FAQ: If I want to know more about geothermal heat pump systems, whom

YOUR ELECTRIC UTILITY. Most electric utilities have information about these systems. I you have a question they can't answer, they will put you in contact with someone who can. Remember! Your Electric Utility Wants You To Be An Informed, Efficient User Of Electricity. Contact Them Any Time You Have A Question About Heating And Cooling Systems.

FAQ: If a home has ceiling cable heat or baseboard heat, do air ducts need to

Not always. It may be desirable to install geothermal heat pump room units. For some small homes, one room unit would provide most of the heating and cooling needs. Ceiling cable or baseboard units could then be used for supplemental heat.

FAQ: How long is the payback period for your geothermal heat pump system?

To figure this accurately, you must know how much per year you'll save in energy costs with a geothermal system and the difference in costs between it and a conventional heating system and central air conditioner. As an example: If you'll save $700 per year with a geothermal system and the cost difference is $2,000, your payback will be less than three years.

Heat pumps FAQ - 2 questions

FAQ: Will open or closed-loop be best for you?
That depends on several factors, as stated earlier. A dealer should be willing to install what's best for you, not for him.
FAQ: Will the loop joints be heat fused?
The only acceptable method for joining sections of the special pipe used for closed-loop systems is heat fusion. Any other method will eventually result in failure of the loop.

FAQ: Are the dealer and loop installers qualified?

Don't be afraid to ask for references from dealers. A reputable dealer won't hesitate to give you names and numbers to call to confirm his capabilities. The same with the loop installer.

FAQ: Will the minimum entering water temperature have an affect on which

Yes. If you have an open-loop system, your entering water temperatures may range from the 70s in the southern United States to the 40s in Canada. All heat pumps can handle temperatures in the moderate to warm ranges. A closed-loop system, on the other hand, will encounter EWT's below freezing. Not all geothermal heat pumps will operate efficiently at those temperatures. It's important for you to know what EWT's your heat pump will handle.

FAQ: Is the efficiency rating actual or just a manufacturer's average?

All types of heating and cooling systems have a rated efficiency. Fossil fuel furnaces have a percentage efficiency rating. Natural gas, propane and fuel oil furnaces have efficiency ratings based on laboratory conditions. To get an accurate installed efficiency rating, factors such as flue gas heat losses, cycling losses caused by over sizing, blower fan electrical usage, etc., must be included. Geothermal heat pumps, as well as all other types of heat pumps, have efficiencies rated according to their coefficient of performance or COP. It's a scientific way of determining how much energy the system produces versus how much it uses. Most geothermal heat pump systems have COP's of 2.5 - 3.5. That means for every one unit of energy used to power the system; two and one-half to three and one-half units are supplied as heat. Where a fossil fuel furnace may be 50-90 percent efficient, a geothermal heat pump is about 300 percent efficient. Some geothermal heat pump manufacturers and electric utilities use computers to accurately determine the operating efficiency of a system for your home.

FAQ: What is the Btu size of the furnace that's being proposed?

Furnaces are designed to provide specific amounts of heat energy per hour. The term 'Btuh’ refers to how much heat can be produced by the unit in an hour. Before you can know what size furnace you'll need, you must have a heat loss/heat gain calculation done on your home. From that, an accurate determination can be made on the size of the heating system you'll need. Most fossil fuel furnaces are substantially oversized for home heating requirements, resulting in increased operating costs.

Questions you should ask about a new heating system

Regardless of the type of heating system you may be considering for your home or business, there are specific questions you should ask the dealer installer. These questions deal with finding out the actual efficiency of the system, any operating limitations it may have, and the bottom line of operating costs. The answers here are meant as a guide for what you should try to find out with your questions.

FAQ: Which system is best, open - or closed loop?

The net results in operating cost and efficiency are virtually the same. Which system to choose depends mainly on whether you have an adequate groundwater supply and means of disposal. If you do, an open loop can be used very effectively. If not, either a horizontal or vertical closed-loop system is your best choice. Over a period of years, a closed-loop system will require less maintenance because it's sealed and pressurized, eliminating the possible buildup of minerals or iron deposits.

FAQ: Can I get a tax credit for installing this system?

It depends on where you live. Some states and provinces do have tax credits for installing geothermal systems. Check with your electric utility, Department of
Commerce or Ministry of Revenue for further details.

FAQ: What about comfort?

A geothermal heat pump system moves warm air (90 degrees - 105 degrees) throughout your home via a standard duct network. Typically, a very even comfort level is found throughout the home. This is because the warm air is moved in slightly higher volumes and, therefore, saturates the home with warmth more evenly. This helps even out hot or cold spots and eliminates the cold air blast common with fossil fuel furnaces. It's also a great comfort to know that you've reduced your energy consumption while using an inexhaustible energy source - the earth.

