Heating and AC With Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal Heat and AC  |  Wood Heat  |  Passive Solar Heat  |  Home Insulation  |  Types of Energy Loss  |  4 Ways to Save Heat

My friend Donald of Duluth, MN lives in a fairly large older ranch style 4+ bedroom home. His heating costs, even in the days of $1.20/gallon home heating oil, were in the thousands of dollars each year. So he decided to take the big step of going with geothermal heat. I say "big" because this was a $22,000 investment! He was able to finance this investment through a low-interest energy loan program provided by the state of Minnesota. So, despite the high cost, he will recover this investment in about 7 years or less at today's oil prices. His current heating and AC costs have been greatly reduced.

How Does Geothermal Heat and AC Work?

Geothermal works much like a refrigerator; it collects heat from the ground and transfers it to your home in much the same way your refrigerator removes heat from food and sends out the heat via the fans in back of the refrigerator - notice how much heat your frig produces on a hot summer day? And in the summer, a geothermal system will send the heat from inside through the cold surrounding earth. For more information, see this page on Geothermal Heat Pumps at Wikipedia and this page illustrates the heat transfer.

Besides High Initial Costs, What Are Drawbacks?

Probably the drawback that would concern one the most, as cited by this home-inspection web site, is the eventual possibility of an underground (or underwater) leak. The leaks, however, may be isolated and shut off from the system while a repair is made, according to this TVA web site. Also, the TVA site claims that the piping has a 30-50 year life span. One could conclude that at about the 30-year mark, a major (and perhaps costly) overhaul would perhaps be needed.

More advantages and disadvantages of geothermal heat pumps are given here.

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