What To Consider Before Installing Geothermal Heating And Cooling Systems
There is plenty of energy beneath our feet, and we are not just talking about fossil fuel deposits. The earth’s thermal mass traps and stores heat radiating outward from the planet’s core and energy from the sun.
The earth does this job so well that the earth’s temperature, some seven to ten feet below surface level, is a constant 50 degrees all year-round. It means that even when the temperature above ground is below freezing during winter or as hot as 96 degrees during summer, it is still 50 degrees below ground.
You might have experienced this sensation at your house without even realizing it. For instance, have you ever gone inside your basement on a hot day and found it to be quite cool? That’s because the temperature on the other side of your home’s foundation is at a steady 50 degrees. An unheated basement will stay relatively warm even during winter.
As such, they are tapping into this geothermal energy is an appealing prospect for many Americans living in Salem, Oregon, who are looking to save up to 50% annually on their heating and cooling costs.
This column is a detailed analysis of what geothermal heating is, how the system operates, and the factors to consider before installing a geothermal system.
What Is A Geothermal Heating System And How Does It Work
A geothermal heating and cooling system is an energy and cost-effective system that taps into natural ground temperature to cool homes during summer and warm them during winter.
While furnaces and air conditioners generate cool or hot air on-site for forced-air distribution, geothermal systems transfer already-existing heat from the ground to the home, depending on the cooling or heating needs at the time.
So, how does it work?
Geothermal systems use a geothermal heat pump to transfer the heat. The heat pump has a heat exchanger and a ground loop consisting of pipes buried deep within the ground through refrigerant or water flows. As either fluid flows through the loop, it absorbs ground temperature around 50 degrees and flows back to the heat exchanger.
The heat exchanger can transfer in-house temperature into the fluid to raise its temperature or remove heat from the fluid to drop its temperature before sending it back underground to stabilize again. The warmed or cooled air is then circulated through the house.
Overall, geothermal heating is a renewable energy system that does not use fossil fuels or a lot of electric power. In fact, as per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), geothermal energy is a fantastic eco-friendly energy source that is incredibly underutilized.
However, it’s worth pointing out that geothermal heating and cooling systems do not generate electricity, although it’s referred to as geothermal energy. Instead, they tap into the steady ground temperature that is freely available to regulate the temperature within a home.
Let’s walk you through some of the key considerations you should have when installing a geothermal heating and cooling system.
- What Is the Heating and Cooling Efficiency of Geothermal Heat Pumps
When scouting for a viable geothermal heat pump, you should factor in its heating and cooling efficiency.
A pump’s heating efficiency is indicated by the pump’s coefficient of performance(COP). It is the heat ratio provided in Btu per Btu of energy input. On the other hand, the cooling efficiency is indicated by the EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio), which is the ratio of the heat removed to the electricity needed to run the pump.
You will also want to look for the Energy Star label from the EPA and U.S. DOE (Department of Energy) to ensure that the pump meets Energy Star criteria. Companies that manufacture high-efficiency geothermal heat pumps use the energy star label on equipment and product literature.
- Where Do You Intend to Install the Geothermal Heat Pump
Shallow ground temperatures are relatively constant across the U.S. It means that geothermal heat pumps can be used just about anywhere in the country. However, the spatial, hydrological, and geological features of the land your residential or commercial property sits on will determine the best type of ground loop for your needs.
Let’s break it down further.
The size and layout of your land, including your landscaping, will play a big part in your geothermal system design.
For instance, if you are installing the system on an already-existing property, you’ll need to make a vertical installation so you can have minimal impact on the landscape. If you’re installing the system on a new construction project, you can consider horizontal ground loops, which are generally more economical than a vertical installation.
When designing the ground loop, your land’s soil and rock composition will affect heat transfer rates and must be factored in. For instance, sand with extensive hard rock or soil that’s too shallow may require you to install a vertical ground loop.
The volume, quality, and depth of ground and surface water will also determine what ground loop is most suitable for you. By hiring Home Comfort Inc., you can be sure that we will thoroughly investigate your land’s hydrology before installation to avoid possible problems such as groundwater contamination or aquifer depletion.
- Is Installing a Geothermal Heat Pump Economically Feasible?
Although the costs of buying and installing a geothermal heat system might be higher than other HVAC alternatives, geothermal heat pumps provide more energy per unit consumed than conventional systems.
Depending on factors such as your choice of the system and soil and climatic conditions, you can recoup your initial investment in a short time, thanks to low utility bills. It would help if you considered that heat during summer can be removed from the house to heat household water at no extra cost.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, geothermal heating systems are a highly efficient renewable energy technology. Although the pump has been used since the 1940s, it wasn’t until recently that it started to become a common feature in both residential and commercial properties.
Suppose you’re interested in geothermal heat pump installation on your property. In that case, you need a company like Home Comfort Inc. that has the right experience and expertise to make the project a success. This is not a DIY job, and you need someone with specialized tools to handle both installation and maintenance.
Give Home Comfort Inc. a call today at (503) 623 -2341) for more information about geothermal heating systems.