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Geothermal FAQ

 

What is a geothermal heat pump?

A geothermal heat pump is the lowest cost producer of heating, air conditioning and domestic hot water, all from one unit, per US EPA 430-R-93-004 April 1994.

 

How do heat pumps work?

Geothermal systems use the earth's stored energy and simply transfer it into a home or business for heating, cooling, and hot water generation. These efficient, and economical heating and cooling systems draw in well water, extract energy from it, and transfer heat into your home or business. How is this possible? The staff at Water Energy Distributors has designed thousands of systems and written extensively on geo-thermal issues. To review several technical papers written by Mr. Carl Orio and others please visit the "Technical Data" area of this site.

 

Can I use a heat pump in the city?

Yes, any place you can drill a well you can have a geothermal heat pump system.

 

Is it dangerous?

This is the most environmentally friendly heating unit available. It has the best efficiency. There is NO FLAME and no fossil fuels.

 

Why Buy a Geothermal Heat Pump?

There are several reasons to consider a Geothermal Heat Pump.

  • Comfort: Warm or cool air flows quietly through your home. No more cold spots and drafts other systems create.
  • Efficient Heat & A/C: When measured against other heating systems, the heat pump provides the most energy bang for the buck! The heat pump system produces 3 to 4.0 watts of heating or cooling for every watt of electricity used. This ratio is called the coefficient of performance (COP) and equals 3 to 4. In comparison, oil and gas based systems have efficiencies of less than 100% or COP's of less than 1.
  • Durability & Low Maintenance: Heat pumps have been shown to require 30-50% less maintenance than a fossil fuel-based heating & cooling system. Most geothermal systems will run without any repair maintenance for over 20 years. Simply change the air filter every three months!
  • Low Domestic Water Heating Cost: All residential and many commercial heat pumps use an optional "hot water generator". This circuit can save 50-65% on water heating costs.

 

How much do they Cost?

Cost to install a geothermal heat pump system depends on the heat loss of the building. You can estimate that most installations in new homes will be 10-15% more than an equivalent heating/cooling system. This does not include the added costs for the outside work. Many utilities in the Northeast offer incentives to offset the costs to install geo. Look under your utilities Energy Star Home programs to see what is available.

 

A well-constructed 2,000 square foot home may typically require a 4-ton geothermal heat pump system. Homes constructed to the Federal “Energy Star” ratings will usually require a smaller heat pump. A typical price range to purchase and install a geothermal heat pump system is widely variable. A standard water-to-air heat pump with ductwork may be in the $3,800 to $5,000 per ton range for the “inside” geothermal equipment, about the same cost as a fossil fuel based heating and air conditioning system. This range varies because of construction variables, e.g. ductwork, plumbing and electrical requirements. Duct and well costs maybe the largest variables. Duct costs can vary by as much as +/- $1,000 per ton. If a domestic well is planned for the home, the differential cost for geo maybe small. If employing a “closed loop” earth coupling (not a well) or a dedicated geo well, the costs could be another $1,500 to $2,000 per ton. The “outside” (wells or closed loops) portion of the system is the usual higher geothermal cost factor. Other variables as homeowner’s aesthetics, unique comfort requirements can affect the installed costs. A typical heating and central cooling system can be budgeted, per standard costing guideline, at 6 ½ to 8 per cent of the value of the home. A more costly, but maximum comfort, radiant floor system with summer fan coils driven by water-to-water geothermal heat pump has been termed “a comfort marriage made in heaven”. This type system can be in the $6,000 - $8,000 per ton or higher range. The numbers of individual zones drive the costs higher.

Is the equipment very complicated; can I care for it myself?

The equipment is very simple, but like ANY heating system, it requires a service technician who is certified and/or licensed to work on it. We have over 287 installers in the New England area.

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