Class #1: Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems for New Homes

ecohomeWhen considering heating and cooling systems for new homes, it might be easy to go with a standard HVAC system. Before you commit to this, though, consider the fact that the HVAC system is a major factor in how high your utility bills are going to be. Choosing the wrong kind of system for the home can cause you to waste money unnecessarily.

A geothermal heating and cooling system can change that by taking advantage of the fact that, below a certain level, the temperature of the ground never changes very much even when you live in a region that freezes in the winter and gets hot in the summer. It pipes water between your home, a heat pump and the ground to improve the efficiency of keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Compare this to a standard HVAC that pipes in air from the surrounding atmosphere to keep your home warm or cool. Heating or cooling this outside air with a standard HVAC system is much less efficient, especially on days when you really need it.

Benefits of Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems

They’re eco-friendly. Geothermal heating and cooling can reduce the energy used for heating and cooling by as much as 70%. Because geothermal heating and cooling systems are more efficient, they reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to keep your home warm or cool. They basically make use of the laws of thermodynamics to either shed or absorb the required amount of heat, so they reduce the environmental impact of one of the major energy users in your home.

They’re cost-effective. If you’ve been wanting a new home but you’re also concerned about how much you would be paying for electricity, a geothermal system can keep that monthly bill under control. A typical geothermal system can pay for itself in energy savings within 2 to 5 years. A standard HVAC is an energy hog, but because the geothermal system is taking advantage of what the ground naturally has, it can achieve efficiencies of 400% to 600%. It’s not violating thermodynamic laws; it’s just pulling heat energy directly out of the ground instead of burning fossil fuels to keep your house warm during the winter. That saves you money on your monthly heating and cooling bill.

They’re easy to maintain. While geothermal heating and cooling systems do require regular maintenance to continue running efficiently, the technician is often called unnecessarily because the homeowner was not very familiar with their needs. Many maintenance issues can be solved with something as simple as keeping the filters clean, checking the fuse box, checking the grilles and supply registers to make sure they’re open and not obstructed, and making sure the thermostat is on the right setting.

They’re reliable. Geothermal heating and cooling systems have a long life span when they’re properly maintained and can reliably heat or cool your home simply because they’re piping the heat directly to or from the ground.

They’re tax-deductible. Many people hesitate to install a geothermal heating and cooling system because they think the up-front cost is too high. However, you can get tax deductions that make the price more palatable. Be sure to check the tax deductions you can get on your state and federal taxes.

They’re among the most highly recommended heating and cooling systems. 95% of owners of a home with geothermal heating and cooling would recommend it to others because they like the reliability and the savings on their utility bills.

image credit: http://www.nfecoop.com/content/what-geothermal (click to enlarge)
image credit: http://www.nfecoop.com/content/what-geothermal (click to enlarge)

Are There Any Drawbacks to a Geothermal Heating and Cooling System?

Not very many, though you do want to check with your city building code to see what say about geothermal heating and cooling systems. Some contractors may also not be very familiar with geothermal heating and cooling systems because they’re not very common yet. Installing any new heating and cooling system is not going to be cheap even when you can get tax deductions for a geothermal system. In the long run, though, the pros outweigh the cons because you won’t be spending as much on your monthly utility bills.

It’s easiest to install a geothermal heating and cooling system when building a new house, but you may also have options if you need to replace an existing HVAC system. If you’re looking to build a new house or replace a heating and cooling system in an existing house, ask the contractor if he’s familiar with geothermal systems because this can save you money and be friendlier on the environment in the long run.

To the next class!