Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing Blog: Archive for the ‘ROI’ Category

Go Geothermal

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Looking for an efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly heating/cooling system? A geothermal heat pump is the greenest way to go.

The basics

Even though the air temperature fluctuates a significant amount over the seasons, the ground absorbs nearly half the suns energy, keeping a more consistent temp under the surface. Geothermal heat pumps take advantage of this fact by employing earth loops– usually closed-system loops made of piping– to tap into stable underground temperatures and deliver heat or cooling when you need it.

These systems work by circulating an antifreeze solution in the loop between the ground source heat pump and your house, exchanging heat and distributing it through a conventional duct system to heat or cool your house.

Geothermal heating

It’s winter and the air outside is at its coldest. A geothermal heat pump system easily absorbs ground heat from the abundant supply stored below your home, and consumes less energy than a traditional pump system in the process.

Geothermal cooling

When warm summer weather rolls around, a geothermal heating and cooling system absorbs heat from your home and transfers it to the underground loop where it is then absorbed by the cooler earth. The geothermal heat pump uses the cool water returning from the ground to create cool, dehumidified air conditioning for your home.

Different kinds of loops

Depending on what your unique space and lifestyle requires, different kinds of earth loops may be installed.

Horizontal Loops Horizontal Loops
Often used when adequate land surface is available. Depending on geothermal system needs and space available, pipes are placed in trenches that range in length from 100 to 400 feet.

Vertical Loops Vertical Loops
The ideal choice for a geothermal heat pump when available land surface is limited. Well drilling equipment is used to bore small-diameter holes from 100 to 400 feet deep.

Pond (Lake) Loops Pond (Lake) Loops
Very economical to install when a large body of water is available for use by the geothermal heating and cooling system. Coils of pipe are simply placed on the bottom of the pond or lake to capture the geothermal energy.

Open loops (Well-Water Systems) Open loops (Well-Water Systems)
In ideal conditions, an open-loop application can be the most economical type of geothermal system. These use groundwater from a well as a direct energy source.

Images and descriptions via

Fun facts

  • An EPA study of energy efficiency concluded geothermal energy is the most environmentally friendly heating/cooling system.
  • The United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that geothermal energy is more efficient and cost-effective compared with conventional residential systems.
  • Available everywhere in the United States, geothermal energy can be found underground virtually anywhere.
  • Geothermal cost savings can be increased by geothermal energy incentives, available from federal, state, local, and utility sources.

Cost comparison

Energy and cost savings of geothermal heat pumps will vary by region and type of conventional system they’re compared with. But the energy cost of geothermal versus conventional HVAC systems will always be lower — and the geothermal system will always be greener.

Click to enlarge.

How much can you save in energy costs with a geothermal system? Calculate your home’s potential geothermal system cost savings

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Understanding Heat Pump Efficiency

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Heat pumps can be much more efficiency than other systems. Here in the Northwest, a heat pump can have an efficiency starting at 300%, while electric heating systems have an efficiency of 100%. Oil heat systems range in efficiency from 50% to 85%. Natural gas systems range in efficiency from 50% to 95%.

The efficiency of a heat pump is indicated by Coefficient of Performance or COP. The COP is the ratio of what you get in heat energy from the heat pump divided by what you pay for in electric energy to provide that heat. For example, a COP of 3.0 means for every dollar’s worth of heat delivered to your home, you only need to buy $0.33 worth of electricity. With standard heat pumps, as the outdoor temperature decreases, the efficiency and COP of a heat pump decreases. When the outdoor air temperature is 47 degrees, many heat pumps work with COPs in the range of 3 to 3.8. At 17 degrees, COPs are typically 2.8 to 3.4. The higher the COP, the more efficient the heat pump.

In the Pacific NW, a properly sized and well-installed heat pump will have an average COP of 2.75 over the course of a heating season. (Based on Base Model Efficiency)

There are other factors which reduce the efficiency of a heat pump throughout the heating season. For instance, a heat pump’s outdoor coils periodically need to be defrosted. This is done by reversing the cycle of the heat pump so that the heat from the house thaws the ice accumulated on the coils.

Efficiency is further reduced whenever the back-up heating system is used. This back-up system can be electric, natural gas or oil and is required during times when the outside temperature is so low that the heat pump is not able to provide enough heat for the house. This is called the balance point.

Heat pumps are also rated by a measurement call the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), which estimates the heat output relative to the energy consumed for the entire heating season. The higher the HSPF the less energy you will need to operate the heat pump. An HSPF of 8 corresponds approximately to an average COP of 3.

Posted by Wes Diskin

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