The market for geothermal heat pumps got a big boost this year when the Seattle Public School system decided to install the high-efficiency heat and air conditioning systems in some of their buildings. Seven schools now have or are implementing geothermal heat, with more potentially on the way. The district expects to enjoy about $30,000 per year in savings in buildings that receive the upgrade, freeing up a substantial amount of money in school budgets. That's all well and good for large institutions with huge heat and air conditioning demands, but can the economics of geothermal heat pumps work for individual homeowners as well?

Pay More Now for Savings Later

Geothermal installations are at the forefront of high-end heat and air conditioning systems, but that doesn't mean that they are out of reach for the average American homeowner. While the up-front investment is substantial, reaching tens of thousands of dollars, there are federal tax credits available to rebate as much as one third of the initial cost. Once you do get the system in place, you can realize substantial savings on your heat and air conditioning bills, since the pumps only require a modest amount of electricity to run.

More efficient HVAC technology also means you are reducing your burden on the environment, especially if you switch away from fossil fuels like natural gas or oil heat. While electricity itself is often the product of fossil fuels, you can avoid carbon emissions almost entirely by partnering your heat pump with a solar energy system. Homeowners who do have the money and inclination to upgrade their home energy systems might find the effort to be very rewarding indeed, both economically and ecologically speaking.

Steady Temperatures Deep Within the Earth

How do geothermal systems work, anyway?

“The ground is able to maintain a higher rate of temperature consistency because it absorbs 47 percent of the sun’s energy — heat — as it hits the Earth’s surface,” Microsoft engineer Eugene Luskin said to Queen Anne News. “Geothermal systems are able to tap into this free energy with an earth loop. This technology is then used to provide your home or office with central heating.”

There are also water-based geothermal systems, in which the pump exchanges heat with the steady temperatures found in groundwater or at the bottom of a lake. During the summer, when the ground and water are cooler than the air, the process is reversed and the pump brings cool air into the house, using the excess heat to power the hot water heater or simply dispersing it underground.

Find Out if Geothermal is Right for You

If you want to explore the possibility of installing a geothermal heat and air conditioning system in your home, contact an experienced HVAC professional today.

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