Heat pumps for geothermal systems perform dual roles as both air conditioners and furnaces. The technology utilizes the stable temperature of the earth to extract warmth for heating or disburse heat taken from indoor air in the cooling mode. This is accomplished by means of a loop of heat-exchanging liquid buried several feet underground, where the temperature remains a approximately 50 degrees, continuously, year-round.
Excavation or drilling to bury loops of pipe on your property involves a significant upfront installation cost. However, geothermal systems are so efficient that payback occurs relatively fast compared to other technologies—according to one study, frequently in as little as seven years. The most efficient geothermal systems offer double the efficiency of high-efficiency air conditioners, and typically are approximately 50 percent more efficient than most gas furnaces. This means greater energy savings for you.
Currently, there is a federal tax credit for as much as 30 percent of your costs, with no upper limit, for installation of a geothermal heat pump. This federal tax credit expires at the end of 2016.
If you’re considering a geothermal system, here as some advanced features of heat-pump components that you should consider:
- Dual-speed compressor. Standard heat pump compressors run at one speed, regardless of changes in required capacity as temperatures vary. Two-speed compressors automatically adjust to a lower speed when capacity demand is low, which saves electricity and extends your compressor’s life.
- Scroll technology. Another advance is the use of scroll compressors instead of less-efficient piston compressors. Scroll compressors have a longer service life, generate less noise and produce more heat—up to 10 to 15 degrees more than piston compressors consuming the same amount of energy.
- Variable speed blowers. Sometimes you need the blower to produce more air circulation, at other times you need less and want quieter operation. Variable-speed controls for the fan blower allow you to adjust blower speed to match your immediate needs.
- Hotter water. A helpful byproduct of heat-pump operation is the capacity to utilize heat extracted from the air in cooling mode to heat water for your home. This feature, called a desuperheater, heats water with up to three times greater efficiency than an electric water heater.
Paschal Heat, Air, Geothermal & Generators serves Northwestern Arkansas homeowners with expert sales, service and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) advice. Let us show you how we’ve built a 40-year reputation for know-how and reliability.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about geothermal systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.