Geothermal as an option for heating for homes isn’t nearly as well-known as oil, gas or electric heat — yet. Today, it’s a growing trend in various parts of the country.
These systems can save you a lot of money on your energy bills. But, there’s a catch: Your home and the land it’s on has to meet certain criteria.
The good news is that plenty of places are good to go for an HVAC setup like this. But, you need to know what you’re looking for
Let’s look at how these systems work, and what they require.
How Does Geothermal Heat Work?
This setup uses what’s called a heat exchange system. If you’re familiar with heat pumps, that’s the same thing. In fact, these systems use heat pumps to warm your house in the winter and cool it off in the summer.
Here’s the trick: No matter how hot or cold it gets in New Jersey the temperature just a few feet below the ground in around 54 degrees. To set up this system, we place some plastic tubing a few feet underground and connect it to your pump.
The tubing contains water and anti-freeze, which is colder than the temperature there. That means heat is attracted to it. The liquid then conducts that heat to the pump. Then, the system concentrates and amplifies it.
Once the heat is removed from the liquid, it’s now cooled again. Then, the process starts over. It keeps going like that in a loop.
In the summer, that 54 degrees is cooler than on the surface. So, the system works in reverse. Now, it draws the heat from your home and sends it underground. Once the liquid is cooled off, it can attract more heat when it runs above ground again.
This saves money because you’re not using electricity or burning fossil fuels like oil to generate heat. And, you’re not running an air conditioner in the summer.
Instead, the earth’s heat is doing most of the work for you. The system just needs a little bit of electricity to start the loop and work the compression.
What Does My Home Need For A Geothermal Heating System?
If you want to install a geothermal heating system, your home needs a few things:
- The right climate
- The right kind of soil
- Land availability
- Money for an up-front investment
We’ll crunch the numbers a little later. But for starters, the climate in Central Jersey near the Delaware River is fine for a heat pump.
They’re effective even when the temperature regularly gets as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now, if you’re interested in installing a setup like this, you’ll need a certified HVAC installer to check out the land you’ll be using. That start with the soil and what’s underground.
The type of soil and rocks in the ground near home make a big difference. They affect how well the system can transfer heat from the ground to the liquid in the tubing.
You want plenty of condensation underground. That helps with the transfer. But, you can’t have too much rock formation or hard soil. That makes it harder to build the trench.
Finally, you have to have enough land for the system. What you see on the surface is just the tip of the iceberg. The bulk of this setup is underground.
There are two basic setups: horizontal and vertical. There’s a third that uses underground water, but that’s only possible if there’s a sizable water source below your home. That’s not always the case.
So, back to the two more common setups: If you’re going horizontal, the piping only goes about four feet under the ground. But, it spreads out much further than a vertical one.
For an average, mid-sized house, you need between 1,200 and 1,800 feet of tubing. That equals up to 600 feet across. So, your property needs to reach at least that far.
A vertical system goes as far as 400 feet down. But, you don’t need as much land for that. As long as the ground below you is good, you can dig that deep.
Unfortunately, you can’t figure out most of these things yourself. Instead, you’ll need a qualified installer to inspect the land. But, knowing the size of your property and the general condition of the soil can give you a good start.
What Costs Are Associated With These Systems?
First, let’s look at the upfront cost. You can expect to pay up to or around $3,500 for your new system. That’s all the parts plus the labor to install it all. Remember, there’s a lot more to this than just putting in a new heater.
Fortunately, there are ways to bring that cost down. And for that, you can look to your local utility company.
Today, many electric companies in the country offer cash incentives for people to install energy-efficient appliances. That means products that use less electricity but give you the same results as older models that use more power.
A new HVAC system like this certainly fits that bill. You’ll use a lot less power to heat and cool your home than you did with fossil fuels and a “regular” air conditioner.
And, Public Service Electric & Gas is no exception when it comes to utility companies. Depending on the system you choose, they may offer you a few hundred dollars or even upwards of $1,000 to put toward the purchase and installation costs.
If you’re building a new home or buying a house, there’s a chance you can bundle the cost into your mortgage. In that case, you won’t feel the hit nearly as much as if you paid upfront, put it on credit or otherwise financed it.
But the good news is, the system eventually pays for itself. To figure this out, take your current utility bills. See how much you spend every month and every year keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Then, subtract the difference from how much you’re paying once you have the new system — or, at least, what projection you have.
That difference is how much you’re saving each month. Once that amount adds up to the price you paid, you’ve gotten your money back.
And, of course, the savings don’t stop there. You’ll continue to pay less than before on your energy bills while getting the same heat and cooling you did before.
Are you interested in a geothermal heat for your home? Contact us at (856) 272-7000 and we’ll help you determine if your home is eligible.