ACI Northwest Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Geothermal’

Why Consider a Geothermal Heating System?

Friday, November 14th, 2014

You’ve probably heard about heat pumps, and the extremely energy efficient way in which they provide heat to a home. This is done not by creating heat through combustion, but by moving thermal energy in the surrounding air from one place to the other. This saves a great deal on heating costs, but most heat pumps come with some caveats. All of their heating ability depends on the temperature of the air around the exterior unit. As a lower temperature will by definition lower the amount of available thermal energy, a heat pump’s heating efficiency drops with the temperature. So what do you do when you want to have a heat pump for its myriad advantages, but live in a colder climate? That’s where geothermal heating comes in.

What is Geothermal Heating?

A geothermal heating system is another kind of heat pump, which operates on the same principle of moving thermal energy instead of creating it. The difference between it and other heat pumps, however, is how it obtains this thermal energy. A geothermal system uses a loop of subterranean pipe to siphon heat from the ground. This pipe is usually installed in a backyard, approximately ten feet underground, and filled with either water or some kind of refrigerant. This pipe loop is then linked to the heat pump inside the house.

Once you get a few feet underground, the temperature is a fairly constant 55-60 degrees regardless of season. A geothermal heat pump relies on this constant temperature to help it heat a house. Though 55-60 degrees may not seem like a warm temperature, it is likely higher than the temperature outside on many winter days. The heat pump cycles the water, or refrigerant, into the central unit, taking the underground thermal energy with it. It then uses that thermal energy as a boost to reach the desired indoor air temperature. By relying on this constant underground temperature, a geothermal system avoids the sub-zero climates that can prevent most heat pumps from heating a home. Thus, it provides all of the benefits of a heat pump without one of the biggest drawbacks.

If you’re thinking of installing a geothermal heat pump, call ACI Northwest. We provide heating installation services throughout Coeur d’Alene.

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How Can Geothermal Improve My Heating System?

Monday, February 17th, 2014

If you’ve heard of geothermal heating, you might think that it’s out of your reach as an option for your home. But there’s a good chance that your house is in an ideal location for geothermal installation, and in the hands of trained technicians the process is not burdensome all. It’s definitely an alternative to consider if you want to upgrade to a new heating system.

And make no mistake, geothermal heating can be a major improvement over your current heater. If you already have a heat pump, a geothermal model will offer some impressive benefits. The benefits are ever greater if you plan to switch from a standard furnace.

Here are some way geothermal can improve your heating system in Hayden, ID. Call our geothermal experts at ACI Northwest to learn more.

Geothermal offers reliable heating

Standard air-source heat pumps can have trouble returning high levels of warmth when the temperature drops too far and extracting heat from the outside air becomes difficult. But a geothermal heat pump (a ground-source heat pump) uses the stable temperature of the earth so it never will encounter an outdoor temperature too cold for it.

Geothermal reduces energy bills

There are few heating systems available today that run with such high energy efficiency as geothermal ones. Although some homeowners shy away from the cost of installation, the U.S. EPA has found that most geothermal systems will pay for themselves with energy savings in 5–10 years… and they will last much longer than that.

Geothermal helps the environment

Where furnaces produce a large amount of exhaust and emissions, a geothermal heat pump produces almost none at all. If you want to “go green” with your home, a geothermal system is one of the best ways to achieve it.

Geothermal is quiet

Since much of the work in geothermal systems occurs underground, they run with almost no noise pollution.

Geothermal is safe

Going hand-in-hand in the lower emissions, geothermal systems pose almost no safety risks due to burning fuel or potential fire hazards.

There are a few drawbacks to geothermal systems, and the main one is that they will not work with every property. If you are interested in having a geothermal heat pump installed for your heating in Hayden, ID, you should contact specialists and have them look over your home and property to determine if geothermal is the ideal choice. You should also have these specialists handle the installation if you do decide on geothermal; trust us, this is an immense task, and you’ll be glad to have experts handling it.

