You may instantly assume that every home, everywhere should have a heat pump because they are the most environmentally sound heating and cooling system. While this isn’t necessarily the case for every type of heat pump, it is certainly worthwhile addressing the eco-friendliness associated with the geothermal kind, and taking a further in-depth look at the credentials of this type of HVAC system.
What is a heat pump?
A heat pump is a unique HVAC system. It has the advantage of being able to perform both heating and cooling functions for the home whenever either is required. Within hot climates, its performance is akin to an electrically powered air conditioner, gathering heat from inside the home, expelling it and then replacing it with cool air. During cold seasons, it operates doing the opposite, extracting cold air away from the home. Air source heat pumps are mostly used in tempered eco zones, where the differences in outdoor and indoor air temperatures are fully utilized to heat and cool many houses. Heat pumps qualified under Energy Star have a higher seasonal efficiency rating (SEER) and heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) than standard models. This makes them around 8 percent more efficient than newer standard models and 20 percent more efficient than older models.
How geothermal performs
With the recent increase in ‘green’ initiatives and incentives, rewarding those who actively partake in the reduction of carbon emissions, it is no wonder that geothermal heat pumps are becoming especially popular at this moment in time. They are naturally environmentally-friendly and highly energy efficient due to their core function of extracting heat directly from the ground in the winter, and transferring heat back into the ground to provide cooling during hotter seasons. The actual process of heat transfer is caused by a loop of refrigerant, located right in the center of the pump, being pushed through a vapor-compression cycle. Experts suggest that a geothermal pump provides three units of heat for every single unit it requires to power it. This equates to a massive 300 percent efficiency!
It is because of this that geothermal heat pumps are seen as a great option for new home builds. Even though the application of a geo-heat pump in an existing home is perceived more as a major renovation, it remains a worthy investment, especially if you are already planning a remodeling project and environmental issues are of high priority on your list of concerns. These pumps provide you with heating, hot water, air-conditioning and dehumidification, with annual operating costs being up to 80 percent less than any other heating option. However, geothermal furnace prices are on average two to three times more expensive than alternative high-efficiency systems, and cost up to three to five times as much as mid- or low-efficiency alternative systems.
Energy costs and savings
The higher asking price exists for two very important reasons. The system enables annual operating costs to be greatly reduced and environmental friendliness to be significantly more. For example, if you are paying around $1,920 on yearly running costs for heating, cooling and hot water ($160 / month), which is quite a moderate figure, this could be decreased to around $96 / month (a 40-percent savings) or even as little as $32 / month (an 80-percent savings). That’s a total of $384 to $1,152 / year – which means that even at a higher price tag than alternative options, there are many instances where a geothermal heating system is a recommended budget choice.
Cleaner and safer
The environmental-friendliness and ‘green’ contribution of a geothermal heat pump can never be understated. Natural gas, oil, and wood-burning systems release carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other potentially toxic gases that are harmful to the environment. They also produce ash and soot, which also presents wastage issues. Although gas is the cleanest fuel element among them, it is still a potentially explosive source of airborne pollution and poses serious safety issues when utilized in home environments. A geothermal system, on the other hand, is normally closed and does not depend on fuels that release toxins, making it safer for everyone, including plants and animals.
A geothermal heat pump system is economical, clean and extremely good for the environment. Its performance is natural, and as a result it does not pollute the air in the home or outside with potentially harmful or toxic chemicals. Whether you are seriously seeking to reduce your household’s carbon emissions or looking to lower your energy bills while staying ‘green’, the geothermal heating option is possibly the best available.