The HVAC system is an essential component of any home’s comfort, health and safety. Choosing a home heating and cooling system that meets those basic needs while also keeping budget and energy use in check is important to most homeowners. With that in mind, here is a look at one system that does just that: geothermal. Check out the benefits…
1. High efficiency and lower energy costs
Geothermal energy systems work by moving heat, which is more efficient and less costly than generating heat. Geothermal equipment operates at 300 to 500 percent efficiency. That means for every unit of electricity the heat pump uses, it moves three to five units of heat. Compared to even the most efficient furnaces and air conditioners, geothermal energy saves 30 to 60 percent on heating and 25 to 50 percent on cooling.
2. Renewable/low environmental impact
Because it is practically emission-free, geothermal energy is the greenest power source currently available. While it does require electricity, pairing a geothermal system with solar panels can lower the already low environmental impact. Rather than using fossil fuels that are not renewable, release greenhouse gases and cause pollution, geothermal heat pumps extract only heat from the earth where the temperature stays consistent throughout the year.
The heat comes from below ground, so it is not affected by weather. Electricity shortages can occur with wind and solar when conditions aren’t optimal (no wind or sun), but the heat generated by the Earth never runs out.
4. Reliable/low maintenance
Few moving parts means a geothermal system is very reliable and requires little maintenance. Chances of a breakdown are minimal.
The main component of the system is below ground. There is no fan or compressor to generate noise.
6. Longer lifespan than traditional HVAC
Geothermal heat pumps last about 24 years, or even as long as 50 years if properly maintained, compared to traditional HVAC with a lifespan of 13 to 15 years.
Without any sort of combustion of fossil fuels, geothermal systems have no risk of explosion, carbon monoxide poisoning, toxic fumes or gas leaks — only clean, renewable energy.
8. Appropriate for any size home
Geothermal energy works for any size home, and even for large commercial buildings. The key is to accurately size the equipment for the home and your particular needs.
Disadvantages of geothermal energy
Despite the many benefits of geothermal, there are a few additional things to keep in mind:
- Higher initial cost – Installation of a geothermal heat pump is extensive and more costly than installing a traditional HVAC system, although it can pay for itself in five to ten years.
- More costly to retrofit – Geothermal is well-suited to new construction because it involves large scale-excavation, which may be difficult with an existing home.
- Repairs to underground components can be costly. While unlikely, damage can occur to the buried loops from tree roots, shifting soil and even rodents and accessing them for repair can be quite costly.
- Fewer knowledgeable installers – geothermal installers are not as widely available as other HVAC technicians.