The aspect of a geothermal heating and cooling system (or more precisely, a ground-sourced heat pump, aka GSHP) that usually gets the most press is its very low operating cost. And why not? At typical system efficiencies of 300 to 500% (versus 95 to 98% for the most efficient fossil-fueled HVAC system), the reduction in energy consumption is greater than 75%! And that doesn’t even include the supplement hot water that a geo system can also provide. Simply, there are a myriad of geothermal energy advantages.
What is often overlooked is how a GSHP system is superior in so many other ways to traditional methods of heating and cooling:
A forced-air system with a GSHP moves heated air at lower temperatures than fossil-fueled systems – 90 to 100oF versus 135 to 150oF. Consequently, it moves higher volumes of air throughout your house and for longer durations which creates more consistent temperatures -fewer hot spots- throughout. In air conditioning mode, again it runs for longer durations, enabling more effective humidity control. (Because a GSHP is so inexpensive to operate, you might even be tempted to actually set your thermostat to the temperature that is most comfortable.)
LOWER MAINTENANCE, LONGER LIFE
A GSHP system has few mechanical components – typically a water pump, a compressor & an expansion valve (similar to your refrigerator), and a fan (in a forced air configuration) – and is not subjected to extreme conditions like the high temperatures of fossil-fueled furnaces and boilers or the outside weather in the case of conventional air conditioning units that can stress a unit to the point of failure. As a result, GSHPs have lower maintenance & repair costs, and an expected life of 25 to 30 years. (The ground loop requires no maintenance and should last 75 years or more.)
SAFE, CLEAN, ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
Because a GSHP uses no combustibles, there is zero risk of fire, explosion, or exposure to toxic gases (e.g. carbon monoxide) that is inherent in fossil-fueled systems. Because most of its energy is renewable solar energy absorbed by the Earth, it is very efficient and produces very little emissions – zero if the electricity to your home is generated from other renewable sources.
A GSHP system can be designed to deliver heat hydronically and/or by forced air. In a forced air configuration, it can, of course, also provide air conditioning. Hydronic configurations, in addition to supplying baseboard, radiators, and radiant floor systems, can also provide heat to hot tubs, swimming pools, and sidewalks/driveways for snow and ice melt. Finally, the system can also provide or supplement your potable hot water needs.
So why wouldn’t you switch to geothermal? Well… the initial investment is greater: to convert a 2200 square foot home to geothermal will typically cost $23-25K (for forced-air systems). (Don’t forget… a GSHP will outlive most other heating & cooling systems by 50% or more.) There are government incentives available which, cumulatively, could offset half to two-thirds of this cost, including:
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has a Ground Source Heat Pump Rebate Program which offers up to $1500 per cooling ton for installations completed by June 2019 (or until allocated funds are exhausted. That amounts to $7-9K for a typical 2200sf house.
- A Federal tax credit is also available. For residential installations, it’s 30% through 2019, 26% in 2020, and 22% in 2021.
- No increase in property tax (in most jurisdictions) despite an increase in the value of your home
If that’s not enough, low cost financing is readily available in many cases. In fact, it is often possible to finance the balance (after applied incentives) so that your monthly loan repayments are less than your monthly energy cost savings, resulting in immediate positive cash flow.
Contact us now to learn more about geothermal energy advantages and to determine if the best heating and cooling system available today (and for the future of our planet) is right for you.
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