The basic concept behind geothermal systems is much simpler than many people expect. Because the ground stays at a relatively constant temperature below a depth of two feet, it is a reservoir of heat in the winter and heat sink in the summer. A Geothermal Heat Pump (GHP) conducts water through a pipe buried in the ground, naturally warming your house in the winter and naturally cooling it in the summer. Very little energy is needed to keep your house at the same temperature you have your thermostat set to right now. Geothermal HVAC systems are the most efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly systems available today.
Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) often have much lower operating costs than standard heating and air-conditioning systems. According to the Office of Geothermal Technologies, a 1,500 square foot house can have energy costs as low as $1 a day. If you are a homeowner, you can see how easily such savings can add up. The initial price of a geothermal heat pump is higher than that of a standard system, but the savings will pay for the entire system in about 10 years. Geothermal systems also have lower maintenance costs. Standard HVAC systems have more mechanical components and are more exposed to weather and debris while a geothermal system's most valuable part is tucked safely away underground with up to a 50 year warranty. Many banks offer special loans to encourage homeowners to buy systems that have the DOE and EPA ENERGY STAR. label.
Not only are geothermal systems cost-effective and environmentally friendly, they can also make your home more comfortable to live in. Because GHPs do not use any forced-air furnaces or condensing units, they are almost completely silent. Geothermal systems even control humidity naturally, giving you a nice respite from those humid summers in our area. With a geothermal heat pump, your home can be more comfortable and peaceful than it has ever been.
CAN I AFFORD A GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM?
Geothermal heat pumps are a fantastic option for new home constructions. Builders will often work with the buyer to roll the cost of the GHP into the total home cost at a discounted rate. The geothermal system will have very little relative affect on your mortgage.
If you already own a home and are considering converting to a geothermal heat pump but are worried about the financial impact, there may be special loans available to you. Many GHP systems carry the DOE and EPA ENERGY STAR. label, and these systems qualify for loans with lower interest rates and/or longer repayment periods. Banks are partnering with the EPA and the DOE to make geothermal systems easier to purchase.
Ask your contractor about ENERGY STAR. loans or call 1-888-STAR-YES, the EPA's ENERGY STAR. toll free hotline, to determine what options are available to you.