Geothermal systems are the most efficient heating and cooling systems you can buy today. It uses the earth’s stored energy to save you money year-round! Since you’re just moving free heating energy in the winter time, instead of purchasing it in the form of fuel, you can cut your heating costs by one-half to two-thirds!
A geothermal heating and cooling system has two parts that are sized according to the needs of the home: a heat exchange unit installed in the home and an earth loop buried in the ground or immersed in a body of water located near the home.
Typically, the earth loop is a closed loop made of high-density polyethylene, a very durable material, installed vertically, horizontally, or coiled. Professionally installed loops are guaranteed for more than fifty years of trouble-free use. An environmentally friendly water and antifreeze solution is circulated through the loop and transfers heat between the home and ground. A geothermal system uses the inexhaustible free earth energy and provides up to four times more energy than it uses.
The geothermal system changes from heating mode to cooling mode with a flick of a switch on the indoor thermostat. In the cooling mode, the system takes heat from indoors and transfers it to the cooler earth through the underground loop system.
Geothermal systems can also help make hot water for your home, at a savings of up to one-half.
For a list of area contractors with good experience in geothermal system installations, click here.
An air-source heat pump works like any central air conditioner in the summer. If you walk up to the heat pump, it will look exactly like a central air conditioner. And like any air conditioner, it removes heat from the home and releases it outdoors, using the refrigeration system.
In the summer there is no difference in operation from a typical central air conditioner. The difference is in the winter, when the heat pump reverses itself and becomes a heating system.
When you change the room thermostat from cooling to heating, the refrigeration system simply reverses itself and extracts heat from the outdoor air and releases that heat inside the home. In very basic terms, the cooling system is now heating your home.
What makes a heat pump different is its ability to extract heat from the outdoor air, which is why it is technically called an air-source heat pump.
The outdoor compressor section is what does the lion’s share of the heating, as it compresses and transfers (pumps) the heat into the indoor coil. Air is heated as it blows across the coil. The blower fan distributes the heated air throughout your home, like any other forced air heating system.
A heat pump is a combination of the outdoor compressor section, plus the indoor electric furnace and coil. In extreme cold weather, some supplemental heat is needed to maintain the desired room temperature. The indoor thermostat will automatically sense the need for this supplemental heat and activate the electric furnace when needed.
Because it is cheaper to transfer heat from the outdoor air, than it is to produce that heat from burning gas, the heat pump is much cheaper to operate. It is important to remember that the need for supplemental heat doesn’t mean the heat pump loses its efficiency advantage. Yes, the heat pump may need some supplemental heat to maintain the desired room temperature, but even during those times, the heat being produced by the heat pump is very low cost. Even at zero degrees, the heat pump is still operating at over 200% efficiency.
Just like any other heating system, heat pumps are sold in various efficiency levels. The rating to look for is called the SEER number. That stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The lowest efficiency model manufactured today is 13 SEER. At the high end of the range, some units now reach up to 19 SEER or even higher.
For a list of area contractors with experience in heat pump installations, click here.