Geothermal systems transfer heat from a building to the earth in the cooling mode, or from the earth to the building in the heating mode. Water is used as the heat transfer medium, either in a closed loop piping system, or by directly pumping well water. By using this stable thermal source, geothermal heat pumps provide energy efficient comfort the year around.
The extremely high levels of efficiency are possible because a geothermal heat pump only uses electricity to move heat, not produce it. A Geothermal Heat Pump unit typically supplies 4 kilo watts of heat for every kilowatt of electricity used. Three of these kilo watts of heat come directly from the earth itself, and are clean, free and renewable. Most systems also include a hot water generator, which diverts a portion of the supplied heat to the domestic water heater. This provides a substantial portion of a family’s hot water needs at a very low cost. Overall, geothermal technology offers the highest cooling EERʼs and heating COPʼs available in the industry.
Geothermal heat pumps also provide higher comfort than traditional space conditioning equipment. By using a relatively warm source of heat such as the earth, supply air temperatures are significantly higher in the heating mode than traditional air-source heat pumps. Geothermal heat pumps also cycle much less often than fossil furnaces, creating a more consistent indoor temperature.
Geothermal heat pumps provide this comfort and economy in a single factory-tested and sealed packaged unit, without the need for field evacuation or charging, a noisy outdoor fan, or a flue.
The environmental advantages of geothermal systems have caught the eye of governmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Because it is lowest in CO2 emissions, geothermal technology provides a solution to global warming by primarily using the natural energy of the earth. In contrast, traditional space conditioning systems depend upon the exploitation and burning of fossil energy sources with the resultant greenhouse gas emissions. Also, EarthPure™ HFC 410A refrigerant is used in the factory sealed unit for minimum global warming impact and zero ozone depletion.
Low life-cycle costs are provided by the low operating and maintenance costs of geothermal systems, even when the higher initial installation costs are considered. In new construction, monthly energy savings typically exceed the increased mortgage payments. Therefore, cash flow is positive from the start. In retrofit systems, a buyer who purchases with cash usually realizes a return on investment well above certificate of deposit rates. And, with equipment life exceeding 20 years, a Geothermal Heat Pump unit is a lasting investment.
Electric utilities, recognizing the dual benefits of high efficiency and low electric peak demand, often provide incentives to purchase these systems.