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When you discover the vast benefits of geothermal energy, you’ll immediately want to fast-forward to a future version of yourself. Comfortably settled in your forever home on lots of land, flush with cash. Unless, of course, you’re already there.
Geothermal home heating utilizes a simple pump and pipe setup to pull clean energy directly from the Earth’s core straight into your home. Sound too good to be true? Wondering if there’s a hidden catch? You be the judge.
There are many pluses to geothermal energy that may tip your scale in its favor.
Geo-exchange systems tap into and transfer already-existing in-ground energy. Regardless of your home’s geographic location, underground temperatures remain relatively stable, approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Because geothermal pumps automatically source air at this median temperature from the get-go, additional energy necessary to warm or cool your home as desired remains minimal.
Consistency of underground temperatures also help maintain home humidity levels. Geothermal heat pumps naturally preserve a humidity level of 50 percent. This can be especially cost-effective if you live in a humid area.
You can’t really find a more steady source of energy than the ever-present heat of our planet’s core. In fact, friction form Earth’s formation billions of years ago continues to accumulate. Iron-rich and radioactive elements naturally present in the core additionally produce heat as they rise to the surface.
On a global scale, it is believed the energy in our planet will continue to last billions of years. On a personal level, it’s a pretty safe bet your geo-exchange system will enjoy a lifetime of uninterrupted renewable resource use.
Geothermal heat systems can be installed in newly constructed as well as already existing homes. The system itself is universally simple, possessing only three distinct components. Ground piping and the pump itself necessarily require purchase and installation. If you are switching out systems in a current structure, though, pre-existing air delivery ducts can often be reutilized.
Simplicity is one factor that earns geo-exchange the bragging right of low maintenance. Each system utilizes three elements, but only one — the pump — has moving parts. Pumps stand above ground, so they’re easily accessible for repair.
All three components remain protected from outdoor elements. Many system manufacturers award warranties of up to 50 years.
Not to be underestimated, the amount of habitual background noise in our home matters. Sometimes levels are only discernible when an appliance actually stops, which only adds strength to the original argument.
Geothermal systems do not utilize famously humming outdoor condensing units. The indoor air compressor, or pump, normally emits a buzz frequency equal to that of a refrigerator. Pumps are generally in a basement or storage space, separate from common living areas.
Here’s the kicker: Thanks to its efficient utilization of pre-existing energy, geothermal heat can immediately save you money. How much? Between 20-50 percent on cooling and 30-60 percent on heating costs.
This doesn’t even account for additional rebates and tax incentives for system purchase and installation.
Geothermal sounds like a great option — so what are you waiting for? The cons of course. There’s always a flip side.
If you’re prone to sticker shock, maybe it’s best to start with percentage data. For new home construction, geo-exchange system purchase price can run 40 percent more than traditional air exchange systems. Underground pipe placement requires additional financing and depends on many factors, including property configuration and drill accessibility.
In an already-existing home, you can recycle ductwork, but it may need modification. Geothermal heat replacement in a traditional 2,000-square-foot home costs $10,000-$20,000 according to most estimates.
In direct opposition to the simplicity of its design, installation of a geothermal heat system requires distinct specialization. Land drilling and excavation are tasks best left to professionals. Because residential geothermal energy is a relatively new field, few home installers possess apt experience. Given the law of supply and demand, chances are good that those who do will charge handsomely for their service.
Any time a company excavates and drills land, it disturbs our ecosystem. Geothermal energy pipework varies in size and scope based on individual usage, but even the least intrusive options require excessive digging.
Homes on narrow lots utilize pipes that run in vertical loops, necessitating drill depths of up to 400 feet. Homeowners with more land often choose the less expensive excavation option of placing horizontal pipes in underground trenches. However, even this alternative requires a dig depth of 6 feet.
The choice of an underground energy source pays its toll to the provider.
This brings us back to the vision of yourself as a cash-ready, long-term homeowner on ample acreage. Geothermal heat pays for itself over time with minimal maintenance and unlimited future availability. Perhaps the only remaining question is simply that of your timing.