A geothermal system is perhaps the most efficient heating and cooling system available. It is designed to last longer and operate at a higher efficiency level than any other HVAC unit. Though the upfront costs are substantially higher, a geothermal system can drastically reduce your energy bill, as much as 80% in some cases.
At AMS, we recommend geothermal systems only to those customers who intend to own their home for a good length of time, usually decades. It makes little sense to invest the money for the system only to move out within a year or two.
How Geothermal Works
Geothermal is unique among HVAC installations in that the system is placed under the ground instead of in an encased indoor/outdoor unit. Where other HVAC units convert energy by means of gas, propane or electricity, a geothermal system operates by utilizing the very Earth itself.
As seasons change, our air temperature shifts dramatically. Scorching hot in the summer, freezing cool in the winter. But underground, things are different. The Earth’s temperature beneath the ground stays relatively constant, regardless of how hot or cold it is above.
A geothermal system takes advantage of this consistent temperature. In the summer months, the ground beneath your feet will be cooler than the hot air above. In the winter, vice versa. In either case, a geothermal unit will draw the hot/cold air out of your home and run it through a loop system beneath the earth, heating and cooling the air as needed.
Because geothermal relies upon steady temperatures below ground, it does not need greater amounts of resources (such as gas or electricity) to create heat and cold.
Geothermal units can operate anywhere between 300% and 600% efficiency.
Types of Geothermal Systems
There are four main types of geothermal systems:
- Open Loop: Uses existing groundwater as a heat transfer medium
- Pond Loop: Uses water from a nearby pond or lake
- Horizontal Loop: Uses long horizontal tubes spread over greater area of land
- Vertical Loop: Uses long tubes sunk deep into the ground
The variety of geothermal systems allows for our AMS experts to adequately assess the needs of your home against the available space and surrounding geography. If you have a great deal of land to work with, a Horizontal Loop unit may be your best bet. If you have only a small patch of land in which to install your geothermal system, then a Vertical Loop will likely be a better option.
Our experts will help you decide which system is best for your home.
The main advantage of a geothermal system is efficiency. No other HVAC installation can offer you the kind of efficiency and overall savings as geothermal. On average, a geothermal unit will reduce energy consumption between 30% and 70%. Some homes see upwards of 80% energy reduction.
This efficiency equals significant savings. Homeowners may see as much as $4 savings for every $1 spent on electricity.
Geothermal is also endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency because it is one of the cleanest HVAC systems available for the environment. There is no gas or propane to burn. Electricity use is greatly reduced. And geothermal units tap into the most sustainable energy source on Earth: the planet itself.
Finally, geothermal systems have low maintenance costs and long life spans. The average system is designed for 25 years or more of use. A heat pump, by comparison, is designed for 15. Because geothermal units are installed underground, they are built specifically to operate without a need for continual maintenance. Underground, they are safe from debris, buildup, dust and corrosion that often break down other HVAC systems.
Geothermal Tax Credit
Through the end of 2016, the federal government is offering a 30% tax credit for homeowners installing Energy Star geothermal systems. Since geothermal units are indeed costly, this savings is a significant benefit that homeowners should take advantage of before it is gone.