Geothermal HVAC Systems for New and Existing Texas Homes
- Why should builders and owners of new homes consider geothermal systems?
- Are ground source heat pumps practical for existing home retrofits?
- What are the long-term financial benefits of geothermal heating and cooling?
As the energy savings and environmental benefits of ground source geothermal heating and air conditioning are better understood each year by Texas homeowners, many questions still exist. As with most home mechanical systems, costs vs. financial benefits are often the deciding factors. Especially for existing homes, the cost of installation and replacement of existing HVAC systems also must be considered. It can be a complex decision for homeowners with properties in the Houston area, as well as for homes in and around Dallas, Ft. Worth and San Antonio.
The trusted and experienced AC and heating contractors in our directory are always happy to discuss these systems and provide facts to help their customers make informed decisions. Our guide below can also be of help, by informing people about the basic facts that need to be considered.
New Texas Homes Are Ideal for Eco-Friendly Geothermal HVAC Installation
If you’re planning to build a custom home on a good-sized lot or acreage or if you’re a residential developer, ground source heat pump systems are an excellent choice to include in the home’s design and construction. A home comfort system is always part of a new home’s mechanical systems, and great economies and long-term energy savings can be realized by choosing this new technology from the very beginning. Here are some of the factors that you should consider for any new home in Texas:
- Savings on ground loop installation – For both horizontal and vertical geothermal underground heat transfer loops, the excavations can be done at the same time as foundation excavations. Equipment is already on site and no existing landscaping will be damaged.
- Mechanical systems are similar – Geothermal heat pumps and air handling equipment, along with air duct systems, are similar to traditional forced-air central HVAC systems. No additional design factors are required, aside from some additional plumbing considerations.
- Energy savings are immediate – As soon as the residence is occupied, low energy bills create savings from day one. Lower monthly energy bills, even heating and cooling and attractiveness to homebuyers are strong reasons to feature geothermal technology in new homes. Add optional water heating options for even more potential savings.
- Homebuyers and owners understand the environmental benefits – For many Texas homeowners, maintaining a low environmental impact influences their home buying decisions. Geothermal HVAC is a green technology that provides outstanding home comfort with many benefits to the environment.
- Contractor coordination is a plus – Architects, developers, and HVAC contractors should cooperate in incorporating geothermal air conditioning and heating from the very beginning of project planning. This ensures lowest costs and keeps construction on schedule.
Retrofitting Existing Homes with Geothermal HVAC Systems
Few existing homes in Texas were built with ground source heat pumps in mind. The technology is too new. So, for homeowners looking for the outstanding energy efficiency of geothermal home comfort systems, installation can present some challenges, and is somewhat more costly than simply replacing typical mechanical equipment. Each type of home heating and air conditioning system presents its own set of design and cost factors that will influence the decision. Careful calculations and cost estimates help property owners to determine whether converting to geothermal makes good economical sense. HVAC contractors can provide analysis and calculations to assist in making the best decision for each unique home. Factors include:
- Space for and cost of heat transfer ground loops – Every geothermal retrofit requires excavation and installation of underground heat transfer closed loop systems. The available space and existing landscaping influence the total cost of this part of the project. Where adequate space or extensive landscaping makes horizontal ground loops impractical, vertical loops and well-digging methods can minimize space requirements and landscape issues.
- Retrofitting homes with central heating and cooling – replacing a traditional HVAC system in these homes is simplest. The mechanical systems can be switched efficiently at very reasonable installation cost, and few alterations will be needed. The geothermal mechanical equipment itself is comparable in cost. Energy bill savings will offset the additional cost in minimal time, making the conversion very attractive financially. If existing gas furnaces are retained, a split geothermal heat pump can create a money-saving hybrid HVAC system, while using the current furnace for supplemental heat.
- Homes with electrical resistance heating are more challenging – In-floor electric heating systems and wall strip heating systems are common in Texas, with window AC units or ductless mini-split systems. Installing a new geothermal heat pump will require installation of air ducts, usually in ceilings or crawl spaces. Many heating and AC companies in Texas can do this efficiently, but the added cost should be part of your calculations and may extend the time required to pay off additional costs through energy savings. Each home’s retrofitting design is unique.
- Hot water-heated homes are easy to retrofit – If your existing home’s HVAC system uses plumbing in the floor or hydronic radiator systems to distribute heat, a water-to-water geothermal unit is an ideal solution that can be installed at minimal additional cost when replacement is needed or desired. You’ll recover the cost of ground loop installation within 3-5 years in most cases and then enjoy lower energy bills during the long lifetime of your new system.
Rely on Cost and Savings Calculations from a Texas Geothermal Contractor
It’s easy to find experienced HVAC contractors who have installed many of these money-saving, eco-friendly systems in both new and existing homes throughout Texas, from Baytown, Sheldon and Sugar Land to Monaville, Kemah and Atascocita in the greater Houston area, from Quinlan, Seagoville and Rhome to Alvarado, Brazos and McKinney in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and from Christine, LaVernia and Sabinal to Somerset, Helotes and Gruene in the San Antonio area. They’ll be happy to consult with you to evaluate your property and home design. They can give you accurate price quotes for a complete installation that is ideal for your new home design or existing home, with a wide range of models manufactured by WaterFurnace, Carrier, GeoComfort, ClimateMaster and Trane. They’ll also provide calculations to help you estimate payoff times and overall savings over time. Once you have those numbers in hand, you can make the best possible decision for your home and budget.