Geothermal Heating & Cooling

By Todd Fratzel on Air Conditioning, Energy Conservation

One of the hottest topics today in energy conservation is the use of geothermal heat pump systems. The US Department of Energy estimates that 40,000 geothermal heat pumps are installed each year. These systems have been in use since the 1940’s but have only become popular due to the soaring price of fossil fuels. A typical geothermal heat pump can save an average of between 25% and 50% on yearly heating and cooling costs according to the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium. Most geothermal heat pumps rely on a closed system of vertical or horizontal pipes buried in the ground below the frost line filled with water or a water/antifreeze mixture. These geothermal heat pumps rely on the constant temperature of the earth below the frost line. These systems can generate heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. The picture below is and example of a closed horizontal loop system.

The system works by pumping the water through a heat pump and exchanging the thermal energy into your home. The geothermal heat pumps can even supply hot water for homes. The Energy Star program even offers incentives for new construction utilizing geothermal heat pumps. Some states and even electric utility companies are also offering sizable rebates and discounts for installing the geothermal heat pumps.




About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the author of Tool Box Buzz and Today's Green Construction. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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5 Comments

  1. Duane Craig says:

    We put one of these in this configuration in a custom home I built a fews years ago. For that system we had to dig 5 trenches, each one six feet deep and 125 feet long (something like that, it’s been a while). I’ve also heard though that if you have a well with at least 9 gpm production that you can pull the well water instead of doing the trench system. At that time the company the plumber was working with said the homeowner could expect 50 to 75 percent energy savings.

  2. Sugar Loaf Real Estate says:

    Thats amazing, especially with the rising cost of fossil fuel. This would be an alternative I would consider.

  3. Terry Sprouse (planetabooks.com) says:

    I wonder how long the return on investment would be for installing a geothermal system. It must really be catching on if 40,000 systems were installed last year.

  4. Babbleramamel says:

    We have a geothermal heat system, and our entire electric bill for a 900 sf house never exceeds $150 in the winter–that’s hot water, keeping the thermostat at 74 degrees F (chronically ill person in the home requires it), and being home all day (telecommuting).

    Coil repairs can be interesting, though; most conventional HVAC companies don’t know how to fix them. We had a freon leak 2 years ago and finally found a heating technician who had extensive refrigerator coil experience with commercial systems. He was able to make the repair.

  5. Nolan says:

    The tax rebates and energy savings that it provides makes these systems very affordable now.

    Babbleramamel I’m not sure where you are but there is a company in Florida and Georgia that has extensive experience with installing and repairing geothermal systems. Just visit http://goeggsystems.com

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