Heating homes and businesses has become a major monthly operating expense and all signs point to the fact that it won’t be getting cheaper any time soon. Because of this, demand has grown for more economically friendly heating and cooling methods. We’ve seen the rise of air source heat pumps and mini splits, but there’s another heating system on the scene that will reduce monthly heating bills more than any of its competitors: the geothermal heat pump.
Geothermal and the Steady Heat Source
Geothermal heat pumps act much like an air source heat pump, but they get their heat from the ground, not the outdoor air. The ground below the frost line maintains a constant temperature year round, and the heat pump draws from that warmth in the winter to deliver heat into homes and businesses. Unlike air source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps do not lose efficiency in the winter, because their heat source does not diminish. This means geothermal heat pumps are much more efficient, and don’t require backup heat.
Geothermal Heat Pump Efficiencies
Thanks to this steady heat source, geothermal heat pumps maintain an average COP of around 4.0 all year round. If your customer is retrofitting electric baseboards, this means they will save approximately 75% off their heating bill every month—a compelling proposition! On top of that, geothermal heat pumps typically supply most of your domestic hot water in winter via a desuperheater and in summer provide free domestic hot water while cooling, which will help your customers save 80-90% on their hot water costs
Geothermal Heating Costs and Paybacks
Geothermal heat pumps require a ground loop – either horizontal or vertical – or a water well(s) installed outside to collect their heat. This requires a fair amount of excavation and/or drilling during the installation process. Due to this, geothermal heat pumps are generally more expensive initially than air source heat pumps or mini splits. Fortunately, the increased efficiency and cost savings means the heat pump will still pay for itself in 5-7 years, depending on the unique characteristics of the installation and the available incentives. Since the lifespan of the average geothermal heat pump is in excess of 20 years the heat pump will have 300% return on investment or more over its lifetime.