FAQ: What does a system like this cost?

A system for the typical home will cost more than if you bought a separate furnace and central air-conditioning system. But you wouldn't really be comparing apples to apples. To get an accurate comparison of costs you need to consider the following:
• Payback or how long it takes to recover the difference in costs between the two systems using energy savings. Payback for most geothermal heat-pump systems runs two to six years.
• Energy efficiency of the two Systems. To get an accurate picture, make sure efficiency claims are substantiated. Your lifestyle and how well your home is insulated affect how economical a system will be.
• Total operating savings from heating, cooling and domestic hot water must be combined to get an accurate picture of total energy savings.
• Energy costs and availability, both present and future.
• Maintenance costs and system reliability • System lifespan.

FAQ: How efficient is a geothermal heat pump?

They are more than three times as efficient as the most efficient fossil fuel furnace. Instead of burning a combustible fuel to make heat, they simply move heat that already exists. By doing that, they provide three units of energy for every one unit used to power the heat-pump system.

FAQ: Do geothermal heat pumps have outdoor units?

No. The equipment goes inside your home, usually in the basement, garage or crawl space. Because it's indoors, the lifespan of the compressor and major components are greatly extended, most having a lifespan of 20 years or more.

FAQ: Should I buy a heat pump large enough to heat my home with no supplemental heat?

Your contractor should provide a heating and cooling load calculation (heat loss, heat gain) to guide your equipment selection. Geothermal heat pumps are sized to meet your cooling requirements. Depending on your heating needs, a geothermal heat pump will supply 80 to 100 percent of your design heating load. Sizing the heat pump to handle your entire heating needs may result in slightly lower heating costs, but the savings may not offset the added cost of the larger heat-pump unit. Also, an oversized unit can cause dehumidification problems in the cooling mode, resulting in a loss of summer comfort.

FAQ: Do I need to increase the size of my electric service?

Geothermal heat pumps don't use large amounts of resistance heat, so your existing service may be adequate. Generally, a 200-amp service will have enough capacity, and smaller amp services may be large enough in some cases. Your electric utility or contractor can determine your service needs.

FAQ: I have ductwork, but will it work with this system?

In all probability, yes. Your installing contractor should be able to determine ductwork requirements and any minor modifications, if needed.

FAQ: Can a geothermal heat pump be added to my fossil fuel furnace?

Split systems can easily be added to existing furnaces for those wishing to have a dual-fuel heating system. Dual-Fuel systems use the heat pump as the main heating source and a fossil fuel furnace as a supplement in extremely cold weather if additional heat is needed.

FAQ: Is a geothermal heat pump difficult to install?

Most units are easy to install, especially when they are replacing another forcedair
system. They can be installed in areas unsuitable for fossil fuel furnaces because there is no combustion, thus, no need to vent exhaust gases. Ductwork must be installed in homes that don't have an existing air distribution system. The difficulty of installing ductwork will vary and should be assessed by a contractor.

FAQ: Can a geothermal heat pump also heat water for my home?

Yes. Using what's called a desuperheater, some types of geothermal heat pumps can save you up to 50 percent on your water heating bill by preheating tank water. Desuperheaters are standard on some units, optional on others. Some geothermal models can provide all of your water needs on demand at the same high efficiencies as the heating cooling cycles.

FAQ: Will I have to add insulation to my home if I install one of these systems?

Geothermal heat pumps will reduce your heating and cooling costs regardless of how well your home is insulated. However, insulating and weatherizing are key factors in realizing the most savings from any type of heating and cooling system.

FAQ: Are all geothermal heat pumps alike?

No. There are different kinds of geothermal heat pumps designed for specific applications. Many geothermal heat pumps, for example, are intended for use only with higher temperature ground water encountered in open-loop systems. Others will operate at entering water temperatures as low as 25 degrees F which are possible in closed-loop systems.
Most geothermal heat pumps provide summer air conditioning, but a few brands are designed only for winter heating. Sometimes these heating-only systems incorporate a groundwater cooled coil that can provide cooling in moderate climates. Geothermal heat pumps can also differ in the way they are designed. Self contained units combine the blower compressor, heat exchanger and coil ina single cabinet. Split systems allow the coil to be added to a forced-air furnace and utilize the existing blower.

FAQ: What are the components of a geothermal heat-pump system?

The three main parts are:
1. The heat-pump unit.
2. The liquid heat exchanger medium (open or closed loop).
3. The air-delivery system (ductwork).