June 16, 2022
Why Use a Geothermal Heat Pump in Your Home or Business
Are you interested in geothermal systems in St. Louis, MO? You may have heard that the pioneering Missouri University of Science and Technology has been using geothermal energy since 2014. They use it to heat and cool 17 of their campus buildings at over 50 percent energy savings, and consider the project a resounding success. At Scott-Lee Heating Company, our decades of experience shows that green energy like geothermal provides great environmental and economic benefits. Geothermal is independent of the weather, using small amounts of energy to access large reserves in the earth. About 50,000 homes per year install geothermal in the U.S. That number is rising as homeowners and businesses understand the many benefits and straightforward technology involved.
- The long-term return of a geothermal investment
- The importance of green and renewable energy in your life or business operation
- The effect on your property of installing geothermal
- Service requirements, costs, and schedules
- Advantages for those who value independence in their energy source choices
- Even the enjoyment that many people experience from putting amazing technologies to work
How Geothermal HVAC Works
The first step for many homeowners is to believe in the technology, which can sound somewhat strange at first. It’s actually a version of the same process that makes heat pumps heat and cool homes, and the same with hybrid water heaters. For those devices, which use the surrounding air as their resource, what happens when the temperature drops is that they just lose efficiency, requiring more electrical energy to produce heat. They can still be used in all 50 states, even in some parts of Alaska. Now, when you go below the ground where the temperature is warmer and more consistent, even more possibilities and greater efficiency exist.
Year-Round Heating and Cooling Results
Heat pumps do a great job of warming and cooling your home and making hot water using only the temperature of the air around them. With geothermal systems, the variability of the air temperature is not a factor. Not far down into the earth, the temperature is quite stable, in the 50-degree Fahrenheit range. Of course, as you go deeper, geothermal energy becomes even more powerful, and that’s what large-scale systems use. Residential and commercial ground source heat pumps, as they’re also called, pump heat both ways for heating and cooling as needed.
Limited Depth Excavation to Install Coils
For homes and businesses, practical geothermal energy harvesting doesn’t require much digging at all. In Missouri, a few feet down is fine for typical applications. What goes down there are usually coils of plastic pipe, called ground loops, that contain liquid to transfer heat back and forth with a heat pump type system. These pipes can be easily installed in most sizes of property alongside the building, and are designed to last for 50 years or more. It’s a pretty straightforward system to install and operate, actually.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling Equipment
Coming up from the ground, the liquid in your ground loop pipes circulates through a transfer system that uses electricity to operate. Geothermal’s flexibility comes from the technology in the equipment, which makes it more useful than an old-fashioned root cellar or other underground space. People used those for their constant temperature year-round, where items could be stored such as produce, protecting them from summer heat and winter freezes. Modern geothermal heating and cooling involves an exchange of large amounts of energy powered by a small amount of electricity.
High, Yet Believable, Efficiency
Combining a solar electric system and a geothermal HVAC system could result in some pretty amazing operational cost reductions to keep your home or business comfortable. Even with traditional power sources, it’s quite reasonable to say that you can receive 400 percent efficiency. In comparison, your furnace is limited to about 98 percent efficiency when burning natural gas, propane, or fuel oil. The secret is in the process, which is basically scavenging abundant resources that are available nearby. Just like solar power, you’re collecting a tiny amount of what’s available.
Large-Scale Geothermal Plants are Different
Large-scale geothermal systems often use “wells” to collect energy from much deeper in the ground. Some residential and commercial systems are available to do that, but the simple ground loop based system is enough for homes and businesses that we serve. There are some practical issues such as the usual construction permits to be taken care of, but since it’s a simple project, that’s routine. Larger systems you may have read about that are designed to provide energy commercially have industrial-scale concerns that our systems don’t. Residential and small business geothermal is a very different type of system. It’s designed for low-impact operation, quietly providing green energy to keep you and your family or workers comfortable.
Requirements for Installing Geothermal
A small amount of land is needed, probably what you already have, and once the ground loop is in place, the surface can be used as usual. Installing a ground loop system requires construction, so permits are involved in most cases. The same goes for the equipment in the home that technicians, including our plumbers and electricians, will install and maintain. Distributing the heat and cool is standard, using air handling equipment and ducts or similar equipment depending on your architecture and requirements. For building occupants, adjust the thermostat and enjoy!
Transferring Your Property
Geothermal systems are long-lasting, up to 50 years or more for the in-ground equipment, and with typical lifetimes for the HVAC gear in your home or business. They’re easily serviced and eventually replaced. Professionally installed and permitted, they become a valuable part of your property.
Geothermal is Independent of Weather
Geothermal energy is independent of seasonal changes to the wind, rainfall, sunshine, or other weather effects. The temperature below the surface where we install ground loop systems stays constant, even from year to year.
Start the Geothermal Conversation with Us!
We’re excited to talk with you about your potential geothermal project and how we can put our experience to work for you.
- Can you leverage any of my existing HVAC equipment?
- Are tax credits or incentives available?
- Do customers often notice optional features they wish they had added at the start?
Full-Service HVAC and Geothermal Systems You Can Count On in St. Louis
At Scott-Lee Heating Company, we’ve been serving customers in the St. Louis area and beyond since 1978, and our HVAC skills and services are well recognized. Industry awards like the Dave Lennox Award that we’ve won 26 out of the 40 years that it’s been awarded show our professional standing. Our customers, those on whom we depend for our success, recognize the value and service that we provide. They trust us to keep comfortable in a reliable and budget-friendly way. Whatever your HVAC system needs, we provide the best systems and ongoing service, including geothermal. We’re confident in our work because we’ve seen the results for our customers over generations.
Let us provide the information, equipment, and services you need for your home or business. Call today!