Modern geothermal HVAC systems have been around for decades, though their popularity in Maryland and throughout the U.S. has increased significantly in recent years. As sustainability awareness grows and utility rates increase, homeowners seek high energy efficiency options to lower heating and cooling costs while reducing the environmental impact of their residences.
Compared to other home heating and cooling systems, geothermal can be quite expensive – leading homeowners to ask, “Is geothermal heating and cooling worth it?”
How Geothermal HVAC Systems Work
Geothermal HVAC systems provide space heating and cooling to a home by moving heat between the ground or water and the home’s air. The system uses three key components: the ground loop, geothermal heat pump, and distribution system.
- The ground loop is a tubing system that is either buried below ground or submerged in a body of water close to the home. Fluid circulates through the loop tubing to move heat between the house and the ground or water. Ground loops can be either open-loop or closed-loop systems: open-loop systems are open-ended and pull fluid directly from a surface body of water or well as a means of heat exchange, while closed-loop systems contain an antifreeze liquid solution that circulates through the loop and heat pump. Closed loops are installed horizontally or vertically underground or within a water source.
- The geothermal heat pump, also called a ground-source heat pump, operates a refrigeration cycle to transfer heat between the home’s air and the ground or water source. The geothermal heat pump contains a water pump, heat exchanger coils, a compressor, a thermal expansion valve, a reversing valve, and a blower (in forced air systems). This unit is installed indoors, and there is no outdoor unit installed next to the home as with split system air-source heat pumps.
- The distribution system is the equipment used to carry heat to living areas in the home. Many geothermal HVAC systems use ductwork and exchange heat between the loop fluid and the air indoors. Other options include a water-to-water geothermal heat pump that transfers heat between fluid sources for use in radiant floor heating systems.
Is Geothermal Heating and Cooling Worth It in Terms of Efficiency?
Geothermal HVAC systems can be 400 to 500 percent energy efficient. Is geothermal heating and cooling worth it based on that? Most people would say yes, considering the most efficient furnaces and boilers are only up to 97% efficient.
How are these HVAC systems able to offer such highly efficient performance compared to traditional heating and air conditioning systems?
- They don’t create heat; they transfer it. There are no fossil fuels wasted through combustion. The temperatures below ground level stay steady year-round, providing plenty of energy for use heating the home.
- They deliver more units of energy than they use. For every unit of electrical power consumed to run the equipment, the system delivers 4 to 5 units of energy for heating or cooling. The most efficient electric furnace options are 100 percent efficient, but they cannot produce more heat energy than the energy they use up to operate.
More Geothermal HVAC Perks
Superior energy efficiency isn’t the only bonus you get when you install a geothermal cooling and heating system. Here are more of the great perks they offer:
- Reduce heating and cooling costs 20 to 70 percent, depending on the type of cooling and heating equipment you replace with geothermal.
- Gain better indoor humidity control compared to conventional cooling equipment. Geothermal systems remove more moisture from the air, condensing vapor to liquid and draining it via the heat pump. With a geothermal system alone, you can keep relative humidity levels balanced between 30 to 50 percent.
- Save money by claiming the renewable energy tax credit when you install a qualifying geothermal heat pump and system components. For new geothermal heating and cooling systems installed before January 1, 2023, you can claim 26 percent of qualifying costs, lowering the overall cost of this investment.
Is Geothermal Heating and Cooling Worth It? We Think So!
Is geothermal heating and cooling worth it to install in Maryland homes? We think the energy savings and other benefits speak for themselves! Contact us today to request a geothermal HVAC system installation estimate and learn more about these highly efficient solutions.