Direct exchange geothermal installations reduce the amount of energy and money used to heat and cool homes. Geothermal heat pumps are also an energy efficient means of heating water, reducing the amount of water wasted down the drain at the kitchen sink or in the shower.
Geothermal systems are the most efficient, greenest, and least costly means of heating and cooling the average home.
How Direct Exchange Geothermal Installations Work
By installing a geothermal system beneath your home, your water supply remains at a moderate temperature. Because ground temperature is cooler than the air during summer, and warmer than the air during winter, it takes less time and energy to heat or cool the water you use inside your home for everyday tasks.
Direct exchange geothermal installations also work by supplying cool or warm air to the inside of your home through the same process. Copper tubing carries an environmentally friendly antifreeze solution that circulates in and out of your home. Heat exchange occurs via a compressor unit, and the resulting cooled or heated air then returns to your home through an air handler. Your existing duct work distributes the cooled or heated air throughout your home. This significantly reduces the work of your heater or air-conditioning unit.
Advantages of Geothermal Installation
Utilizing the natural temperature of the earth offers both environmental and financial benefits. Homes with geothermal heating and cooling systems use less energy and consume fewer natural resources. A geothermal system removes the hot or cold air from your home and cools or warms it to the temperature of the surrounding soil. In many cases, no additional heating or cooling is required. Over time, the amount of electricity or natural gas saved through geothermal heating and cooling is enormous.
Using less electricity and gas also means lower monthly utility bills. Plus, with recent focus on environmentally friendly home improvements by the government, homeowners who install geothermal systems may qualify for considerable tax breaks and incentives.
Disadvantages of Geothermal Installation
While the advantages of direct exchange geothermal installations are difficult to ignore, there are a number of disadvantages to installing this type of system in your home. Geothermal systems cost substantially more to install than traditional heating and cooling systems, with average units priced at nearly 8,000 dollars. This cost recurs every 10 to 20 years, when the heat pump requires replacement. For many homeowners, this is not financially possible.
Installation of the system is difficult, lengthy, and expensive, and often requires the coordination of construction crews, environmental personnel, and architects. Depending on location, installing a geothermal system may not be possible. Some homeowners may be unable to obtain permits due to the location of their home. Because of the complexity of the system beneath the ground, home expansion may not be possible following installation.
Direct Exchange vs Water-Based Systems
Unlike water-based geothermal systems, direct exchange systems require only one transfer for heat exchange and use copper tubing, which is more efficient than the plastic tubing used in water-based geothermal systems. Water-based systems use approximately twice as much energy to work, require the use of a circulating pump, and have higher installation and excavation costs than direct exchange systems.
Direct Exchange Home Installation
Installation of a geothermal system is challenging even for experienced professionals. In many cases, laws prevent homeowners from installing large systems beneath their homes. Fortunately, numerous agencies can help you locate an installer in your area. The U.S. Department of Energy website is an excellent place for information on geothermal energy and offers resources to assist in your search for a trained installation professional. You can also call your local utility company for more information.