When it comes time to either update your heating system or to choose how you want to heat your brand new home, there is certainly no shortage of options. Among these, geothermal heating is a possibility that is easily overlooked simply because you may not have a clear understanding of what geothermal heating is, how it works, or how it could fit into your home. Today we’re going to clear up some of the mystery surrounding geothermal heating by giving you a basic introduction to the technology of geothermal heating systems. Hopefully, this will give you all the tools needed to make an informed decision when selecting your heating system.
What is Geothermal Heating?
Geothermal heating takes advantage of the massive amount of heat energy stored just under the surface of the earth. Once you go down even a short distance into the ground, the temperature no longer fluctuates the way it does above on the surface. Instead, the temperature is consistently warm. Geothermal heating systems harness this energy and the insulating properties of the earth in order to heat and even cool your home. In some places, you don’t even have to dig further than twenty feet deep in order to take advantage of this natural resource.
A heat pump forms the backbone of a geothermal system. During the warm summer months, hot air from your home can transfer its heat to the underground system of pipes of your geothermal system. The heat then disperses into the earth, returning cooler air to you in one smooth process. By the same token, heat can be absorbed from the earth and then used to warm the air that is returned to your home in the winter. This simple heat-exchange model takes advantage of the natural properties of the earth rather than relying solely on an external fuel source.
The heat that is exchanged in a geothermal system is moved through liquid that runs through a series of pipes placed under your property. This is referred to as your “ground loop”, and they come in several styles. The pipes may be run horizontally or vertically, may be placed under soil, or underwater, or even in a water source in special situations. The pipes may be placed straight, or may be coiled to make the maximal use of your available space.
So now that you know what geothermal heating systems are and how they operate, it’s time to learn why this type of system might be a good fit for you. Ultimately, there is one extremely compelling reason for considering geothermal heating: energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency through a geothermal heating system means fiscal savings passed onto the consumer over the life of the home. It is important to consider the long-term, rather than the short-term costs of ownership when contemplating geothermal energy. A geothermal system, primarily due to the installation of your ground loop, will often have a higher cost outlay than a traditional heating system when first installed.
The key factor to consider, however, is how much less it will cost you to heat your home over the next 5, 10, or 20 years. The efficiency of the individual geothermal system you choose can also play into this, so be sure to discuss efficiency and cost of operating with your dealer. Compare the typical operating cost to what you might expect to pay with a more conventional option. It may quickly become apparent that, when stretched over multiple years, the geothermal system will actually be more cost effective.
Geothermal heating is also much friendlier to the environment. Geothermal heating is a technology that requires no changes in your lifestyle or comfort, but which can also contribute greatly to the long-term health of the planet. The technology is long lasting, consumes no fossil fuels, and is incredibly energy efficient, making it the option of choice for those concerned about the environment.
Finding the Geothermal Heating System That is Right for You
There are a variety of concerns to take into account when selecting the right geothermal system for your home which may include:
- What type of heat pump will work best in your home
- What size of unit you need
- How efficient of a unit you want
- What style of ground loop needs to be installed
- Where to best install that ground loop
- Whether any hybrid or combination systems or more advanced features are suitable for your home
In many cases, the most important concern is what type of ground loop you are going to require and where and how it needs to be installed. Geothermal heating is not a one-size-fits all solution like traditional furnaces. Instead, each home and, more specifically, the land under that home, needs to be assessed beforehand. This allows installers to come up with a plan based on the specifics of your property to install the most practical and efficient geothermal system possible.
Getting A Consultation
If this article has piqued your interest in geothermal heating, get a consultation in order to see how geothermal couldwork for you. If you have an out of date, inefficient heating system, geothermal could allow you to more efficiently heat your home at a lower cost and environmental impact. If you’re building a new home, you have the advantage of having no ground obstacles to work around by assessing your geothermal suitability and getting started on your ground loop installation early in the construction process. If you’re interested in learning more about how geothermal heat could be installed in your home, reach out to the geothermal team at R. Brooks HVAC today.