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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Heat Pumps?

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Sep, 02, 2015 @ 12:09 PM

Here’s what a leading building science expert and licensed Architect, Doug Rye, who’s been involved withFREE_Energy the installation of over 62,000 geo systems will tell you.

"All the energy you'll ever need to heat and cool(and most of your hot water) for your house Is about 5 or 6 feet below in the ground; and it's unlimited"

He says: Geothermal heat pumps and geothermal energy heating systems are by far the most efficient energy source available today. Geothermal heat pumps use solar energy stored in the upper layer of the earths surface. The earth absorbs almost 50% of the solar energy that reaches its surface. That’s a lot of FREE energy!

Tapping into this FREE source of energy enables a geothermal heat pump to operate at an amazing 400% efficiency. This geothermal energy benefit means that you pay for 1 unit of electricity and get 3 units for FREE! Put it this way. Would you be happy if you paid for 10 gallons of gas and you received 30 gallons? Unless you work for the oil company, it’s a no-brainer.

Here are 7 reasons why you should have plans for geothermal heating and cooling in your home. 

  1. Energy Savings: Geothermal systems use a small amount of electricity to transfer heat to and from the ground to your home. In fact, it can produce three to four units of energy for every unit of electricity used to power the system. Even the best conventional system delivers less than one unit of energy for each unit it consumes. Homeowners typically experience an annual savings of 30 to 70% when compared to ordinary systems. 
  2. Quiet Operation: Geothermal systems use the same principles that operate a refrigerator or freezer, and the units are just as quiet. There is no unsightly outdoor unit to disturb you or your neighbors. 
  3. Enhanced Comfort: Provides precise distribution of comfortable air all year long, eliminating hot spots and cold spots. During heating, you’ll experience warm air without the hot blasts associated with ordinary gas furnaces. And compared to an air-source heat pump, the air is warmer. When cooling, a geothermal unit delivers cool, dehumidified air. Thermostats: don’t need to be adjusted. You just set it, and forget it. 
  4. Clean and Safe: Geothermal units do not use fossil fuels such as propane and natural gas. Threats caused by combustion are eliminated. No worries about flames, fumes, odors, or carbon monoxide. You can go all electric and eliminate the potential of feeling sick all the time in winter. 
  5. System Lifespan: Ordinary systems often require expensive regular maintenance for each unit – the furnace, the air conditioner, and the water heater. When properly installed, a geothermal system requires little or no maintenance beyond periodic checks and filter changes. Geothermal systems typically last more than 20 years if properly maintained. It is unrivaled for economy — comparable to traditional systems in first-installed-costs and vastly superior over the long term — with energy cost savings of 25% to 50% annually.
  6. Positive Cash Flow: Geothermal systems will produce significantly cheaper utility bills and annual maintenance costs. The initial cost of a geothermal system can be tied into your mortgage or other form of low interest financing option. The savings on your utilities easily cover the increase in your loan payment giving you the extra cash flow. A system will usually pay for itself within a two to five year time span.
  7. Free Hot Water: As a bonus, a geothermal unit can provide some or all of your hot water at higher efficiencies, offering additional energy savings. Using a simple connection to your water heater, the geothermal unit will deliver hot water to the tank during the heating and cooling modes. In fact, the heat removed from your home during cooling is deposited into your water heater providing you with virtually free hot water.

Is a geothermal heat pump for everyone and every situation?  The answer is no. Here are the 3 main disadvantages: 

  1. Cost Prohibitive: a disadvantage of a geothermal heat pump used to heat and cool your home can sometimes be cost prohibitive also.  It is very important to note that most of the added expense of a geothermal heat pump is in drilling the holes for the vertical loops or digging the trenches for a horizontal loop.  The system inside your house is essentially the same as a conventional heating and air system.
  2. Not Enough Space: You may not have enough space for the loops.
  3. Finding a reputable installer in your area.  They are not for those who don't have experience.

At SimsHeating And Cooling, we are always working to educate homeowners in the Battle Creek area about heating, cooling, comfort and safety in your home.


Topics: Best Value, Heat Pumps, Geothermal

What is A Geothermal Heat Pump?

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Aug, 28, 2015 @ 14:08 PM

While we've on the subject of heat pumps, I thought I'd cover Geothermal. But let's first review what a heat pump is; this may help you better understand why they call it a heat pump:Geothermal2.pptx

As Kevin Rafferty of HeatSpring Learning Institute says:

"Heat naturally flows "downhill", from higher to lower temperatures. A heat pump is a machine which causes the heat to flow in a direction opposite to its natural tendency, or "uphill" in terms of temperature. Because work must be done (energy consumed) to accomplish this, the name heat "pump" is used to describe the device. 

In heat pump terminology, the difference between the temperature where the heat is absorbed (the "source") and the temperature where the heat is delivered (the "sink") is called the "lift." The larger the lift, the greater the power input required by the heat pump.. 

Compare that to your typical furnace which burns a fuel in a combustion chamber and then heats the air your blower moves around your home through the duct systems. Heat pumps use electricity to pump fluid which has been heated.

We wanted to discuss geothermal as a type of heat pump. Geothermal comes from "Geo" meaning earth and "thermal" meaning heat. Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) have been around for a while and are a growing option for residential heating/cooling. As the cost of fuel goes up, they become a viable and attractive alternative for home owners in the right situation. Although somewhat higher in first cost, this technology can, in the right application, quickly repay this cost premium through savings in energy costs. 

Geothermal heating and cooling uses naturally consistent underground temperatures. You see earth absorbs almost 50% of all solar energy and remains a nearly constant temperature of 50°F to 70°F depending on geographic location. 

The Geothermal Process - Pulling FREE Energy from the earth!

The geothermal process is based on a simple premise: Below the frost line - usually about four feet deep – the earth is a constant temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. 
During the winter, the heat pump absorbs heat from the ground and uses it to warm the air in your home. In the warmer summer months, the processed is reversed, taking heat from your home and transferring it back into the ground.

The basic elements of a geothermal system include:

  • Underground loops of plastic piping; (Open Or Closed Loop)
  • A liquid antifreeze solution;
  • A heat pump; and
  • An air distribution system.

The loops of piping are buried in the ground near your home, either vertically or horizontally. That ground loop is connected to a pumping module inside your home. 
The pump circulates a mixture of water and the antifreeze through the ground loop, where it absorbs heat from the earth.
When the heated liquid reaches the heat pump inside your home, the heat is multiplied and used to warm the air inside the air-handling system. A blower sends the warmed air throughout your home through ductwork.

In winter, water circulating inside a sealed loop absorbs heat from the earth and carries it to the geothermal unit. Here it is compressed to a higher temperature and sent as warm air to your indoor heating system for distribution throughout your home.
In the summer, the system reverses the process and expels heat from your home to the cooler earth through the loop system. This heat exchange process is not only natural, but it is a truly ingenious and highly efficient way to create a comfortable climate in your home.

The drawback to geothermal is the upfront investment for installation and whether it's a good fit for your home. It is considered a renewable technology. Homeowners in rural areas where propane gas is the only choice would find a geo thermal heat pump as an interesting option. 

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Topics: HVAC Systems, Heat Pumps, Geothermal

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