Geothermal Heat Pumps: Big Investment, Big Payoff
Geothermal heat pumps allow homeowners to take advantage of the relatively constant year-round temperatures underground. Unlike the surface, where heat and cold can roller coaster dramatically with the seasons, the area underground stays a similar temperature no matter the weather.
Sustainable, renewable and practically free, geothermal HVAC is an excellent choice for homeowners who wish to save money and maintain a green lifestyle. You may ask: Why don’t more homeowners take advantage of geothermal heating and cooling? The simple answer is upfront cost. While the source may be essentially free, the cost of capturing the Earth’s natural energy can be cost-prohibitive - especially if attempted without professional advice and installation assistance.
How Geothermal Heat Pumps Work
A basic geothermal heat pump system consists of a pipe system, known as an earth loop, that is buried 4 to 6 feet below the ground level. Burying the pipe that deep allows it to sit below the frost line in most climates. The earth loop is connected to a pump, an indoor handling unit, interior ductwork and a re-injection well. The pump circulates fluid through the earth loop. In winter, the fluid absorbs the heat from the earth and recirculates it through a heat exchanger into your home to warm it. In the hotter months - even a Marietta summer - the cooler fluid sends heat from the home back through the heat exchanger and redistributes it into the Earth’s natural insulating layer.
Once installed, the only operating cost for a geothermal heat pump is the electric power you will use to run the pump, the compressor and the fan that distributes the warm and cool air throughout your home.
Cost of a Geothermal System
While more and more units are being sold each year, the up-front project cost of between $10,000 and $25,000, as broken down by Energy Environmental, can be shocking to many homeowners. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the owner of a geothermal heat pump can recoup the costs of the system through energy savings in just a few years. Forking over the cost for a system, most of which goes to installation, can be daunting when done all at once. However, if you can swing it, the energy savings over the life of the system along with tax credits available through the federal and state governments, a geothermal HVAC system may be right for you.