Ground Source/Geothermal – Facts and Fiction

When trying to maximize the efficiency and performance of a residential HVAC system, most homeowners turn to the popular options first. Instead, they should consider geothermal HVAC systems, which can beat out most conventional systems in terms of performance and efficiency. Many homeowners are scared away from these systems based on a few common myths that surround them.

How Geothermal Works

A geothermal heat pump transfers heat energy between the inside and outside, like a regular air-source heat pump, but has an important difference. It removes heat from the ground and brings it inside for efficient heating, and does the opposite for cooling – removing heat from the home and “rejecting” it into the ground. A system of pipes – also called a loop system – is buried underground or submerged in water. A fluid mixture, usually water/anti-freeze, transfers the heat energy between inside and outside. A high-efficiency heat pump unit inside actually accomplishes the heat exchange inside the house, with its air handler delivering conditioned air throughout your home.

The reason a geothermal system improves so well on the efficiency of its air source cousin is that the temperature several feet underground is relatively consistent, between 45 and 60 degrees, unlike the outside air, which can be much warmer or colder depending on the season. It takes much more energy to extract heat from subfreezing air than the moderately cool ground, or to expel heat into very hot air in the summer.

Geothermal Myths Debunked

Here are six common geothermal myths and the actual truth of the matter:

  1. They Consume Water. A water mixture is used as a heat transfer agent in the loop system, but isn’t actually consumed or wasted in the closed system.
  2. Used for Heating Only. Like most heat pumps, a geothermal system can be used to heat or cool your home. 
  3. Noisy Operation. The indoor heat pump unit is engineered to be very quiet. There’s no outside compressor making noise.
  4. Longevity Issues. Geothermal systems have two main components. The underground loop system can last 50 years, while the indoor heat pump unit, protected from the elements, can last 20 years.
  5. Installation Limited To Only Large Land Tracts. As an alternative to a horizontal loop system, a vertical loop system can be used in smaller land tracts.
  6. Are cost-prohibitive. The cost of these systems are affordable for many homeowners, both because the operating costs are so much less than conventional HVAC systems, but also because tax credits and incentives can defray the initial purchase price (including a 30 percent federal tax credit for qualifying systems).

To find out more information about the feasibility of a geothermal HVAC system in your Greater Kansas City home, please contact us at Overland Park Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Overland Park, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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