Here's a secret for people looking for a new idea to reduce their gas and electricity bills: You can take care of your home heating and cooling needs with nothing but a little water. Well, water and a heat pump. If you live close enough to a body of water, you can take advantage of moderate underwater temperatures to heat and cool your house on the cheap. Read on to find out more about this money and pollution-saving technology.
The Magic of Fluids
Water-source heat pumps are really a modified form of geothermal heat pumps. The principle is essentially the same; since the temperatures underground and under water are more moderate than air temperatures, you can use the difference to heat and cool your home.
The water-source heat pump works by circulating fluid through a series of tubes that extend out to the body of water. In the summer, the bottom of the lake or river will be cooler than the air, and vice versa in wintertime. When the fluid is pumped back into the house, a heat exchanger uses it to treat your indoor air to the desired temperature. Many heat pumps also hook into your hot water heater to supplement or replace its fuel source.
You might even be able to install a water-source heat pump if there's not a visible body of water nearby – a well or underground reservoir can work as well.
Big Investment, Big Savings
Why bother replacing your old central air unit and forced-air furnace? Though heat pumps do require electricity to run, they are far more efficient than most conventional HVAC gear. That means you can save big money over time, since heating and cooling is by far the largest utility expense in most households. Furthermore, you can reduce your impact on climate change by consuming fewer fossil fuels.
Water-source heat pumps don't come cheap. All told, drilling down to reach the water and installing the pipes, heat exchanger and other equipment can cost tens of thousands of dollars. However, there are federal tax credits that can reduce the upfront costs, and with the savings you realize on your heating and cooling bills, you can actually come out ahead in the long run. The exact cost benefit calculation depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your home, your normal heating fuel source, the local climate and more.
Take Your Savings to the Limit
If you want to further investigate the possibility of buying a water-source heat pump, check out the federal Energy Star listings to choose between the most efficient models. After all, if you want to save energy, you might as well go all the way. Once you've done your initial research, call up your local HVAC technician for an evaluation of your property so you can decide if a heat pump is right for you. Your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® can help with all you heating and cooling questions.