Do Geothermal HVAC Units Reduce Energy Costs?

With inflation making seemingly everything more expensive, it’s important to save money in any way you can. One expense that you have a surprising amount of control over is your Grand Rapids home’s heating and cooling costs. While simple acts, such as adjusting your thermostat and replacing your air filter, can help reduce your energy costs, making a major effort is the best way to save the most money. One of those big steps is replacing your current HVAC system with a geothermal system. Keep reading this article to help you decide whether or not a geothermal system is worth the investment.

Ground-source Heat Pump

A geothermal system is also known as a ground-source heat pump. That’s because a geothermal system exchanges thermal energy with the ground in order to heat and cool your home. Using long, buried pipes filled with refrigerant, a ground-source heat pump can transfer heat energy from the ground to your home to make it warmer in the winter. In the summer, it can reverse this process to remove heat energy from your home and inject it into the ground. This process is quite efficient compared to other types of HVAC systems because a geothermal system only has to transfer energy instead of changing energy from one form to another.

Free Energy

The ground underneath your home is full of free energy. That’s because the underground temperature stays relatively stable throughout the year. Even when the air is quite cold or hot for long periods of time, the ground temperature at the depths where geothermal lines are buried doesn’t change much. Since you already have this energy present in your yard, all you have to pay for is the system to move the energy and the electricity the system uses to do the moving. That’s why geothermal systems are, by far, the most efficient HVAC systems available. While there are a few caveats to the overall cost-effectiveness of a geothermal system, if you’re looking for the best of the best, Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling recommends geothermal in every case.

Geothermal Versus an Air-source Heat Pump

Many people utilize air-source heat pumps to heat and cool their homes. These systems are similar to ground-source heat pumps because they only move energy from one place to another instead of transforming energy from one form to another. However, air-source heat pumps are inherently less efficient than ground-source heat pumps because air temperatures fluctuate far more than underground temperatures. While an air-source system might not have to work too hard to extract heat energy on a mild day, for example, it will have to work exceptionally hard to extract heat energy on a frigid day. Meanwhile, a ground-source system won’t have to work any harder because the underground temperature is still the same.

Geothermal Versus a Conventional HVAC System

A geothermal system excels even more when compared to a conventional system because a conventional system has to change energy from one form to another, a process that is inherently inefficient. For example, a gas furnace has to change the chemical energy in the form of natural gas into heat energy. Some of the potential energy in the natural gas will be lost as exhaust fumes that are created during the combustion process. Heat pumps transfer heat, and there is no combustion. That is why some estimates put potential energy savings at over 70 percent when you install a geothermal system to replace a conventional system.

Longer Life

Another way that geothermal systems save homeowners money is with their long life spans. When Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling installs a geothermal system, we typically tell the homeowner to expect the equipment to last at least 25 years. Compared to the average life span of a conventional HVAC system, which is about 10 to 15 years, it’s easy to see how a geothermal system can save you money in the long run. Even better is the fact that the underground refrigerant lines that make up a large part of a geothermal system’s installation cost can often last 50 years or more. Thus, parts of your geothermal system can last the same amount of time that four or five conventional systems will last. While geothermal systems do cost more initially, you’ll be able to spread that investment over many more years to ensure that your investment pays off.

Low-cost Hot Water

Yet another cost-saving benefit of a geothermal system is that you can use the system to provide low-cost hot water to your home. A geothermal water heater can tie into your geothermal HVAC system to take advantage of the heat energy that exists underground. When you consider that your home’s water heater and HVAC system are its two biggest energy users, it’s easy to see how switching to geothermal can significantly reduce your monthly and long-term energy costs. Plus, a geothermal water heater doesn’t have any pilot lights or heating elements to contend with. Therefore, as long as the tank’s lining holds up, you can expect to get a long life out of your water heater.

Make Your Investment Count

When deciding whether you should invest in a geothermal system, one major consideration is time. As mentioned, a geothermal system costs more when you first install it, largely because of the labor involved in burying the underground refrigerant lines. Therefore, if you’re planning on moving within a few years of installing your system, Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling recommends considering all of your heating and cooling options to see which one makes the most sense for your budget. If you do opt for a geothermal system just a few years before you move, you may still be able to offset the higher cost by using the system to increase your home’s value so that you get a higher sales price. Of course, if you plan on staying put for a long time, there’s no better option than geothermal.

Maintenance Is Crucial

As with any type of HVAC system, the care you show your geothermal system is the biggest factor that determines its efficiency and longevity. Semi-annual maintenance visits from Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling will help to ensure that your system is running properly and isn’t developing any issues. In a geothermal system, catching issues before they cause problems can help avoid major repair bills that can compound on top of the higher installation costs. It’s also important that you take care to change the air filter once a month so that your system maintains adequate airflow. Blocking the flow of air will reduce the system’s efficiency and potentially shorten its life span.

Your Geothermal Experts

At Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling, we take pride in the expertise we bring to every project. Whether we’re installing a new geothermal system, maintaining an air conditioner, initializing an energy audit, repairing a furnace, or performing one of our many other commercial or residential services, you can be sure that we’ll treat every customer like family. This customer-first approach is one reason why we’ve been able to thrive as a company for over 60 years. The biggest testament to our excellence, though, is the five-star reviews we regularly receive from customers. If you’d like to learn more about how to heat and cool your home with a geothermal system, contact Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling at one of our offices in Portage, Grand Rapids, or Three Rivers.

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