How Geothermal Heat Pumps Are Installed
- Is it really a complex job to put in a geothermal HVAC system?
- How much more does a ground source heat pump cost?
- Are geothermal home comfort systems available for all Texas homes?
When you’re considering a home comfort system for a new home or a replacement system for your existing home in Texas, the type of equipment you select affects its initial cost and the long-term operational cost. It also determines how your AC and heating contractor installs your new equipment. Homeowners in the Dallas Fort Worth metro area, along with those in and around Houston and San Antonio are looking closely at geothermal systems today because this new technology is extremely friendly to the environment. Although they cost somewhat more initially, they offer enormous energy bill savings over their lifetimes, and leave minimum carbon footprint. Many homeowners, though, are concerned about the installation process. To help you understand what’s involved, our guide below will help you get a complete picture of what is involved, depending on the type of system you select:
Ground Loop Energy Transfer System
Since a ground source heat pump gets thermal energy from the constant temperatures deep underground, installation requires burying loops of special tubing fairly deep underground. The rest of the system is almost identical with more traditional heating and cooling systems. Burying the special tubing requires excavations on your property. Alternatively, the tubing can be placed underwater if a body of water is on the property. In each of the ground loop types below, the size of the excavation and the amount of heat transfer tubing vary according to the size of the home and its design:
- Horizontal Loop – These systems use horizontally placed loops, buried at least five feet underground. Earth-moving equipment is used to dig trenches on your property for the loops. These may be between 100-500 feet long, and multiple trenches may be needed. For newly constructed homes, new landscaping will hide any sign of the trenches. For existing homes, landscaping will need to be repaired after the job is done.
- Vertical Loop – Where space is limited or when minimal disruption of landscaping is desired, heat transfer loops can be installed vertically, in well-like holes bored on the property. These may be between 100-300 feet deep, and more than one bore may be needed. Typical well-drilling equipment is used. Once the loop is in place, the bores are re-filled with earth. Landscaping is minimally disturbed with vertical loops.
- Pond or Lake Loop Installation – If you have a substantial body of water on your property, heat transfer loops can be placed under the water. Determining whether the body of water is adequate for this strategy depends on its depth, size and constant availability. Large farm ponds and significant ponds on larger properties are often suitable. These installations can be less expensive, but must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Since a ground source geothermal HVAC system requires excavations and the installation of the closed loop thermal energy transfer system below ground, it adds considerably to the initial cost. The actual increase in costs depends on the type of installation, its size, and the nature of your property. Only an experienced Texas HVAC contractor can provide an accurate estimate of these costs, after a thorough evaluation of your home and property. Compare the additional cost with the increased energy bill savings over time to determine the time it will take to recover the additional costs and how much you can save over the life of your system. Your contractor will perform the needed calculations for you. In most cases, the extra cost for geothermal can be recovered within 3-5 years, but energy bill savings continue for many years to come.
Geothermal HVAC Heat Pump Systems Are Available for Most Homes
Texas homes use a wide variety of methods for heating and air conditioning. Newly designed homes can incorporate a full-scale ground source heat pump system to provide all heating and cooling requirements. For existing homes, geothermal HVAC manufactures have systems available to replace or supplement existing home comfort equipment. When you consult with a trusted AC contractor, your current system will be evaluated and one of these options may be recommended:
- Central Forced-Air Systems – These all-in-one systems are designed to supply all heating and cooling for your home, using existing or newly installed air ducts throughout your home. With a system like this, you won’t need your gas furnace or outdoor central AC compressor and condenser unit or air source heat pump. One central unit connected to your air ducts will do it all, working with the closed ground loop energy transfer system. You’ll only notice your lower energy bills.
- Split System Ground Source Heat Pumps – These systems, which can be installed indoors or outdoors, are designed to replace your existing outdoor central AC or heat pump unit. They work with your existing forced-air furnace and air ducts to create a hybrid HVAC system. It will handle almost all of your heating and cooling, with your existing furnace on standby to take over when it’s a more efficient heat source. In Texas, that won’t be needed often. Homeowners choose split systems most often when they already have a newer high-efficiency furnace they want to keep.
- Hydronic Geothermal Heat Pumps – For homes that rely on circulating water in floors or wall panels for heating and cooling, these systems replace inefficient heating and cooling equipment, using geothermal heat pump technology to provide home comfort at much lower energy costs. Compact heat pumps are installed indoors or outdoors to replace older systems.
- Geothermal HVAC for Homes with Resistance Heating – A custom-designed geothermal system can replace your costly electric heating system and let you realize great savings and better comfort. If you’re using window air conditioners the savings will be even higher. These installations may require adding air ducts systems or other methods. Your Texas HVAC contractor can show you your options and help you compare costs. Each of these installations is unique.
Texas Homeowners Should Consider Geothermal Heat Pump Technology
If you’re planning to build a brand-new custom home, it’s likely that designing for a high-efficiency ground source geothermal home comfort system is your best choice. You’ll enjoy dramatic energy bill savings from the day you move in and for decades afterwards. If you’re planning to replace the older, inefficient heating and air conditioning system in your home, geothermal technology may be an ideal choice for you, too. There are many reliable HVAC companies that specialize in supplying and installing this new equipment in all regions of Texas, from Splendora, Montgomery and Pearland to Fulshear, Mont Belvieu and Fresno in the Houston area, from Lewisville, Frisco and Duncanville to Kaufmann, Irving and Godley in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and from Grey Forest, Campbellton and LaVernia to Frio Town, Macdona and Losoya in the San Antonio area.
You can choose from a wide range of models manufactured by Trane, GeoComfort, Carrier, ClimateMaster and WaterFurnace. Get a free home evaluation and consultation that includes all types of systems. Let your experienced contractor do the calculations and you’ll learn just how much systems will cost initially and how much lower your energy bills will be. Compare carefully, and make the decision that’s best for you and your family.