where Does Geothermal Get Its Energy?
From four basic energy sources. Closed-loop systems circulate a water-based solution through a “loop” of small-diameter, underground pipes. Closed-loop systems can be installed horizontally, vertically or in a pond. Open-loop systems use an existing water well. Regardless of whether the system is open or closed, heat is transferred to or from the home to provide year-round comfort, no matter what the outdoor temperature is.
Other Names for Geothermal
Geothermal energy has been used to heat and air condition buildings for several decades. During that time, these geothermal systems have been called geoexchange, ground-water, ground-water assisted, ground-water-source, water-to-water, and water furnace heating and cooling.
Keeping You Happy
Surveys of geothermal users conducted by the Department of Energy and utility companies nationwide indicate a higher level of consumer satisfaction for geothermal heat pumps than for ordinary systems and report that:
- 99% would recommend the system to family and friends.
- 95% said overall operation met or exceeded their expectations.
- 94% said they would buy a geothermal system again.
Top reasons consumers select geothermal systems
- Cost effective—Savings on monthly bills of 30-70% in heating mode and 20-50% in the cooling mode.
- Comfortable—Constant, even comfort with no hot or cold spots.
- Safe and clean—No flame, no flue, no odors; just safe, reliable operation year after year.
- Quiet—No noisy outdoor compressor.
- Versatile—Compatible with nearly any home or business, regardless of terrain or weather conditions. Environmentally friendly-emits no CO2, a major contributor to indoor and outdoor air pollution.
- The elimination of outdoor or rooftop units means the system is not exposed to temperature extremes, dirt, pollution or vandalism.
- Geothermal systems have a lower life-cycle cost than ordinary systems, even in hot, humid regions where the demand for air conditioning is high. Geothermal systems have long equipment life (20 years and more).
Geothermal heating and cooling systems are at least three times more efficient than fossil fuel systems. In energy consumption, geothermal systems use on average:
- 75% less primary energy than oil
- 48% less primary energy than natural gas
- 33% less primary energy than air-source heat pumps
- 33% of the refrigerant required by air-source heat pumps and central air conditioners
Today, more than 650,000 geothermal heat pumps are installed in the United States, resulting in an annual savings of 5.2 billion kWh, 26 trillion BTUs of fossil fuels and reduced electricity demand of 1.7 million kW. These systems are the equivalent of:
- Taking 840,000 cars off the road
- Planting 250 million trees
- The elimination of nearly four million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere
- Saving 14 million barrels a year of crude oil
Saving the Earth
According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, geothermal heat pumps are the most cost-effective, energy-efficient and environmentally clean heating and cooling system available in the United States.
Geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption and corresponding emissions by more than 40% compared to air source heat pumps and by more than 70% compared to electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment. Combining geothermal with other energy efficient measures, such as window or insulation upgrades, can increase the savings even further.
- Replacing an HVAC system with a geothermal system will reduce the amount of pollution equivalent to not driving your car 140,000 miles.
- Replacing an ordinary HVAC system with a geothermal system is the equivalent of planting 750 trees, or three-quarters of an acre of rain forest.
- The average house contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than the average car.
- The U.S. General Accounting Office estimates that if geothermal heat pumps were installed nationwide, they could save several billion dollars annually in energy costs and substantially reduce pollution.
- HUD and USDA have joined forces to support geothermal technology. Section 3013 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 defines a goal to “… encourage states, municipalities, counties and townships to consider allowing the installation of geothermal heat pumps…”
Currently, nine percent of the United States’ total energy consumption is for residential heating and cooling. Many utility companies are counting on geothermal heat pumps to reduce peak electric demand and lessen environmental pressures stemming from ordinary heating and cooling systems. Use of geothermal systems also helps eliminate power peaks that cause brownouts. By flattening out power peaks, electric companies will need to build fewer power plants, thereby decreasing air pollution.