10 Advantages of Geothermal Energy

advantages of geothermal
“What are the advantages of geothermal?” is a legitimate question to ask, especially given the costs of installing a geothermal system. Especially if you are considering investing in a ground-source HVAC system, you need to know what your hard-earned dollars are actually going to deliver. Let's take a look at the major advantages of geothermal energy to show you the full picture.

1. Geothermal Is Good for the Environment

One of the main advantages of geothermal HVAC systems is that much of the benefit comes from the ground around your home. It does not require fossil fuel combustion to create heat. This reduces overall emissions produced in the atmosphere. That's why ground-source heat pumps produce almost zero additional pollution, so you can sleep better at night, knowing you are doing your small part to reduce our environmental impact.

2. Geothermal Is Cheaper

It is possible to achieve savings of almost 60 percent when compared to conventional energy. A geothermal heat pump uses one unit of energy to transfer three units of heat from the earth, making it incredibly efficient. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), your annual energy-savings should be somewhere between 30 and 60 percent. They break down these costs to a saving of between 30 and 70 percent on heating and 20 to 50 percent on cooling. It translates to a yearly saving of between $400 and $1,500. Studies show that the average American lives in one home for 13 years. It means that over that same period, you will recoup your initial outlay. Given that geothermal systems last 25 years plus, and the coils can last up to 50 years, the system will return over double what you paid and still save you 60 percent each year on your energy costs. In this case, the financial advantages of geothermal are clear.

3. Geothermal Is Reliable

A ground-source heat pump is constant and predictable, unlike solar and wind power. You do not have to rely on weather conditions to generate energy because the temperature below the frost line stays at a steady 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. And the great news is, it is available all year long.

4. Geothermal Energy Cost Is Stable

We’ve all seen the price of oil and gas rise and fall on the international markets. We’ve seen the large oil-producing countries threaten to massage the cost of their crude oil to benefit themselves. Geothermal energy is the complete opposite. It doesn’t dance to the tune of wars and world disasters. It is constant and stable. Combined with solar or other alternative energy, the stability advantages of geothermal are undeniable. After the initial installation costs, whatever energy you produce is yours and not subject to the impact of outside forces.

5. Geothermal Is Unobtrusive

Conventional heat pumps and air conditioning units are unsightly and often ruin the look of the exterior of your property. People go to great lengths to disguise them. What are the aesthetic advantages of geothermal? Much of the internal workings of the system are buried beneath your feet. Plus, the heat pump itself is typically located inside, preserving it from the elements and keeping it out of sight.

6. Geothermal Is Quiet

Conventional heat pumps are noisy. Most of us have experienced the continuous hum of a heat pump and know that it can become annoying when trying to get on with your daily life. Geothermal energy comes from the earth and is super-quiet. Much of system is buried underground, so you won’t suffer the noise generated by compressors and fans. You can sit back and enjoy your new quiet environment, while still enjoying the same level of heat and cool air.

7. Geothermal Is Independent

Businesses operate on a supply and demand basis. Energy companies need your monthly payments to keep on rolling in. With geothermal energy, of course, you still need electricity. However, you are doing two other things. First, you are making the electricity you use more efficient. Second, you can entirely cut out your reliance on fossil fuel combustion for winter heating. What if the cost of heating oil skyrockets? It won't affect you. Even if the cost of electricity itself increases, you are more efficient than other homeowners, so you have insulation against rising prices.

8. Geothermal Is Safe

The idea that combustion is the source of most American’s heat and cooling is mind-blowing. Every furnace burns gas or oil to create energy, and there are risks with this system. A gas furnace is a dangerous device if not maintained. They can leak carbon monoxide, which is a silent killer. Every year, approximately 430 people die as a result of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. According to the National Center for Environmental Health, the number of people visiting emergency units as a result of CO poisoning is about 50,000 people every year. There are no such concerns with geothermal energy. It is stable, safe, and requires no combustion to create energy. This means there is zero risk to your family of carbon monoxide poisoning. In this regard, the safety advantages of geothermal are obvious.

