Harnessing geothermal energy for your home is a wonderful way to reduce your carbon footprint, while also saving yourself some cash if you are in it for the long haul. In fact, it is one of the best ways to get clean, renewable energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Here are four advantages of using geothermal energy for heating and cooling your home.
The Power Of Using The Earth
There is currently no other system that is as energy efficient as geothermal, because you are literally using the power of the Earth. No run-off gasses, no carbon emissions, just the earth itself to heat and cool your home. However, it does use some electricity to extract the heating and cooling from the ground – but far, far less than any other system uses to get the job done.
Low Operating Costs
If you didn’t know it before, the minuscule monthly power bills are a huge advantage to getting geothermal heating and cooling.
“Ground water heat pump systems, when installed on an off-peak electrical power system, have extremely low operating costs,” says Keith Hill, manager of technical support at Minnesota Air. “Off-peak power is a program available through your electric utility that provides you with half-price electricity for your heat pump. But in return, you give permission for them to shut off your heat pump system during peak demand – typically happens only for small periods of time during subzero days or hot summer days. Half-price electricity powering a super-high-efficient heat pump using stable underground water as a heat sink makes for a system that sips power both in heating and cooling mode.”
That is a great benefit, but the downside is the upfront installation cost, says Keith. In order for geothermal to work, there needs to be tubing buried deep underground. This can require a lot of excavation work in your backyard, or you may choose that alternative method that uses vertical wells, which can be drilled into tighter spaces. However, that cost is even higher due to the expensive well-drilling equipment needed.
The geothermal heat pump costs only slightly more than a standard high-efficiency air conditioning system, but if you are part of an off-peak power program, you will need a backup gas furnace installed for peak winter periods when the power company turns off the heat pump, says Keith.
Very Reliable Temperature
The ground under our feet stays around 50 to 60 degree, no matter the time of year. Even when frost kicks in during the winter, just below that frozen ground is soil with warmer and consistent temperatures. That makes for one of the best places to capture a constant heat (or cooling) without taking much work to get it to that temperature you want.
Lastly, Keith says if you like the idea of a very low energy bill but can’t quite afford a ground water system, there is another alternative.
“A few years ago Carrier introduced their Infinity Greenspeed Heat Pump System. It’s a super high-efficiency heat pump that approaches geothermal operating costs but without the need to dig up your yard or bore wells,” he says.
“It can be operated on off-peak power, giving you near-geothermal operating costs but at a much friendlier installation price.”