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A Guide To Geothermal Heating And Cooling

Written By 5 Star Charleston Heating & Air
June 20, 2023

Geothermal heating and cooling might be the right solution for your home in South Carolina. These systems improve your property’s energy efficiency and are better for the environment when compared to other HVAC options. The 5 Star Charleston team proudly offers geothermal HVAC options to accommodate homeowners and improve our community’s carbon footprint. In this article, we have created a comprehensive guide to geothermal heating and cooling to help homeowners better understand how the system operates and the benefits it can provide.

What Are Geothermal Heat Pumps?

Geothermal heat pumps participate in a heat transfer process and can help you cool and heat your home. Geothermal systems are electrically powered, buried underground or submerged in water, and circulate a fluid, whether water, refrigerant, or antifreeze, through long loops of underground pipes.

In the winter, geothermal heat pumps take heat from an outside source and transfer it into your home. During the summer, they do the opposite, drawing heat from your home and transferring it outdoors.

Geothermal heat pumps use a refrigerant or liquid to move the heat around. It doesn’t require as much energy from your home since it’s simply moving heat to the appropriate place. No gas or fuel burns in this process, making it a favorite among homeowners.

Types Of Geothermal Heat Pumps

There are four types of geothermal heating and cooling systems according to the U.S. Department of Energy: horizontal, vertical, pond/lake, and open-loop. Horizontal, vertical, and pond/lake geothermal systems are all closed-loop, which means an antifreeze solution is circulated through the closed-loop. An open-loop system uses well or surface water as the heat exchange fluid, rather than an antifreeze solution. The closed-loop systems are most commonly used, because open-loop systems require a steady supply of clean water. Below we have briefly described horizontal, vertical, and pond/lake geothermal heat pumps in Charleston, SC.

Horizontal Heat Pump Systems

Horizontal systems are good for new construction projects but require a large amount of space. They consist of multiple layers of pipes with coils in six-foot-deep trenches. If you’re building a new home or business and have land to spare, a horizontal system could be the perfect fit for you.

Vertical Heat Pump Systems

Vertical systems make the most of a smaller space by running pipes up and down below the ground. Some commercial properties or homes with limited land will utilize a vertical system. The depth of the holes ranges from 100 to 400 feet deep.

Pond/Lake Heat Pump Systems

Pond or lake heat pump systems take heat from a nearby water source instead of the ground. If your home or business has a small body of water on the property, you might benefit from this type of system. It is the most affordable option of the three and has coils underneath the body of water.

Benefits Of A Geothermal HVAC System

Geothermal systems can provide a wide variety of benefits for both you and your home. While installing a geothermal system can be costly upfront, the benefits often make the investment worth it. Belo we have listed six advantages of installing a geothermal HVAC system in Charleston, SC and surrounding areas.

  • Tax Incentives and Rebates
  • Improved Energy Efficiency
  • Better for the Environment
  • Minimal Maintenance
  • Long Lifespan
  • Quiet Performance

Tax Incentives and Rebates

Installing a geothermal heating and cooling system allows homeowners the option to certain tax incentives, which can help with the upfront installation costs. According to Energy Star, utilizing an approved geothermal heat pump can award you with a tax credit, depending on your location and the system you choose.

Your local utility company may offer you incentives as well, and 5 Star Charleston Heating & Air can help you explore these options. We can recommend the appropriate type of system and how you can possibly save money on upfront costs.

Improved Energy Efficiency

Since geothermal HVAC systems only use electricity, the system is more energy-efficient when compared to traditional heating and cooling systems. These systems don’t release emissions and waste less energy, leading to cheaper energy bills and potentially thousands of dollars saved.

Better For The Environment

Although there are many eco-friendly practices for other types of HVAC systems, geothermal heating and cooling is great for the environment. It doesn’t contribute to poor indoor air quality and releases the lowest amount of emissions compared to other systems.

Minimal Maintenance

Since geothermal heating and cooling has fewer parts compared to an air conditioner or furnace, it makes sense that it requires less maintenance. Not only can this reduce your stress, but it can also help you save money on service calls.

Long Lifespan

Geothermal heat pumps last many years, with the ground loop pipes lasting around 50 years and the heat pump itself around 25 years. Many other types of HVAC systems can last 15 years or less before needing a replacement. By getting a geothermal system, you’ll spend less time and money on replacements.

Quiet Performance

No one enjoys a loud and noisy heating or cooling system. Unusually loud sounds during operation indicate larger issues with HVAC systems. However, most give off some amount of noise while running. In comparison, geothermal heating and cooling systems operate quietly, similar to how your refrigerator runs.

Are There Any Potential Downsides To Geothermal HVAC Systems?

Geothermal heat pumps might not be the right fit for everyone. It’s vital to consider the pros and cons of this energy-saving system before committing to anything. Some potential drawbacks to geothermal heating and cooling are as follows:

  • Requires Professional Assistance: While some property owners opt to install their heating and cooling systems themselves, this is not possible with geothermal heat pumps. It is an incredibly precise and complex task that will only yield good results with an expert. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could tear up your land and have a non-efficient system.
  • Landscape Disruption: If you’re proud of your flowers and gorgeous landscape, you might be unhappy installing geothermal heating and cooling.
  • Recent Development: Geothermal systems are still new, so not everyone can install them, and the system can be costly upfront. Prices may remain high for several years until the system becomes more common for homeowners to install.

Geothermal heating and cooling can save your property money on HVAC costs and create a more energy-efficient space. 5 Star Charleston Heating & Air can recommend the best fitting geothermal system for your needs in Charleston, SC. Call our team at (843) 894-3021 to see how we can help!