July 3, 2022
If you’re thinking about a geothermal heat pump system for your home or business, “running the numbers” to see how your budget can benefit over time is slightly different. You’re investing in a system that lasts longer than standard HVAC equipment and provides efficiencies much more than the typical fraction of the energy burned or consumed.
Because of the geothermal energy source, your efficiency can be well beyond 100%. Up to 400% or four times the energy input is possible. At Scott-Lee Heating Company, we can help you put the numbers on paper and see the real benefits geothermal provides in energy use reduction and operational cost stability for your home.
There are two things to know about geothermal: it’s a renewable energy source drawn from the earth, and the mechanism used is standard heat pump technology. These two facts make calculating your financial advantages from using a geothermal heat pump system relatively straightforward. You’ll find there are several reasons why relying on this renewable energy can give you a great return on your investment, including:
- Long life, typically 50 years or more
- Equipment similar to home heat pump systems
- 5-10 year payback time frames
- Boosts your property value
- Stable cost of operation
- Stable geothermal energy
The cost-benefit math for a geothermal system can sound too good to be true since a small amount of energy input as electricity results in a fantastic amount of heating and cooling energy production.
Taking the Seasonal Variation Out of Standard Heat Pump Technology
The basic benefit of geothermal is an especially good return on heat pump performance. Standard heat pumps are already a great option for homeowners in models that use ambient air temperature. Highly efficient equipment has been developed that can even operate when temperatures drop and snow falls. Their efficiency is lower when they heat homes in especially cold weather, though. Geothermal systems use a stable ground temperature, found only a few feet down, that runs in the 50s Fahrenheit year-round. That keeps efficiency stable for heating and cooling throughout the year, and leverages electricity input for operation to produce as much as 400 percent return on the energy investment.
Geothermal Energy Use Scales Well
Stable, efficient geothermal systems are being used by small communities as a shared resource. The concept is similar to long ago when steam plants provided heating for college campuses and other collections of homes or commercial buildings. In fact, geothermal energy is being used at a Missouri university for large-scale HVAC system operation, and exceeding expectations. It’s also an excellent energy source for agricultural operations and other organizations where centralized heating and cooling can be of benefit. Home-based geothermal uses only a fraction of the homeowner’s property in most cases for coil installation, and since it’s located underground the land above is still available for use. Scaling for commercial applications and business HVAC is quite possible using the same geothermal principles.
Home Values and Tax Credits
A new HVAC system can boost the value of a property, and a heat pump-based system even more so. These assets are desirable for many home buyers as well, since they help in the calculation to determine annual operating costs of the property. Geothermal takes the boost to equity even further, as it’s a long-lasting system using renewable energy yet there’s nothing really exotic about it. It’s based on standard technology. Government tax credits are currently available for homeowners who install geothermal-based systems, encouraging their substantial reduction in traditional energy use.
Geothermal Wells Are Different from Residential Coil-Based Systems
There are several types of geothermal energy production in use depending on the application. Simple coil-based systems buried a few feet underground are common for residential use. Commercial and government systems often use “wells” dug deep into the ground where even more benefit from the renewable resources of the earth are available. In very large, very deep systems, the considerations of land use and effects of digging on a large scale deep into the earth have resulted in implementation concerns. These projects are quite different from simple, shallowly dug residential geothermal except in the basic principle of using the heated earth.
Long-Lasting Geothermal Coils Provide a Passive Energy Source Over Decades
Most home heating and cooling systems work hard to process energy into heat or cooling, resulting in wear over time. The lifespan of geothermal equipment is divided between the coils buried in the ground, and the heat pump equipment in the home. The coils, which have an extremely long anticipated lifespan of 50 years or more, provide ongoing energy with a minimum of care. The heat pump system is similar to air-based systems in design and construction, and can last up to several decades. It requires routine maintenance and eventual repairs that are easily performed by HVAC organizations with geothermal experience, using readily available parts.
Getting Away from the Energy Price Roller Coaster
An important factor in home heating and cooling is the cost of energy. Variations have led homeowners to even switch from one type of energy source to another, such as electric to gas. Since geothermal leverages a limited amount of electricity to operate a system that accesses basically “free” energy from the earth, it typically provides an efficiency of around 400 percent. Compare that to furnace ratings that are limited to around 95 percent, and which for older systems were as low as 50 or 60 percent. Even standard central air conditioning systems, which have improved significantly in recent decades, are still putting energy to work for cooling rather than using it to gain access to more energy. For some homeowners, the sound of constantly buzzing AC systems outside their home is another motivation to switch to quiet geothermal.
Replacing the Water Heater with Geothermal as Well
Of course, the mechanism that supplies heat for your home can also provide hot water as well. Modern hybrid water heaters use heat pump technology, and incorporating hot water systems into geothermal takes it even further, providing greater access to renewable energy.
Adding Geothermal Energy Independence to Home Value
New HVAC systems and especially heat pumps are considered an advantage for homeowners who are bringing their property to market. Geothermal has been said to increase property value by tens of thousands, as well as providing a market advantage that increases as the cost of energy rises in today’s volatile markets. Department of Energy estimates show a 5 to 10 year cost recovery period for homeowners who invest in geothermal, providing financial benefits now and over a long equipment lifetime.
Geothermal is Ideal for Off-Grid Use
Because of its reduced need for electricity and efficiency level far above fossil fuel-based heating, geothermal HVAC systems can help support the economics of off-grid living. It’s much easier to heat with energy from the earth using solar electricity than to directly heat the home with resistive heating devices run by off-grid power. At Scott-Lee Heating Company, we provide geothermal systems that help homeowners and businesses increase their energy independence now and in the future.