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geothermal heat pump environmental impact

Geothermal Heat Pump Environmental Impact


You’re trying to do right by the environment, but you also want modern heating and cooling. You’ve thought about geothermal heat pumps, but you still have questions. These systems obviously interact with the ecosystem in some way, but what is the real geothermal heat pump environmental impact?


Are they truly ‘green-tech’ or is that all a load of guff?


Geothermal Heat Pump Environmental Impact in Brief


Sweating while you exercise is great. Sweating while you’re trying to go to sleep or help the kids with their homework is not. Improving the environment is one thing, but being absolutely miserable in your own home is quite another.


Unfortunately, our home comfort has a major impact on the environment. Many households spend as much as 70% of their monthly electricity consumption on their HVAC system. Which means that 70% of the fossil fuels burned for that household went to keeping them comfy.


Of course, since you’re here, you know that all is not lost. Geothermal heat pumps offer a way to maintain the heating and cooling comfort you desire while you reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.


Or that’s the line you hear from geothermal heat pump promoters like us. Is it actually true?


Are geothermal heat pumps really that green?


Fortunately, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.”


Geothermal heat pumps are an excellent way to reduce your own environmental impact while you stay comfortable. Just about every home in the country would reduce their energy consumption if they made they switch. Some would save as much as 70-80% of the electricity they use on a monthly basis.


70-80% is a lot and, admittedly, is a best case scenario.


Let’s be more conservative. Let’s say the average homeowner would only save half that – around 40%. Can you imagine the geothermal heat pump environmental impact if we could reduce the emissions of half the households in the U.S. by 40%?


Talk about massive.


And, yes, geothermal heat pumps do require electricity. Burning fossil fuels to power geothermal is still ‘dirty’. However, unlike natural gas furnaces or fuel oil boilers, geothermal heat pumps do not require fossil fuels. Nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy will all power geothermal heat pumps just as efficiently as coal or oil.


If we want to reach a green future, geothermal heat pumps offer a legitimate fast lane.


geothermal heat pump financial benefits

Geothermal Heat Pump Financial Benefits


Are you interested in geothermal heat pump financial benefits?


Hold on. Let’s start over. If you don’t want to save money, raise your hand. Okay, no one. Now that we’ve got that settled, we can move on.


Geothermal Heat Pump Financial Benefits & You!


Let’s start with a simple question: How many times do you pay for an HVAC system? If you said, “Once,” you’re wrong.


You probably think about HVAC in terms of the money you spent to buy the system. But! You don’t pay once for heating and air – you pay many times. Yes, you have to pay for the initial purchase and installation, but then you’ll pay again every single month.


I’m not talking about any hidden fees; I’m talking about your utility bill.


Air cooling is a very energy intensive process. Which is why you shouldn’t think of your HVAC system in terms of a single, up-front cost. Every month you have to buy energy to keep your unit running should be factored into your budget.


What To Do About It


So what can you do? There are some basic things that will help you manage expenses.


1. Keep your filters clean. Not only will this help your unit maintain peak efficiency, but it will prevent mechanical breakdown.


2. Insulate, insulate, insulate. Conditioned air escaping the building means your unit works harder than it should.


3. Not going to be home for a while? Set the cooling point on a higher temperature.


4. Take advantage of monumental geothermal heat pump financial benefits.


Cut Your Expenses


Geothermal heat pumps are among the most energy efficient HVAC systems ever developed. They rely on buried heat to maintain unparalleled operating efficiency every day of the year.


Which is great, but how does that capability translate into raw geothermal heat pump financial benefits?


Most geothermal heat pump owners see their utility costs drop after they make the switch. Some reduce their expenses by as much as 70% – that’s a lot. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates most new geothermal heat pump pay off their installation costs in 5-10 years from utility savings alone. That’s not even counting all the incentive and grant programs geothermal heat pump owners can claim when they make use of renewable energy technology.


So…who wants to save money?


what are geothermal heat pumps

What Are Geothermal Heat Pumps Anyway?


You know you need a new HVAC system. Obviously, you head to Google to start searching. You come across some air conditioners and heat pumps and…geothermal heat pumps? What are geothermal heat pumps?


Don’t worry. Your friends here at GeoCool know exactly what geothermal heat pumps are, what they do, and how best to use them.


We’ll even be happy to share our knowledge with you, dear reader.


What Are Geothermal Heat Pumps?


They’re magic!


Okay, not really.


