Geothermal heating systems tap into the earth's own abundant natural energy stores, making them one of the most efficient methods of keeping your home warm this winter. However, there is a considerable amount of investment needed in order to switch from your current heating system to a geothermal system that suits your needs. Before you make the switch, you may want to consider the following issues and how they'll affect your installation.
Contrary to popular belief, geothermal heating systems can be used in nearly any type of climate. However, regional differences in climate can have a slight impact on geothermal operation. Living in the cold confines of the northeastern U.S., for instance, calls for a geothermal heat pump with a sizable heating capacity.
Keep in mind that most units are sized to offer just enough heat to maintain a comfortable indoor environment on the coldest day of the year. Contrast that with traditional furnaces, most of which are oversized for the job. Having a backup heating source can help during times when your geothermal heating system needs a helping hand.
Lot sizes are another factor to consider prior to installing your geothermal heating system. Large lot sizes allow for cheaper and more expansive installation of your geothermal HVAC unit, while smaller lots require a more compact installation solution.
Most geothermal HVAC units rely on ground loops that extract heat energy from the ground and bring it back topside. Horizontal loops only require trenching for installation, but this setup takes up more space than vertical loops installed via drilling.
Other alternatives such as horizontal directional drilling can help reduce space usage on small home lots. However, these alternatives may cost significantly more than other, traditional installation methods.
Your area's water quality is also a major concern, especially if you live in areas with so-called "hard" water — water that's high in calcium, magnesium and other minerals. Hard water can cause mineral deposits to build up inside of your plumbing and HVAC equipment, resulting in potentially expensive and time-consuming repairs.
The presence of hard water can influence the type of geothermal heating system you'll choose in the end. Open-loop geothermal systems are less expensive and more practical from an installation and maintenance standpoint, but they're also extremely vulnerable to the effects of hard water. Closed-loop system geothermal heating relies on a self-contained coolant system, completely mitigating the potential effects of your nearby water source. To learn more, speak with an HVAC company like West County Heating and Cooling.