One of the newest HVAC trends to hit Charleston and all over the Lowcountry are geothermal heating and cooling systems.
Despite the fact that it’s growing in popularity, geothermal energy in general is still often misunderstood so with this post we hope to help fill in some of those information gaps and hopefully show you why more and more homeowners are making the switch.
Geothermal heating and cooling is the process of using energy stored in the ground (geothermal energy) to heat and cool your home. This geothermal energy is there because the ground absorbs and retains heat coming from the sun (up to 47%), year-round. So while the air temperature above ground may fluctuate greatly throughout the year, the below-ground temperatures remain almost constant due to that heat absorption. This constant temperature means the ground is cooler than air temperatures in the summer and warmer than air temperatures during the winter.
So what geothermal technology does is tap into that near infinite, free stored energy below your home and uses it to heat and cool your home depending on the season.
During the summer, the geothermal system draws the warm air from your home and delivers it to the much cooler temperatures below your home. This is much like a normal air conditioning system but instead of dumping the hot air outside (in more heat), it puts it into the ground where it is much cooler making it run much more efficiently.
During the winter, warm air is pumped up from the much warmer ground to heat your home. There’s no combustion involved like a normal furnace; geothermal heating simply collects the natural, clean warmth from the ground to keep you warm during the holiday seasons.
One of the biggest benefits of geothermal heating and cooling is efficiency. Geothermal’s high efficiency operation can lead to up to 70% in yearly electricity savings.
Directly related to efficiency, the other major benefit is how geothermal can actually yield you a profit over it’s lifetime. The amount of money you save each month by using geothermal will often be less than payments for installation if financed. This means that each month you end up at a net positive after spending, instead of constant net losses with a traditional HVAC system.
Geothermal technology also lasts much longer traditional HVAC systems (by almost 10 years for the indoor equipment), meaning you’ll be pocketing the net positive savings for several years over normal units.
The underground equipment for geothermal systems last up to 100 years so once it’s in, the only thing you would need to replace is the indoor equipment which itself lasts up to 25 years (versus 12-15 for normal HVAC systems).
Air quality and safety are also top-notch with geothermal systems, as they require no combustion material (that can cause fumes) to operate.
If all of that wasn’t enough, the EPA has listed geothermal as the most environmentally friendly heating and cooling source out there, helping reduce pollution caused by fossil fuel consumption.
Geothermal system costs can vary depending on the home’s individual setup and circumstance. Generally speaking though, some of the upfront costs of installing geothermal will be more than with a traditional system, to be sure.
That being said though, combining the monthly energy savings along with the extended lifetime use of geothermal, you’ll be able to recoup that initial investment whereas with traditional units you’ll never break-even over its lifetime. You’ll also have to pay for a new traditional unit after 15 years, whereas geothermal will last up to 10 years longer, saving you additional expenses down the road.
Long story short, initial costs for geothermal exceed traditional HVAC installation, however you’ll be able to recoup the geothermal investment; that’s not possible with traditional systems.
Yes! To help offset the initial installation costs and reward homeowners to move toward geothermal HVAC, federal tax credits up to 30% and state tax credits of up to 25% are actively available.
Nearly every homeowner that chooses geothermal takes advantage of these programs so be sure to ask your local HVAC company about them.
One of the leading producers of geothermal technologies is WaterFurnace. WaterFurnace is probably one of the most well-known names in geothermal for two reasons:
Also, they’ve been around since 1983 so longevity in the market implies they’re one of the go-to suppliers for installers and distributors worldwide.
As mentioned above, any proper geothermal equipment manufacturer will restrict installation of their technology to only those that are trained by them. WaterFurnace is no different. They, like most others, absolutely won’t let anyone touch their equipment unless they’ve gone through proper training, conducted by them.
The thinking behind that is that you can produce the best, sharpest equipment in the world, but if it’s not installed correctly it won’t matter. And poor installations reflect poorly on the equipment regardless of how good it is.
This is why, with geothermal especially, you need to make sure whichever company you choose for the installation has gone through the proper training; the manufacturer will be happy to provide you that information.
As you can see, geothermal has significant advantages for homeowners here in the Lowcountry and we hope we’ve covered any questions you may have had about it.
As always, if you have any additional questions don’t hesitate to contact us today; we’ll be happy to provide answers to any geothermal or any other HVAC questions you may have.