Geothermal, also known as ground source heat pump (GSHP) is system that uses the earth's constant temperature for cooling, heating and hot water. The earth acts as a large heat sink, storing energy.
- How does Geothermal work?
During the winter months heat energy is pulled from the ground and amplified through a compressor and fan system located in the home, resulting in a warm comforatble environment. During the summer, heat energy is pulled from the home and deposited in the earth. Part of this heat energy can be diverted to the hot water heater for low cost hot water.
- How are Geothermal Units Rated?
Similar to cars, there are various makes models and options for geothermal units. Each unit will be rated with a COP rating and EER rating so you can compare one unit to another.
- Is Geothermal cost effective?
It is cost effective. The operating and maintenance costs are less than any system on the market and with the longest life cycle. The initial cost of the system is typically higher than gas (forced air) or air to air heat pumps, but is much more efficient, thereby saving you money every month.
On a new construction home, the added cost of geothermal is reflected in a higher monthly mortgage payment which is offset by a higher amount of energy cost savings, resulting in a net positive cash flow to the owner.
On a retrofit, the investment of geothermal will result in lower energy bills. Typical annual energy savings may range from 40- 60%, giving a very good return on investment.
- Are there incentive programs for geothermal?
Yes, in many cases tax allowance, rebates and grants may be available from the Federal, State and local government as well as electrical companies and co-ops. Contact your local utility company or Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE).
- How much room do I need for a Geothermal System?
- Depending on the geothermal field design the wells will be placed a certain area apart.
- State Well regulations and setbacks must be complied with.
- The area should be relatively flat and accessible by a drill rig.
- Underground utilities, large trees, sidewalks, and landscaping are a few of the features that must be considered when locating geothermal wells.
- How do I find and choose a geothermal heating contractor?
Most utility companies maintain a list of qualified installers.
The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association has an online listing of qualified installers for each state. Equipment manufacturers will also have a list of their installers.
It is very important that the heating contractor is able to size the building load using a "Manual J" process. To service your unit the heating contractor should have a flush cart to purge the system of air and have heat fusion tooling and training to properly install the in house piping. As for references and/or a list of projects completed.
In most cases we can refer you to highly qualified heating contractors in your area.
- How do I start the process of installing geothermal?
1. Call us and speak with Jim for Commerical projects and Mark L. for Residental projects. They can assess your needs and answer any questions you may have.
2. We will reccomend one or more heating contractors in your area.
3. The heating contractor will do a site visit and/or review floor plans.
4. The Heating contractor will calculate equipment size needed and will contact us with the number of units and the size (tons) for each. One ton equals 12,000 Btu's.
5. We will do a site visit - site plans showing property lines and septic fields are very helpful. Before the site visit we will call Julie to locate and mark underground utilities.
6. We will should you possible locations for the loop field.
7. Along with the heating contractor, we will write a proposal contract for the geothermal system.
8. Upon your approval and receipt of deposit, we will order equipment, supplies and start the permit process.
9. Upon receiving the permit approval, the loop field drilling will be scheduled. Any required site work (tree removal, etc.) should be completed prior to drilling date.
- Are geothermal systems safe?
Yes. They have no open flames, or flammable fuels with potentially dangerous gases.
- Can geothermal be installed in both commercial and industrial applications?
Yes. In almost any application of heating, cooling and hot water, the system can be installed.
- Will my existing ductwork function with a new geothermal system?
Yes. In most cases only minor modifications are needed to install the new geothermal system.
- Do the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DOE (Department of Energy) reccomend geothermal?
Yes. Both organizations promote the use and installation of geothermal.
- Does geothermal benefit our environment?
Yes, the current systems installed are elminating more than 3 million tons of carbon dioxide and that is equivalent to taking 650,000 cars off the road. The units move heat energy that already exists, rather than burning fossil fuels to create it.
- Will the underground loop field adversely effect my lawn and trees?
No. Most of the piping is located in vertical wells 200' deep and the supply and return lines are buried at 3' to 4' depths.
- Can I add geothermal to my existing fossil fuel system?
- What type of pipe is used in the loop field?High Density, polyethylene, PE 3408 that is specially made for its heat transfer qualities.
Yes. Geothermal can be used as a dual system with fossil fuel, solar or supported by wind power.
- How are the pipes joined together in the loop field?
The pipes are joined by heat fusion tools. The fittings and pipe are heated to over 500 degrees and forced together, welding the two pieces together.