Many of us are looking at ways to “get off the grid” and save some money while doing our part to save the planet. Geothermal energy is one of these options that use the earth’s natural energy to heat and cool our homes. But it can be an expensive installation. Although the return on your investment over time will show a reduction on your monthly heating by 30 to 70% and cooling bills by 20 to 50%; deciding on tackling the investment in time, money and construction can be a daunting task. So how does it work?
How Geothermal Energy Works
As the sun’s heat reaches the surface of the earth, approximately 47% of that heat will be absorbed by the earth’s surface. Although the air temperature above ground tends to fluctuate from season to season, below the surface, the earth tends to have a steady and moderate temperature. This is between 4 to 6 feet below the surface or ground.
Heating Your Home
During the fall and winter when you are looking to have a nice and warm home, the geothermal heat pump uses a buried system of tubing that circulates a water type solution to pull heat from the under the surface of the earth and have it dispersed through normal ducts and vents throughout your home.
Cooling Your Home
For cooling your home during those hot and possibly humid spring and summer months, the geothermal system does the exact opposite. It pulls the heat from inside your home into the ground tubing system or into your water tank to preheat the water for showers.
In each case, controlling the system will be just like you do now; through a thermostat or thermostats throughout your home. You can still have optional equipment such as an air purifier or humidifier for your HVAC equipment.
How to Install A Geothermal System in Your Home
Not all HVAC companies can install a geothermal system at your home. It is always recommended, especially for a large project such as this, to get several HVAC quotes from licensed, bonded and insured companies. Talk to them about the installation experience with geothermal, what the excavation process is and if they set this up, pull permits if needed and are on site to monitor the digging.
Ask what impact this has on your home? Is there downtime while installing this new system and how long is the process of converting from quote acceptance to completion? Because this can be an expensive installation, ask if there is financing available. Some HVAC companies do offer financing for these larger projects and also check with your bank to see if what they can offer as well.
Remember to talk to the HVAC company installing the geothermal system about state and federal tax credits if there are any available. Make sure you find out if you have to send in any paperwork for tax credits or the contractor will do that for you.
Geothermal heating and cooling systems are known to be the most eco-friendly, energy efficient and economical systems to have, use and operate in the comfort industry today.
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By Steph McGuinn
Carolyn Dobson is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about sustainability. In her spare she enjoys running, reading, and biking.