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Geothermal heating is a newer type of heating technology that is quickly gaining in popularity. Its ability to harness the power of the earth can potentially result in energy-efficient heating and cooling. If you are interested in learning a little more about what it is and how it works, check out this FAQ guide.

What Is a Geothermal HVAC System?

A geothermal system is a type of HVAC system that can both cool and heat your home. Geothermal systems are all heat pumps, a sort of system that works by transferring heat away from your home to cool it down or transferring heat to your home to warm it up. A geothermal heat pump is powered by electricity, but it also has a cable running underneath the house that transfers heat back and forth. Unlike heaters that actually make heat, a geothermal system just moves heat around to heat your home. This results in very efficient heating and cooling, so you get some impressive energy savings.

How Does Geothermal Heating Work?

Geothermal heat pumps rely on the fact that underground temperatures remain relatively stable. Even just a few feet below the earth’s surface, the temperature is drastically warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Geothermal systems have a cable filled with circulating fluid that runs through the earth near your home. This fluid captures the extra heat found below ground in winter, bringing it up to your home to warm the air. In summer, the fluid absorbs heat from the air in your home and releases it into the cooler earth. The system uses a little electricity to cycle fluid and regulates temperatures, but it does not have to burn fuel to actually produce heat as other heating systems do. Since it is just using residual heat within the earth, the system requires far less energy.

What Is the Geothermal Heat Pump Installation Process?

When you are ready to convert your property to a geothermal system, you will need to install both an interior and an underground system. The interior system works just like a regular HVAC, using ducts, fans, and thermostats to blow warm or cool air all over the home. If your house already has this part installed, it may just need a few quick conversions. The main part of the installation will be installing the ground heat exchanger. This is a system of pipes that needs to be buried underneath the ground. In homes currently under construction, the pipework may be laid underneath the home’s foundation. In homes that are already built, it may be installed next to your house. Overall, the heat pump installation usually takes about five to seven days. If you also need ductwork installed inside, it may take an extra couple of weeks to finish everything.

How Deep Do You Have to Dig for Geothermal Heating Installation?

This will depend on what type of cable system you pick. Horizontal closed-loop systems are cables that are placed in a flat, horizontal, rectangular pattern. They usually just need to be buried about six to eight feet deep. A vertical closed-loop system has just a few loops of cable going straight down. The borehole for this type of system needs to be around 300 to 450 feet deep.

What Is the Price of Installing a Geothermal Heat System?

The cost varies quite a bit depending on what sort of system you want to install and how large your home is. Expect to pay somewhere between $12,000 to $40,000 to install your geothermal system which is roughly 40% pricier than a traditional HVAC install. This might seem like a lot, but remember your heating and cooling bills will drop sharply. Most homeowners recoup the cost of installation within four to 15 years. The high prices are due to the fact that a geothermal heat pump requires complex equipment and specialized knowledge to install properly.

How Much Energy Will a Geothermal Heat System Save?

Geothermal heat pump systems end up saving you money in the long run because of their impressive energy savings. On average, geothermal heating saves you about 30% to 60% on your heating bills. It also saves you about 20% to 50% on your cooling bills. Depending on your local fuel and electric prices, this can result in hundreds of dollars saved each year. If you were using gas or oil to fuel your home before, you may notice that your electric bill is slightly higher. This is just because geothermal systems use a small amount of electricity to keep everything moving. The cost to power the system is still far lower than the cost of running an electric, gas, or other fuel-based heaters.

How Long With a Geothermal Heat Pump Last?

Another perk of geothermal heating is that it is an incredibly long-lived system. Most systems are under warranty for at least 20 years and continue to operate long after that. The loop of cable inside the ground lasts up to 50 years, and the indoor part of the system lasts around 25 years. This means you do not have to replace it as frequently as traditional heaters that only last about 15 years. Furthermore, the ground loop is the pricy part to install, and it can easily last the entire time you live in a home.

What Sort of Maintenance Does a Geothermal Heat System Require?

Geothermal heating systems have far fewer maintenance needs than other HVAC systems. Many systems are a sealed system that keeps everything circulating for years without requiring any extra fluid or other changes. There are few moving parts, so the likelihood of anything failing is very low. Usually, the only thing you need to do is change the filter on your air return vent a few times a year.

Do Geothermal Heat Pumps Also Provide Humidity Control?

Just like a traditional HVAC system, geothermal heating also assists with humidity control. It typically removes humidity from the air, keeping mold and mildew from growing. Whether it is heating or cooling, geothermal heat pumps tend to hold your relative indoor humidity at around 50%. This is ideal for both inhibiting mold growth and maintaining personal comfort.

How Loud Are Geothermal Heaters?

Geothermal heating systems are much quieter than traditional air conditioners and heaters. Since there are no blasting furnaces or constantly humming air condensers, you will hear barely any noise. There may be some light sound from fan speed, but it is usually so quiet you may not even be able to tell when your geothermal heater is running. This makes geothermal heaters ideal for noise-sensitive people.

If you have any other questions about a geothermal heat system, Summit Heating & A/C is here to answer them! Our team can help you decide if geothermal heating is right for your home and assist you with the installation. We also provide Denver residents with a variety of other installations, repairs, and maintenance on all sorts of HVAC systems. Give us a call to go ahead and schedule your next appointment.