With increased emphasis on reducing carbon footprint and energy emissions, geothermal heating systems have become a favorite to most homeowners across the U.S. These systems have been used since the 1940s to provide water heating.
With time, the advances in heating and cooling systems have made geothermal heating systems the best alternative to other conventional air handling systems. These systems are efficient in providing heating and cooling since they exchange heat with the ground.
Read on to find some of the most common questions about geothermal heating systems.
1. How Does a Geothermal Heating System Work?
Although the outdoor temperatures fluctuate when the seasons change, underground temperatures remain constant. Just a few meters below the earth’s surface, temperatures don’t vary all year-round. A geothermal system, also known as Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP), typically has a buried earth loop and an indoor unit.
It capitalizes on the constant temperatures to provide thermal energy. During winter, the fluid found in the system’s earth loop absorbs heat and transfers it indoors. The indoor unit plays the role of compressing the heat from the ground to a higher temperature before distributing it throughout your home. During summer, the process reverses so it pulls heat from your home, carries it through the earth loop, and deposits it in the earth.
Generally, geothermal heating systems are the most environmentally friendly and efficient systems on the market today. Unlike other conventional systems, these systems work by taking advantage of the earth’s absorbed and stored solar energy. The ground usually maintains a fairly constant temperature below the frost line.
Since a lot of this energy comes from the ground, your system will use less electricity to convert this heat to comfortable temperatures all year-round.
2. What Makes a Geothermal Heating System Different From Ordinary Systems?
A conventional heating system uses fossil fuels such as propane and natural gas for space heating and has a separate AC unit for cooling. On the other hand, a geothermal system has one heat pump that uses the ground’s constant temperature to heat and cool your home.
Therefore, rather than burning fossil fuels to produce heat, a geothermal heating system transfers heat from the earth, providing an affordable, environmentally friendly, and more efficient method of heating your home. You’ll only use electric power to operate the system’s compressor, fan, and pump.
3. What Are the Different Types of Geothermal Heating Loop Systems?
All types of geothermal heating systems have a mesh of interconnected pipes that they use as heat exchangers. During winter, refrigerants in these pipes absorb heat and transfer it into your home.
Geothermal systems are categorized differently according to their heat exchangers. They can be vertical loops, horizontal loops, open, closed, slinky, or pond loops. A closed-loop system works by recirculating the already present fluid within the system. However, an open-loop system continually changes the refrigerant.
The loop system is connected to your geothermal heating system. It comprises the pump, an air handler unit, and the compressor.
4. Do Geothermal Heat Systems Need Much Maintenance?
No. The geothermal components of your heating system are practically maintenance-free. When installed correctly, the buried loop should last for years. This is because they simply circulate fluid at low pressure.
All the other components are safe inside your home, protected from weather conditions. In most cases, you’ll only need to change your air filter a couple of times a year, and you’re good to go.
5. What’s the Installation Cost for Geothermal Heating?
Unlike other contemporary heating systems, geothermal systems have a higher up-front initial investment. On average, buying a geothermal heating system can cost you $10,000 to $30,000. The exact amount varies depending on various factors.
These factors include the type of geothermal heating system, the area to be dug up, the installation quality, and prior ductwork. However, advanced versions of geothermal systems can cost you even more than $30,000. Additionally, drilling and digging can sum up to more than half the total installation cost.
6. How Big Should My Land Be to Install a Geothermal Heating System?
Here, space varies depending on the type of loop system you consider using. Mostly, it depends on whether you want to install a vertical or horizontal loop system. A vertical loop dives deep into the ground and takes up less space.
On the other hand, a horizontal loop stays closer to the base and consists of pipes placed horizontally along the ground. Generally, the depth ranges from 1 to 3 meters. It can run up to 400 feet, depending on your specific requirements. If you’re staying in a large farmhouse or a countryside estate, you can consider installing a horizontal loop system.
7. What Are the Cons of Installing a Geothermal Heating System?
Geothermal heating system installation can take a very long time. This process happens in 3 steps. First, your plumber drills and installs the vertical ground loops. The ground loops are then connected to your home. Finally, the plumber installs a ground source heat pump to replace your indoor heating system.
Each of these steps can take up to two days. However, different municipalities have different approval processes. Some towns may take two weeks, while others take months to process the permit.
Installing a geothermal system is also costly. This is because you might need to coordinate a drilling technician, an indoor heating system expert, and an evacuating technician separately to get the work done. This may result in charges of over $50,000.
The process can also be messy since installers will need to drill the ground loop into your yard. Removing dirt from the hole causes a mess, and the situation might even worsen when there’s a high-water table.
8. Should I Consider Installing a Geothermal Heating System?
Of course, you should. The emission cuts and energy savings you’ll obtain by installing a geothermal heating system make it an attractive proposition. With an average lifespan of 25 years, using a geothermal system can result in $75,000 savings in energy during its entire lifetime. However, the payoff period is shorter, ranging between five to eight years on average.
All in all, the final decision will depend on your specific needs and situation. These include the heating capacity you need if you’re having a new home or older one and your living space. It’s in your best interest to also put into account your budget.
Contact the Geothermal Heating Professionals
Beltway Air Conditioning & Air has the expertise and experience required to offer top-notch heating services. We take great pride in providing world-class products from Goodman, Trane, Daikin, and Lennox. Our licensed and certified technicians can handle your unit regardless of its make and model.
From geothermal systems, furnaces, and boilers to air conditioning units, you can rest assured that we’ll keep you comfortable throughout the summer and winter season. With quick response time, professional technicians, and affordable prices, heating service is stress-free with us by your side.
Contact Beltway Air Conditioning & Air today for more information about upgrading from a conventional system to a geothermal heating system.