A geothermal heat pump, sometimes called a ground-source heat pump, is a tool you can use to heat and cool your home. Honestly, geothermal units share a lot of similarities with conventional air conditioning systems. They rely on the same basic principles, and use many of the same components.


There are, of course, significant differences.


Ground-Source Versus Air-Source


Let’s start with air conditioners. Your good old-fashioned air conditioner uses a chemical refrigerant to remove heat from inside your house. A fan pulls this air into the system, removes the heat, pipes the heat outside the house, then lets it go into the atmosphere.


Pretty simple.


Air-source heat pumps run this cycle backwards to provide heat in cold weather conditions. Instead of pulling heat from your home and exhausting it, air-source heat pumps pull heat from the ambient air, then pump it into the house.


There is one catch though.


As you probably already know, the air outside can get very, very cold in winter. There’s always some heat still there. After all, even Minnesota in January is not deep space, but as the temperature drops it gets harder and harder for an air-source heat pump to capture that heat.


Which leads us back to the question: What are geothermal heat pumps?


Subterranean Heat

Geothermal heat pumps do not rely on the Earth’s atmosphere. Instead, ground-source units tap a buried loop network to draw heat from the Earth’s crust. You don’t have to dig down very deep before you encounter an environment that maintains a relatively stable temperature all year long. While the snow might be piling up on the surface, it’s nice and cozy six feet under.


This means that no matter what the weather conditions, a geothermal heat pump operates at peak efficiency every single day of the year.


Which is pretty awesome.


geothermal tax credit

Grab Your Geothermal Tax Credit Before It’s Gone


Have you claimed your geothermal tax credit yet? No? If you’ve installed a geothermal heat pump recently or plan to in the future, you better get on it. The credit won’t last forever.


30% Geothermal Tax Credit for Purchase & Installation


Okay, what are we talking about?


The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 created a big (30%) tax credit for homeowners who invested in renewable energy appliances. This includes solar panels, wind-energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, and more. Then The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded some of those provisions.


There’s a lot in those bills, but the bottom line is pretty straightforward. If you buy and install a new geothermal heat pump, you can claim 30% of that cost on your Federal taxes.


No matter the type of system you install, a 30% geothermal tax credit is a nice big chunk of change.


The Geothermal Tax Credit is Going Away (Soon-ish)

The current tax credit on geothermal heat pumps is due to expire on December 31, 2016. If you buy and install a new ground-source unit on January 1, 2017, you’ve missed the boat. If you wait until 2017 to claim the credit, same thing.


Now is the time to act.


It’s possible the geothermal tax credit will be renewed.


There is consumer and industry pressure on Congress to continue the provisions found in the 2008 law. Unfortunately, the legislation hasn’t made it out of committee yet, so no one knows how it’s all going to pan out. It’s entirely possible the effort will die. The next year and a half might really be the last opportunity to claim the credit.


Of course, it’s not too late. If you’ve thought about installing an energy efficient geothermal heat pump system in your home, you still have plenty of time to do just that.


Do your research, find the best system to fit your needs (we recommend GeoCool!), and make sure to claim your geothermal tax credit before it’s gone (maybe) forever.


brief geothermal heat pump history

An Admittedly Brief Geothermal Heat Pump History


Geothermal heat pumps are great, but do they have a history of reliability and performance? We could just say, “Yep.” That’s kind of unsatisfying though. What would be better is if we gave you a brief geothermal heat pump history lesson.


So, let’s do that.


Your Brief Geothermal Heat Pump History Lesson


Heat pump technology, generally speaking, has been around for a while. How long is ‘a while’? The great English scientist, Lord Kelvin, hypothesized how a heat pump might work way back in 1853. He never got around to actually building one though.


The world didn’t have to wait long. The first functional heat pump would pop up in Austria in 1855. As well as being blessed with the most Germanic name in history, Peter Ritter von Rittinger used that first heat pump to dry salt out of marshes. Sure, it sounds weird, but salt was a big commodity back then.


I hope it was anyway. Herr Von Rittinger was using cutting edge tech to get to it.


And that’s our brief geothermal heat pump history!


Just Kidding


After 1855, there is a long lull in heat pump development. Willis Carrier would invent the first conventional air conditioner, basically a heat pump, in the early 20th century, but WWI and WWII put a real crimp on R&D dollars.


Finally, in the late 1940’s, Robert C. Webber designed and built the first ground-source (aka geothermal) heat pump. By 1946, a commercial unit, the first of its kind, was running in the Commonwealth Building in Portland, Oregon.


Geothermal technology was finally here to stay, right?


