Rising electricity prices have many homeowners wondering how they can stop spending so much money, especially on heating and cooling their homes. To this end, an increasing number of homeowners are turning to renewable energy sources as a way to reduce and stabilize their energy costs. The decreasing upfront cost of solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewables, as well the the savings they offer over the course of the system's life have made them very attractive to people who are sick of the unpredictability of their electric bill. If you own a home and have felt the sting of high electric bills, particularly in the northeast United States, you have probably at least considered some of these sources of power for your own home.
While solar and wind seem to get all of the press, geothermal is quickly catching on with homeowners. Here are some things you should know before deciding if geothermal heating and cooling is right for your home.
Geothermal financing and incentives
With all of the work that goes into installing a geothermal heat pump or loop, one might think that the upfront costs would be prohibitively expensive. Geothermal, like solar and wind, has had the benefit of falling production and distribution costs thanks to increases in technology, and the savings are increasingly passed on to consumers. According to a report by National Geographic, almost every company offers some form of financing. Additionally, geothermal is the beneficiary of government incentives in many states, just like solar, wind and other renewables. Between financing and incentives, the cost of the system can be reduced by anywhere from 30 to 60 percent.
Geothermal pumps can be much more efficient than gas pumps
Scientific American reported that most gas pumps run at 80 percent efficiency. Electric pumps can run at 100 percent efficiency. But a geothermal heat pump can run at more than 100 percent efficiency. An electric heater might pump 3,400 BTU of heat in an hour, but a geothermal pump can reach levels of up to 15,000 BTU of heat in one hour.
The kind of heat pump you choose depends on your location
A geothermal heat pump that is suitable for someone in Texas will likely be the wrong pump for someone in Maine. National Geographic recommended that homeowners looking to go geothermal should do their research, finding out the parameters that other successful geothermal installations in their geographic area had their pump installed under before choosing the pump that's right for them.