Geothermal Heat Pumps: An Excellent Residential Investment
Over the past decade or so, more and more residents are considering investing in energy efficient appliances as well as renewable energy systems such as solar panels and geothermal heat. You’ve probably noticed a great deal of hype about solar panels, but probably haven’t seen much news centered on geothermal heat systems.
What is a Geothermal Heat Pump?
Geothermal heat is simply heat that comes from underground. Geothermal heat pumps – also referred to as ground source heat pumps or GSHPs – transfer heat from the earth to or from your home in order to heat your water and either heat or cool your home. Not all pumps heat water, but all can heat or cool your home. Many geothermal pumps are also used in conjunction with solar panels to increase efficiency and reliability.
There are several different types of geothermal pumps, but all are installed underground, either horizontally or vertically.
What are the Benefits of Geothermal Heat Pumps?
The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both named geothermal heat pumps as one of the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly renewable energy systems currently available. Here’s why:
- Can cut energy consumption by 20-50%
- A cost savings of up to 50% on water heating by preheating tank water
- The system is roughly the same size as a traditional HVAC unit
- Extremely safe: no exposed equipment and no open flame or flammable fuel
- Many manufacturers offer warrantees on the pipes that last for decades
- All equipment is either buried in the ground or located inside of the home, so there’s no need to worry about children hurting themselves on outside equipment
- Can be installed virtually anywhere in the country, even if your area has harsh, cold winters.
- Can be installed virtually anywhere around your home: under your yard, driveway, or the house itself.
- Can work along with solar panels to increase efficiency and reliability
Is It Worth the Cost?
The average life span of geothermal pumps is 22 years, and most have a payback of two to seven years. In other words, the cost savings will make up for the price of the system and you’ll start saving money in only a few years. Some states even offer rebates and tax breaks for geothermal pumps.
If you have the time and money to pay for a geothermal heat pump, there’s no reason not to invest in one of these systems because of the enormous cost savings over the long run.
Do Geothermal Pumps Eliminate the Need for Electricity and Natural Gas?
Geothermal pumps heat and cool your home and heat your water, but they can’t power your home’s lights, electronics, and appliances. Because of this, you’ll still need to purchase electricity from your utility or retail electricity provider.
If you use natural gas to heat your home or oven, you will still need to make sure that you have natural gas as a backup. In extremely cold temperatures, the geothermal pump may not be able to provide all of the heat you need for both your home’s air and water.
If you’re shopping around for a geothermal pump, find one that is compatible with solar power, even if you don’t plan on installing solar panels in the near future. The price of solar panels will likely to continue to drop, and their power and efficiency will certainly improve as technologies improve. In the next several years, you may find that installing solar panels is a cost-effective way to almost completely eliminate the need to buy electricity or natural gas. Learn more about solar panels here.
You can learn more about geothermal heat pumps through the Oklahoma State University’s International Ground Source Heat Pump Association’s website.