Not Exactly


Conventional air conditioners of the era had horrible efficiency by modern standards, but it didn’t matter. Electricity cost almost nothing, and fuel-oil for winter heating was cheap. There was minimal financial incentive to invest in geothermal.


As you’re almost certainly aware, this state of affairs did not endure. The various oil crises of the 1970’s drove energy efficiency efforts around the world. The first wide-scale use of geothermal systems started in Sweden shortly thereafter. Sweden’s cold winter weather made geothermal an ideal HVAC solution. The technology spread to the rest of Europe from there.


Today, geothermal heat pump systems continue to grow in popularity. There are two main drivers: increasing energy costs and an increasing public desire for energy conservation. Approximately 80,000 new geothermal heat pump systems are installed in the United States every year, and the trend shows no sign of decline anytime soon.


And there is your brief geothermal heat pump history.


You’re quite welcome.


geothermal horizontal vs vertical loops

Geosource Installation: Geothermal Horizontal vs Vertical Loops


You’re thinking about a geothermal heat pump, but you’ve got questions. When it comes to geothermal horizontal vs vertical loops is there a difference? Is one better than the other?


Let’s dive in.


Geothermal Horizontal vs Vertical Loops

Horizontal Geothermal Heat Pump Installation


The most common geothermal heat pump installation is the ‘horizontal closed loop’. It’s pretty simple. Basically, the installer digs a series of horizontal trenches around your house. These are around 5 to 6 feet deep. The closed loop pipe is placed in the trench, then covered with the backfill.


Vertical Geothermal Heat Pump Installation


As you might suspect, vertical geothermal heat pump installation requires vertical ground excavation instead of horizontal. In this case, it’s usually just one very deep vertical shaft. The closed loop pipe is lowered into the vertical shaft, then, obviously, filled in.


Which is Better?


Why would you choose geothermal horizontal over vertical or vice versa? The two criteria you need to consider are available acreage and local soil conditions.


Horizontal trenches are easy to dig when there’s plenty of room, and the ground is not very rocky. If you live on a very small lot, you may not have the space for a horizontal installation. If you live in a very rocky region of the country, you can run into the same problem. It’s a lot cheaper to drill a single vertical shaft through hard rock than it is to cut large, horizontal trenches.


So when it comes to geothermal horizontal vs vertical loops, what side should you fall on?


As you can see, the answer depends on how much space you have available, and the condition of your soil. Ideally, you would want horizontal, since they’re usually cheaper.


There is one other scenario in which you may want to use a vertical loop in place of a horizontal loop. If you have an existing well shaft already on your property, a vertical loop could be installed without the need for additional digging.


Let us know in the comments if you have additional questions.


geothermal heat pumps beat conventional HVAC

5 Reasons Geothermal Heat Pumps Beat Conventional HVAC


Lots of industry insiders are talking about how geothermal is the best bet in home central heating and air. When it comes right down to it, do geothermal heat pumps beat conventional HVAC systems by enough to matter? Are they really that much more efficient? Is it worth your money to make the switch?


Yes! 5 Reasons Geothermal Heat Pumps Beat Conventional HVAC

#1. Permanent Stability

Stable, subsurface temperatures allow geothermal heat pumps to produce more heating and cooling output than the their energy input. Even better, this stability allows a geothermal unit to deliver consistent air comfort in virtually any weather conditions.


No matter how cold it gets outside, geothermal heat pumps beat conventional HVAC when it comes to seasonal stability.


#2. Operating Life

No one actually knows how long a geothermal closed loop will last. Why is that?


Mainly, because we haven’t been testing the loops for enough decades. Some of the oldest geothermal heat pump loops still function even after being used for 50 years.


The surface equipment is unlikely to last s half century, but the durability inherent to the installation means any replacements or upgrades are hugely discounted. Your old fashioned air conditioner isn’t going to get anywhere close. Which is why that’s the #2 reason geothermal heat pumps beat conventional HVAC.


#3. Tax Rebate

There was a lot of stuff in the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. There was even a little bit about renewable energy systems, and that includes geothermal heat pumps.


Basically, if you purchase and install a new geothermal heat pump that meets government guidelines before 31st December 2016, you can qualify for a major rebate on your income tax. How major?


Homeowners can claim up to 30% of the purchase and installation cost of the unit on their taxes. That can add up to quite a few pennies, and is one more reason geothermal heat pumps beat conventional HVAC.


#4. Green Tech

Going Green is all the rage these days. There isn’t an HVAC solution greener than a geothermal heat pump. The energy efficiency alone makes them better than just about any other system.