9. Geothermal Is Future-Proof

While we accept that geothermal will develop and advance, currently, it is at the cutting edge in energy technology for your home. Why invest in an outdated, fossil-fuel burning furnace, which has a serviceable shelf-life of half the time of a geothermal system? And once again, we come back to energy costs; gas and oil will only increase in price, making your furnace a potentially bad investment. It could even be that fossil fuels will be consigned to history as we switch to renewable energy. The UK announced on June 9th, 2020, that they had not burned coal for two months to produce power. Plus, as technology improves, the opportunity to enhance or upgrade your geothermal unit will arise. With a system already installed, making modifications will be easier.

10. Geothermal Is Easy To Maintain

Unlike gas furnaces, which require intensive maintenance programs, geothermal is relatively easy to maintain. There are few moving parts, so the instances of malfunctions are lower. Also, the ground loops have a life expectancy of around 40 to 50 years, and the heat pump has about 25 years. When you compare that to a standard heat pump, you see that the advantages of geothermal systems are more robust and have a better lifespan.

Final Thoughts on the Advantages of Geothermal Energy

If there was a way that we could all improve our energy efficiency, reduce emissions, while at the same time cutting our reliance on the big energy conglomerates, we’d all want that wouldn't we? Geothermal energy delivers all these things and more. The only question mark is the cost and whether you have enough land to sink the coils. So, if you are considering making that investment, look at what geothermal gives back.
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These are excellent points; however, I have a few comments or questions" 1. How long does the air-handler and its coil last in a geothermal HP? Do they last longer than any other kind of heat pump coil? 2. How are leaking buried coils repaired? 3. Most of us are dependent on our electric company and the rates they charge. We have little, if any, choice. Where I live, the electric company made a 180-degree turn and has decided to migrate to 100 percent green energy in 30 years at a cost of nearly $20 billion. The company wrote off at least $6 billion in fossil costs and abandoned at least $6 billion more in abandoned or mothballed fission projects. Ratepayers pay for all of this, and electricity costs are predicted to quadruple over the next 30 years more than they would absent switching to green sources. There's also a mandate to electrify vehicular transport over the same time. This will substantially increase electricity demand for which neither generation nor transmission capacity is available. The costs to accommodate this boosted demand not included in the above numbers.
Dan Danowski
1. Not being exposed to the elements helps increase their lifespan. They also tend to be made of better quality material than lower cost central air systems. Of course, this lifespan also assumes regular maintenance. 2. A buried geothermal loop generally does not leak. They are high-density polyethylene. The only way they would leak was if something pierced them.
Mrs. Clarence McDaniel
*"A buried geothermal loop generally does not leak. They are high-density polyethylene." In our area the Chinese Elm trees pierce all types of plumbing. I was advised to bury some 6"s of salt on either side of any plumbing pipe as a deterrent to having tree roots pierce them. The idea of Geothermal intrigues me. You mention regular maintenance. Is that a yearly thing? How much is this maintenance going to cost me? The furnace that I had caught fire. It is a miracle that it didn't burn my house down. Somehow the fire was contained to the closet. If you had one of these systems, could you run a water heater off of it? I'm in need of a furnace and would love to get more information
Dan Danowski
You should schedule annual maintenance for any HVAC system you have, geothermal or otherwise. It's just a good idea to have a professional inspect the equipment about once a year to make sure everything is in working order. As to how much that will cost? That's entirely up to whatever local service you hire. Rates do vary, but, generally speaking, annual maintenance rates are not too expensive. Plus, they can save you a lot of money down the road when they head of big problems. In terms of running a water heater off of geothermal, there is an accessory called a desuperheater that allows a homeowner to get usable hot water as a byproduct of geothermal operation. For more information, please give us a call at 270-575-9595. You can talk to our in-house geothermal expert, Jacob, at extension 103.
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