Geothermal heating and cooling technologies are relatively new for residential applications, but are being seen more often now than in previous years. Learn more about this amazing source of natural, renewable energy from the Earth!
Geothermal heat pumps or GHP's are yet another avenue for homeowners to save money while efficiently heating and cooling their home. These heat pumps utilize the natural heat contained in the earth to heat or cool the air in your home and can serve a dual purpose by heating your water as well.
Think of a geothermal system as a vehicle for transforming the earth's internal heat into comfortable temperatures during the winter and the summer inside your home.
The earth's temperature is relatively constant, so what the GHP does is "pump" fluid from below the ground, bring it through a looping system that has been buried underground outside your home, and into the heat pump so it can heat or cool your house.
The loop system is buried under the ground outside your home, so once it is installed; you never see that part of it again.
Essentially, a geothermal heat pump consists of these underground loops, a flow center so the heat pump can be connected to the loops, and the heap pump itself, which is located inside the house.
The air is then distributed throughout the house via the ductwork that is normally used to heat and cool the home.
One of the real benefits of using geothermal power to heat or cool your home is that it is extremely efficient. You can re-use heated air that may otherwise be wasted to heat your water! This comes at no extra cost once your geothermal system is installed.
This is accomplished through through the use of a desuperheater, a device that is part of the geothermal heat pump. There are other devices that help save energy in a geothermal system as well, like blowers that move air through the home more efficiently and multiple speed compressors.
As with any technology, this type of renewable energy source has a few limitations too.
As mentioned above, the initial set up cost for a geothermal heating and cooling system can be costly. However, if you are currently looking to build a new home or your existing heating and cooling systems desperately need replaced, a geothermal heat pump might be just the right choice for you.
Even when you look at the cost of installing this type of heating and cooling technology, you must look at the long-term benefits of producing your own power for your home.
Let's break down the costs:
If you have a larger home that would require a 3-ton geothermal heat pump, you may be looking at another $3,500 to $11,500 for equipment and installation.
You could see a return on your investment as early as 2 years after you install the GHP, or it could be as long as 10 years before you see a return. If you're planning to live in your home for several years, this may not be as much of an issue for you.
Currently, there are at least 71 countries worldwide that utilize geothermal systems for residential use. In the United States alone, roughly 50,000 of these are installed each year. As you can see, more and more people are taking full advantage of yet another renewable energy source in an effort to save money in the long run and protect the environment at the same time.
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