You may have heard of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) and wondered if you could replace your conventional cooling and heating equipment with a geothermal system. Unless your yard is exceedingly small, the answer is probably yes. The largest part of installing a GHP is laying the underground loop that harvests heat from underground (for heating) or rejects the heat into the ground (for cooling). The ground loop can be either horizontal or vertical, opening opportunities for many homeowners who otherwise wouldn’t be able to take advantage of these systems.
GHPs work as any other heat pump, but instead of creating or removing heat from the air, they use the ground or water as the energy source, where temperatures are stable throughout the year. These systems are much more energy efficient than other kinds of conditioning equipment because they operate in a stable thermal environment. It’s more efficient to provide cooling when the heat extracted from the home is rejected into the relatively cool earth than into the hot outside air. In the winter, the system can more readily extract warmth from that same earth, still around 50 degrees, than it can from the cold outside air, as a conventional air-source heat pump does.
Besides energy savings of up to 70 percent, a geothermal system offers these advantages:
- Quiet operation. A GHP doesn’t require an outdoor condenser, making your yard and home quieter. The indoor equipment is also quieter.
- Less maintenance. The lack of a condenser makes maintenance simpler. You’ll still need to check the air handler’s air filter monthly and change it when it’s dirty. Annual maintenance from the installing HVAC contractor will keep the system running at its original efficiency.
- Durability. The underground loop field has a life expectancy of 50 years or more, and the indoor air handler can last 15-25 years, far beyond other types of HVAC equipment.
- Tax credits. The federal government is offering a 30 percent tax credit for the purchase and installation of a qualifying geothermal heat pump. The credit is good through Dec. 31, 2016, and there’s no cap on the amount, making this one of the largest federal tax credits for HVAC systems available.
To learn more about a geothermal system, please contact us at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal. We’ve provided superior HVAC services for northwest Arkansas for more than 40 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Northwest Arkansas 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.
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