In my last several posts, I’ve provided basic information about some programs offered through the State of Massachusetts and the US Department of Energy that can help homeowners in Boston install efficient heating and cooling equipment, update existing heating and cooling systems to make them more efficient, and help reduce the overall cost of heating and cooling a Boston home.
Some heating and cooling systems have the potential to save a great deal of money, but at the same time, they cost a lot of money to install. A geothermal heat pump is one such system. A geothermal heat pump doesn’t rely on outside air to heat and cool your home. Instead, this special type of heating and cooling equipment uses the constant temperature of the Earth as a heat source in the winter and a cooling source in the summer. Coils of wire that are connected to a heat pump are placed into the earth. The soil acts as an exchange medium, extracting heat from your home in the summer and drawing in heat to your home in the winter. Coil systems can be either “open loop” or “closed loop.”
A geothermal heat pump is exceptionally efficient. In some areas, a geothermal heat pump can eliminate the need for supplemental heating. Most geothermal pumps have an efficiency rating of 300%-600% even in the coldest temperatures. There are several different kinds of geothermal heat pump systems, and some systems combine a geothermal heat pump along with a conventional heat pump for high-efficiency at a lower cost than a regular geothermal system.
Depending upon how your geothermal system is laid out, your system may have closed coils that extend horizontally from your home, buried in trenches around your home at depths of 4-6 feet. Most home systems are laid out with horizontal ground loops. In some cases – mostly for commercial buildings or larger installations like schools – a vertical orientation for the ground loops because a horizontal layout for the exchange coils would either take up too much room or would seriously disturb the landscaping around the building during the installation process. In other designs, water from a pond can be used as an exchange medium.
Currently, the Department of Energy is offering a 30% credit with no upper limit for geothermal heat pump systems that are installed into new or existing homes between now and 2016. Unlike most other credits that apply only to a primary residence, this credit can be used for both primary and secondary residences.
Geothermal heating systems can be very expensive. A geothermal heat pump is about twice the cost of a conventional heat pump, but the real costs are incurred during the installation. If a geothermal heat pump is out of your range, even with the 30% credit, contact Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating. We have a number of highly cost-effective options that can help you save significantly on your heating and cooling costs.