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Geothermal HVAC Myths Busted

1. Geothermal HVAC systems are not considered a renewable technology because they use electricity.

Fact: Geothermal HVAC systems use only one unit of electricity to move up to five units of cooling or heating from the earth to a building.

2. Photovoltaic and wind power are more favorable renewable technologies when compared to geothermal HVAC systems.

Fact: Geothermal HVAC systems remove four times more kilowatt-hours of consumption from the electrical grid per dollar spent than photovoltaic and wind power add to the electrical grid. Those other technologies can certainly play an important role, but geothermal HVAC is often the most cost effective way to reduce environmental impact of conditioning spaces.

3. Geothermal HVAC needs lots of yard or real estate in which to place the polyethylene piping earth loops.

Fact: Depending on the characteristics of the site, the earth loop may be buried vertically, meaning little above-ground surface is needed. Or, if there is an available aquifer that can be tapped into, only a few square feet of real estate are needed. Remember, the water is returned to the aquifer whence it came after passing over a heat exchanger, so it is not “used” or otherwise negatively impacted.

4. Geothermal HVAC heat pumps are noisy.

Fact: The systems run very quiet and there is no equipment outside to bother neighbors.

5. Geothermal systems eventually “wear out.”

Fact: Earth loops can last for generations. The heat-exchange equipment typically lasts decades, since it is protected indoors. When it does need to be replaced, the expense is much less than putting in an entire new geothermal system, since the loop or well is the most pricey to install. New technical guidelines eliminate the issue of thermal retention in the ground, so heat can be exchanged with it indefinitely. In the past, some improperly sized systems did overheat or overcool the ground over time, to the point that the system no longer had enough of a temperature gradient to function.

6. Geothermal HVAC systems only work in heating mode.

Fact: They work just as effectively in cooling and can be engineered to require no additional backup heat source if desired, although some customers decide that it is more cost effective to have a small backup system for just the coldest days if it means their loop can be smaller.

7. Geothermal HVAC systems cannot heat water, a pool, and a home at the same time.

Fact: Systems can be designed to handle multiple loads simultaneously.

8. Geothermal HVAC systems put refrigerant lines into the ground.

Fact: Most systems use only water in the loops or lines.

9. Geothermal HVAC systems use lots of water.

Fact: Geothermal systems actually consume no water. If an aquifer is used to exchange heat with the earth, all the water is returned to that same aquifer. In the past, there were some “pump and dump” operations that wasted the water after passing over the heat exchanger, but those are exceedingly rare now. When applied commercially, geothermal HVAC systems actually eliminate millions of gallons of water that would otherwise have been evaporated in cooling towers in traditional systems.

10. Geothermal HVAC technology is not financially feasible without federal and local tax incentives.

Fact: Federal and local incentives typically amount to between 30 and 60 percent of total geothermal system cost, which can often make the initial price of a system competitive with conventional equipment. Standard air-source HVAC systems cost around $3,000 per ton of heating or cooling capacity, during new construction (homes usually use between one and five tons). Geothermal HVAC systems start at about $5,000 per ton, and can go as high as $8,000 or $9,000 per ton. However, new installation practices are reducing costs, to the point where the price is getting closer to conventional systems under the right conditions.

Factors that help reduce cost include economies of scale for community, commercial, or even large residential applications and increasing competition for geothermal equipment (especially from major brands like Bosch, Carrier, and Trane). Open loops, using a pump and reinjection well, are cheaper to install than closed loops.

Article by Jay Egg originally posted here: https://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/17/10-myths-about-geothermal-heating-and-cooling/

Approximately half the energy used in your home goes for heating and cooling. Beaver Brothers would like to remind you that making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big impact on utility bills, not to mention your wellbeing. Here are a few helpful pointers to get the most out of your heating and cooling system:

  • Change the air filter regularly. Every month check your air filter. If it looks dirty, change it. At the least, change the filter every three months. A clogged filter slows down air flow and makes the system work harder to function, wasting energy.
  • Have an annual pre-season check-up. Summer and winter are the busy seasons for contractors. Check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system each fall. A check-up now may save a costly maintenance bill later.
  • Seal your heating and cooling ducts. Ducts that move air to and from a forced-air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump can be big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent. How do you know if your ducts are faulty? High summer and winter utility bills, stuffy rooms that never really get comfortable, or tangled and kinked flexible ducts in your system are good indicators.

Seal ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and duct connections. After sealing, wrap the ducts in insulation to keep them from getting hot in summer or cold in winter.

  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat, which adjusts the temperature according to programmed settings for different times of the day — is ideal for people away from home for indefinite periods. Pre-programmed settings via a programmable thermostat can save you $180 annually in energy costs.

Spring is on the horizon! And as always, the friendly experienced staff at Beaver Brothers, now in our 94th year of service, is ready to help you with all your heating and air conditioning needs.

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home — typically making up about 54% of your utility bill.

No matter what kind of heating and cooling system you have in your house, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy use for heating and cooling — and reduce environmental emissions — from 20%-50%.

Heating and Cooling Tips

  • Set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer, and — depending on the season — raise or lower the setpoint when you’re sleeping or away from home.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces and air conditioners once a month or as recommended.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if unsure about how to perform this task, contact us.
  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
  • During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • During summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to block the sun’s heat.

Long-Term Savings Tips

  • Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. We will help you find the best energy efficient product for your budget.
  • For furnaces, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR® models on the market that exceed 90% AFUE. For air conditioners, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners. ENERGY STAR models are 14.5 SEER or more.

Winter. For many of us, the season means holiday shopping, hot chocolate, and time spent with friends and family. For those of us who love saving energy, the winter season also means that there are many ways to save money by conserving energy.

Check out these top 10 tips below:

Air seal and insulate your home: you can prevent heat from escaping or cold from entering your home – lowering your heating bills – by insulating and air sealing your home.
Use a programmable thermostat: you can reduce your waste heat by using a programmable thermostat that can reduce the heat at a specific time when you’re away from the home and increase the heat before you get back for dinner.
Install ENERGY STAR doors and windows: doors and windows are places where cold/warm air can easily come through, so by installing energy efficient doors and windows, you can save energy and money with their better quality insulation.
Use LED holiday lights: Light emitting diodes, or LEDs, are at least 75% more efficient and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lights. By using LED holiday lights, you can be at ease knowing that you won’t be spending a bundle to keep those lights on.
Turn off the lights: If you’re out on vacation this winter, you can save energy by making sure the lights are turned off.
Use lighting controls: you can save additional money on your electricity bill by using motion sensor and timer controls.
Lower the water heater: one significant way to reduce energy consumption if you’re away on vacation is to simply lower the water heater. If you’ll be gone three or more consecutive days, set the water heater to the lowest or ‘vacation’ setting if there is one.
Unplug electronics: when you are away, unplug those kitchen appliances, DVDs, TVs, and computers to save energy and money. These electronics, when plugged in, use up energy even when they are turned off.
Use a power strip: if the idea of running around the home to unplug everything is a bit too much, use power strips to plug in multiple appliances, and then turn it all off with the flip of the power strip switch.
Adjust the blinds and curtains: last but not least, another useful way to conserve energy while on vacation is to lower the blinds and curtains. Close your curtains and shades at night to protect against cold drafts; open them during the day to let in warming sunlight.