Often, when considering new and greener technologies, it can be easy for the average homeowner to shrug them off, thinking that they are too costly, too unreliable, or otherwise inaccessible. However, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to geothermal heating technology. The benefits geothermal heating systems offer are significant, and homeowners throughout Maryland and the Greater DC area can now take advantage of all that geothermal heating systems offer. These types of systems can allow you to save money on your monthly heating bills, provide you with an extremely reliable heat source for your home, all while helping to contribute to a greener planet by changing to an environmentally friendly method for heating the home.
How Does Geothermal Heating Technology Work?
This is often the first question people have, because very few of us grew up in homes that ran on geothermal heat. The basic principle is simple: geothermal heating systems rely on a heat pump – very similar to what you see used in many other climate control systems. Refrigerant is used to hold heat, but instead of being dispelled into the atmosphere, that heat is stored – allowing you to utilize it later to heat your home in the winter, or to pull unwanted heat out of your home in the summer.
Long loops are installed deep under your property where the refrigerant can circulate. This is the key to geothermal heat, because once you go deep enough, temperature doesn’t fluctuate like it does above ground. This means that storing that heat is incredibly cost and energy efficient. Once it gets deep enough, it is incredibly easy to store until you need to utilize it again.
The Cost Efficiency of Geothermal Heating Systems
As with many other energy efficient technologies, the initial cost of investing in a geothermal system can give people pause. While the cost of installation can stretch beyond that of other systems, it is the overall cost throughout the lifetime of the system that makes geothermal an incredibly sound investment.
When people make the switch to solar energy, they are often told to expect a wait as long as 15-20 years before the system has paid for itself. Now, if you plan on staying in a home long enough you can still expect to feel the benefits of that net gain, but it is a long time to wait nonetheless. Geothermal heat, on the other hand, pays dividends much faster, with some systems paying for themselves in energy savings in as few as 5 years.
For many people, the chief factor in deciding what type of heat is best for their home is based on the environmental impact it will have. With most types of traditional heat, you have by-products as a result from the combustion. Even with the cleanest burning technologies, there are emissions being expelled into the environment any time you consume a fossil fuel.
A huge amount of the combustion of fossil fuels is created by home heating needs. According to the Department of Energy, 40% of the natural gas burnt each year is used to heat buildings. The shift to geothermal heat could be a major player in reducing the net consumption of fossil fuels in the country.
Geothermal heat is different than other heat sources. Largely, the technology relies upon the heat that is stored in the ground itself, something that is completely renewable. Only 30% of the energy required to operate a geothermal system comes from external sources. Couple this with cleaner electricity generation methods, and you have the option of one of the most environmentally friendly heating options currently on the market. You can capitalize even further on the efficiency of the technology by ensuring that your home is well insulated and sealed, preventing unwanted heat transfer with the environment.
In addition, noise pollution has become a major problem in most cities in the country. Noisy external air conditioners and loud furnaces in the house are something that most people just take as a matter of course these days. Geothermal units are among the quietest temperature control technologies available on the market for in-home use, and there is no external unit to contribute to the noise pollution in your neighborhood.
Prevalence of the Technology
According to the Department of Energy, there are more than 50,000 homes that make the switch to geothermal each year. This type of heating has also been in use for nearly 70 years now. This means several good things for consumers.
Firstly, it means that you have choice. When demand for a technology grows to the size that geothermal heating has achieved, it creates a thicker supply-side of the market, allowing consumers to shop among more plentiful options to find the best provider to meet their needs. It also means that there is support in place for your system. Should anything ever go wrong, these units can be easily serviced like other types of heating systems.
It should also be mentioned that even though service is readily available, it typically is not needed for an extended period of time after installation. Geothermal systems are reliable, with the typical system lasting more than 25 years after installation if maintained properly. In addition, the pipes that are placed underground in order to transfer the heat, often last twice as long, lessening the need to start from scratch if a system upgrade is needed later on.
If you are interested in making the move to a geothermal heating system for your home, then you should consider the tax credits available if you opt for an Energy Star certified system. In order to qualify for a tax credit, it is important to ensure that the system purchased meets the thresholds for efficiency as laid out by the program.
Systems are rated on two key performance metrics in order to evaluate their efficiency. These are the Coefficient of Performance, and the Energy Efficient Ratio (COP and EER). Visit the Energy Star website to read the current thresholds that your unit must meet in order to qualify for these credits.
Is Geothermal Heating Technology Going to Work on Your Property?
The main requirement that needs to be met in order for geothermal heat to be installed at your home is a suitable location to install the earth loops. Some people believe that they need a large property in order to install ground loops, but not all loops are installed horizontally. Some are installed in a directly vertical fashion, meaning that even owners of very small properties can sometimes have an ideal site for geothermal installation.
Making the Switch to Geothermal
It is important to take the environment surrounding your home into consideration if a geothermal heat system is to be installed,, as t requires an expert eye to determine the optimal method and type of installation. Contact the HVAC professionals at Presidential Heating and Air to receive a free consultation regarding the suitability of geothermal heating technology for your home. A member of our team will help you evaluate exactly how a geothermal system could reduce your particular heating costs over the long term, while also helping you to live in a greener home. They’ll advise you on the particulars of your home’s compatibility with geothermal, and provide an installation plan for the most efficient and cost effective system available today.