Depending on your installation, you have either almost zero emissions from run off or the system uses R-410A non-ozone depleting refrigerant. Either solution shrinks the impact of your environmental footprint.


Saving the environment and going green is another way geothermal heat pumps beat conventional HVAC.


#5. Save Money

US Department of Energy studies show a geothermal heat pump can reduce an energy bill by up to 70%.  Plus, most new owners pay off the installation cost of their geothermal heat pump in 5 to 10 years.


Some do it in as little as 3. The more expensive your local electricity, the more you could save year after year after year.


Do you like saving money? Yeah, you do, and that’s the best reason geothermal heat pumps beat conventional HVAC.


geothermal heat pump technology matters

Geothermal Heat Pump Technology Matters


Do you think geothermal heat pump technology matters?


Let’s be real. If you’re an average American (i.e. – not in the HVAC business), you probably never thought much about geothermal heat pumps. Most people don’t spend a lot of hard time thinking about the ups and downs of this or that HVAC industry innovation.


It’s hard to blame them. Heating and air isn’t the most user-friendly field. There aren’t a lot of stylish, sexy things to get excited about or post to Pinterest.


We’re trying to change that, but, for now, baby steps.


How Geothermal Heat Pump Technology Matters & Why

International oil prices are low, the fracking industry promises U.S. energy independence for the first time since the end of World War 2,  and vast North American natural gas reserves remain untapped. Surely, low cost energy is here to stay.




Despite recent developments, world demand for energy continues growing. As demand increases and supply diminishes, market forces will push prices higher and higher. U.S. energy companies will export their product when the price is right.


And the price will definitely be right.


The only practical solution is superior energy efficiency – getting more from less. There’s good news on this front. While American energy demand has risen steadily decade after decade our efficient use of energy has increased. We spend less on energy today in per dollar of GDP than we did in 1970.


However, more will need to be done, but what does that have to do with whether or not geothermal heat pump technology matters?


Geothermal Heat Pumps

There are a lot of ways we can increase American domestic energy intensity. In our opinion, one of the best is with geothermal heat pump technology.


Virtually every household in the country relies on modern heating and cooling. Most use a conventional air conditioner or air-source heat pump for summer relief, then switch to a gas furnace or boiler when winter temperatures drop. Geothermal heat pumps can both heat and cool, and they can do so very energy efficiently.


A geothermal heat pump relies on heat buried within the Earth’s crust to boost operating energy efficiency. It draws heat from this source to provide warmth in winter, then draws heat from your home in summer and deposits it back underground. The subterranean environment varies very little no matter how hot or cold it is, so a geothermal heat pump can operate at a high efficiency every single day of the year.


It is said that you can be sure of two things: death and taxes. You can also be sure that energy costs will increase alongside increasing global energy consumption. Geothermal heat pumps are a great way to improve American energy intensity, save money, and still enjoy great home air comfort.


And that is exactly why geothermal heat pump technology matters.


best geothermal blog

The Best Geothermal Blog in the Universe


Welcome to the best geothermal blog in the entire universe! And, for today at least, it is also the newest blog about geothermal heat pumps in the entire universe.


I guess there could be some alien blogging at exactly this point somewhere else in our galaxy. I doubt he’s going to write in English, so that means it doesn’t count.


The Best Geothermal Blog and You!

You might be wondering what exactly this blog, one of millions on the Grand Interwebs of Earth, is going to offer you, the average consumer. A quite rightful quandary.


Our mission is educational. Yes, obviously, we want to sell you a geothermal heat pump. If you send me money right now, I’ll have a unit shipped to you before the Sun sets on the morrow.


But that’s not our main focus here.


Like I said before, our main focus is educational. We sell geothermal heat pumps, because we believe they are the best modern solution to non-renewable energy problems. These units heat in winter, cool in summer, and operate energy efficiently all year long. They’re an ideal tool to maintain the interior air comfort we all know and love when our fossil fuel resources (eventually) run out.


And they will you know. That’s why they’re called non-renewable.


The Future of the Best Geothermal Blog

Okay, fine!


We’re not actually calling it ‘The Best Geothermal Blog.’ It’s actually called ‘Geo Wisdom’, and I’m sure you’re clever enough to figure out why.


In the coming days, weeks, and months we will dispense our hard earned geothermal heat pump expertise. Hopefully, it will inspire some of you to jump on the renewable energy air comfort bandwagon.


It’s renewable, so there’s plenty of room.