May 1, 2023
Since the ground stays at a fairly constant temperature, especially in comparison with the air, it works well as a heat source in the winter. Ground-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal systems or geothermal heat pumps, take advantage of this. They’re able to transfer heat from the ground and send it into homes. In the summer, these heat pumps also provide a valuable service. They take heat from homes and transfer it into the ground, where it’s readily accepted. Geothermal energy comes with many advantages, but like with anything else, it has some disadvantages as well.
How Geothermal Heat Pumps Work
Geothermal systems transfer heat between your house and the earth using water or refrigerant circulated through long loops of underground pipes. In cold weather, the heat pump removes the heat energy collected in the fluid, concentrates it, and transfers it to your home. Alternatively, the heat pump removes heat from the building in summer and deposits it underground. In most systems, conventional ductwork is used to distribute heated or cooled air from the geothermal heat pump throughout the building. This means that you do not have to replace the ductwork in your house when having a geothermal system installed.
Advantages of Geothermal Heat Pumps
Reduce Heating Costs
Traditional HVAC oil and gas-fired furnaces or boilers warm air or water by using the heat energy that they generate from the combustion of fossil fuels. Alternatively, in many homes, electric furnaces, boilers, or baseboard heating uses electrical current to create heat. The EPA reports that almost half of the average American’s monthly utility bill is heating and cooling costs. Geothermal systems eliminate the need to burn fuel or use electricity to produce heat, reducing a homeowner’s energy costs during cold seasons.
Geothermal heating is also more cost-effective than air-sourced heat pumps when it comes to heating. This is because the temperature below ground is relatively stable compared to the air temperature above ground. When above-ground temperatures drop below 42 degrees, air-source heat pumps begin to operate less efficiently.
An Eco-Friendly Option
Geothermal heat pumps don’t emit greenhouse gases from the combustion of fossil fuels as most traditional heating systems do. As a homeowner, you may be interested in reducing your carbon footprint. Upgrading to a geothermal system can be a way to do so.
Only Requires One System
If you choose to use geothermal energy, in most cases, you won’t need separate cooling and heating systems. A geothermal heat pump can work as a heater and an air conditioner, so your home will be comfortable in every season. For people who like simplicity, this can be a major advantage of geothermal systems. Only one installation needs to get scheduled, and instead of having to keep up with the maintenance of two HVAC systems, you’ll only have to take care of one.
A geothermal system can be pretty quiet. This is great news if you’re sensitive to noise or if you’d like to enjoy peace and quiet when you are at home. Unlike traditional air conditioners and heating systems, geothermal heat pumps are installed with mufflers and foam insulation. Additionally, many of the outdoor components are underground. With a central air conditioning system or air-sourced heat pump, there is a sizable outdoor unit that can make a good amount of noise when running.
Modern geothermal HVC systems have a longer life expectancy than conventional heating and cooling systems. The heat pump usually last 20 to 25 years, and the underground components last much longer than that. On the other hand, traditional furnaces have to be replaced every 15 to 20 years, and central air conditioners only last between 10 and 15 years.
Many Kinds of Systems
There isn’t just one type of geothermal heating system. Instead, several options allow homeowners to install a geothermal system that works for their home’s needs. There are three types of closed-loop systems to consider.
A horizontal closed-loop system could work well on more spacious properties, and it requires the installers to dig trenches that are about four feet under the ground. Alternatively, a vertical closed-loop system may be better for smaller properties. It does require digging further down into the ground but does not require as much square footage horizontally. Alternatively, if you have a body of water nearby, a geothermal system could take advantage of that. A closed-loop system can use a pond or other body of water to transfer heat as long as it is deep enough.
Disadvantages of Geothermal Heat Pumps
Requires Significant Work in Your Yard
Putting in a geothermal heat pump might sound pretty straightforward, but it involves a lot of hard work, complex tasks, and heavy machinery. If you’re planning on getting a horizontal closed-loop geothermal system, your yard will be a mess during the installation process. Big machines will have to dig trenches over a wide area, and all that dirt will have to go somewhere before it can be put back into place. When it has been put back, you will have to replant grass and anything else that was part of your landscape design. If you choose to go with a vertical system, the project will still require heavy machinery and some disturbance to your landscaping.
Expensive to Install
While geothermal systems might be relatively cheap to run, they’re not cheap to install by any means. Installing a system can be a very expensive prospect. The cost is likely to be a five-figure amount. You may qualify for certain tax credits or rebates, but your initial investment is going to be hefty no matter what.
While it doesn’t use gas or oil, a geothermal heat pump does rely on electricity. Using one of these heat pumps can add to your electricity bill each month. This also means that a heat pump wouldn’t be able to heat or cool your home during a power outage. If the power has been out for a significant amount of time, when it comes back, your heat pump will need to restart. Unlike traditional HVAC systems, after the power has come on, you will not have warm or cool air coming through the vents for several hours.
Contact the Professionals
If you’d like to hear more about geothermal energy in St. Louis, Scott-Lee Heating Company would be happy to talk about your options with you. We were founded back in 1978 and have grown considerably over the years. At our veteran-owned company, all of our technicians have received extensive training and have on-the-job experience. Our dedication to quality service has helped us earn an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. We regularly install, repair, and service heat pumps, heaters, air conditioners, and mini splits. In case of emergency, we’re available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. We also have experience with metalwork, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and systems that can enhance indoor air quality. Contact us at Scott-Lee Heating Company if you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment.