Geothermal FAQ General

How efficient are geothermal systems?

Geothermal systems are one of the most energy efficient residential heating and cooling systems available today, with heating efficiencies 50 to 70% higher than other heating systems and cooling efficiencies 20 to 40% higher than traditional air conditioners. This translates into considerable savings on your utility bills.

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both endorsed ground source heat pump systems as among the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly heating, cooling, and water heating systems available. In a January 2000 study, the EPA concluded the following:

  • the higher cost of geothermal installation is paid off in just three to five years of energy savings,
  • geothermal systems are low in maitenence, operate quietly, are suitable for warm or cold climates, and
  • greatly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

Can one system provide both space heating and cooling for my home? And what about heating hot water?

Yes. Geothermal systems can be a combination heating/cooling and hot water heating system. You can change from one mode to another with a simple switch on your indoor thermostat. Using a desuperheater, some geothermal systems can save you up to 50 percent on your water heating bill by preheating the tank water.

How does a geothermal system heat water for my home?

Using what is called a desuperheater, geo heat pumps use waste heat to heat hot water. During the summer, when the system is in cooling mode, your hot water is produced free as a byproduct of the thermal process. In winter, while in the heating mode, the desuperheater heats a portion of your hot water. Desuperheaters are standard on some units, optional on others. Stand-alone systems that will heat water all year around can be purchased.

How much space does a geothermal system require?

Most of the geothermal system installation is underground. Inside the house, the heat pump units are about the same size as a traditional heating and cooling unit.

How long will my geothermal system last?

Geothermal systems are durable and highly reliable. They contain fewer mechanical components, and all components are either buried in the ground or located inside the home, which protects them from outside conditions. The underground pipe carries up to a 50-year warranty.

How noisy is the geothermal system unit?

Geothermal systems are very quiet, providing a pleasant environment both inside and outside of the home. They have no noisy fan units to disturb outdoor activities like traditional air conditioners.

How safe is a geothermal system?

Geothermal systems are safe and protected. With no exposed equipment outdoors, children or pets cannot injure themselves or damage exterior units. They also have no open flame, flammable fuel or potentially dangerous fuel storage tanks.

Are geothermal systems comfortable?

Geothermal systems move warm air (90-105 F) throughout your home or business via standard ductwork. An even comfort level is created because the warm air is moved in slightly higher volumes and saturates the building with warmth more evenly. This helps even out hot or colds spots and eliminates the cold air blasts common with fossil fuel furnaces.

How effective is the underground geothermal loop system?

The buried pipe, or ground loop, is the most recent technical advancement in heat pump technology. Recently, new heat pump designs and improved buried pipe materials have been combined to make geothermal systems the most efficient heating and cooling systems available.

What is a geothermal heat pump?

A heat pump is a mechanical device used for heating and cooling which operates on the principle that heat can be moved from a warmer temperature to a cooler temperature. A geothermal heat pump uses the earth to provide warmth in the winter and cool us in the summer.  A geothermal heat pump operates just like your refrigerator. If you put your hand behind your frig, you’ll feel the heat that has been removed from the food inside the refrigerator. Geothermal heat pumps use the same principle to move heat to and from the home and the ground.

How does a heat pump work?

The heat pump moves heat from a low temperature source to a high temperature source. The process of elevating low temperature heat to over 100°F and transferring it indoors involves a cycle of evaporation, compression, condensation and expansion. A refrigerant is used as the heat transfer medium which circulates within the heat pump.

The cycle starts as the cold liquid refrigerant passes through a heat exchanger (evaporator) and absorbs heat from the low temperature source (liquid from the ground loop). The refrigerant evaporates into a gas as heat is absorbed. The gaseous refrigerant then passes through a compressor where the refrigerant is pressurized, raising its temperature to over 160º F. The hot gas then circulates through a refrigerant-to-air heat exchanger where heat is removed and pumped into the home at about 100º F. When it loses the heat, the refrigerant changes back to a liquid.

The liquid is cooled as it passes through an expansion valve and begins the process again. To air condition, the flow is reversed.

How is a heat pump sized?

Geomax’s qualified staff will size your heat pump based on an accurate heating and cooling analysis of the home or building. Factors like the type of windows and insulation R. values are taken into account and a BTU per hour heat loss and heat gain will result. The heat pump is then sized for adequate warmth during the coldest winter night and will keep you cool on the hottest summer day.

Can geotheraml systems be used for commercial, industrial, or apartment requirements?

Yes! Many geothermal systems are being installed using a multitude of units hooked up to an array of buried vertical or horizontal loops. This simplifies zone control and internal load balancing.


 

 


 

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Geothermal tax incentives
There are numerous incentives offered for geothermal heating and cooling systems across the United States.
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Compare Geomax units
Use the Geomax comparison chart to compare the five different Geomax geosource heat pumps side-by-side to help you decide which model is right for your application.
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Geomax unit comparison - download PDF brochure.

 

 


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