Contact ACI Northwest today, and we’ll find out what kind of geothermal system will benefit you, and will make sure you have a great installation.

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How to Cool Your Home with Geothermal Air Conditioning

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

We all want to stay cool in our homes and we want our air conditioners to work as efficiently as possible. One of the most efficient AC systems on the market is geothermal air conditioning systems. These types of systems use the free and endless energy of the earth to provide cooling to your home. The air conditioning professionals at ACI Northwest have years of experience working on all different kinds of geothermal systems. We know that homeowners are looking for any way to reduce their energy usage and we wanted to share with you how geothermal systems are able to do that in an efficient and environmentally friendly way.

Types of Geothermal Systems

There are a few different types of geothermal systems available on the market. But the general idea behind them is that they are heat pumps: they move heat from one area to another. Their major differences are where the move that heat to.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Probably the most common geothermal air conditioning systems are ground-source. If you dig down about 10 feet into the ground the temperature there is around 55° F—and it stays that temperature all year long. Ground source heat pumps use that consistent temperature to provide cooling to your home. However, in order to take advantage of that temperature, ground-source heat pumps need to have a lot of space available for the installation of a long series of coils. The coils are filled with refrigerant which is what actually carries the heat from your home into the ground. The Spokane air conditioning professionals at ACI Northwest offer fast and accurate installation services for homeowners that are interested in this type of system.

Water Source Heat Pumps

Water source heat pumps operate in a similar fashion to ground-source heat pumps. But as their name implies, they use a body of water to provide cooling. This means that as a homeowner you will need to have consistent access to a body of water like a stream, pond or lake. Water source heat pump coils are submerged in the body of water where the refrigerant will be able to deposit heat from your home. If you would like to learn more about geothermal systems just call the Spokane air conditioning installation experts at ACI Northwest.

Here at ACI Northwest, we know that you’re looking to stay comfortable in your home and use as little energy as possible. Geothermal air conditioning systems are a great option for homeowners that have the capacity for them.

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Geothermal FAQ: What Are the Advantages of Installing a Water Source Heat Pump

Monday, January 14th, 2013

If you have a body of water on your property and are looking to boost energy efficiency in your Spokane home with a geothermal heating and cooling system, consider installing a water-source heat pump system. Like other heat pumps, such as air-source or other geothermal models, water-source heat pumps transfer energy rather than consume fuel to create it.

Water source heat pumps pull this energy from water, and the more constant temperature at the depth they are submerged at can make them more effective than air-source models, as air is much more susceptible to temperature fluctuations. If a water source heat pump system sounds like a heating option you may be interested for your home, call the geothermal specialists at ACI Northwest today. We’ll make sure that you get the best system for your personal needs.

There are two basic types of water-source heat pumps. You can choose either an open or closed loop system. Both are effective, but the water source on your property will ultimately determine which is best for your Spokane area home. We can answer any questions you have about water-source heat pump loop systems, so don’t hesitate to call with questions.

A closed loop system is generally more expensive but does not actually use any of the water from your water source. A coil is installed beneath the water, and this closed loop acts as a heat exchanger. An antifreeze solution circulates throughout the loop system and heat is absorbed from the water. This heat can then be used in your home. When it is warm out a water-source heat pump can be reversed, dumping excess heat from your home back to the water source.

An open loop system does not make use of an antifreeze solution. Rather, the water from the source on your property is used itself to absorb and circulate heat. It is pumped through a heat exchanger and at the end of the cycle is simply dumped back to the source. There are certain requirements necessary for this type of installation, as well as a closed loop system, and permits may be required. Be sure to work with a qualified professional to ensure that everything is done according to code.

Contact ACI Northwest for all your geothermal needs!

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Is Geothermal Energy Renewable?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Geothermal heating systems take heat from the ground and transfer it to your St. Maries home. But how does this heat get into the ground in the first place? Conventional heating systems like furnaces use energy sources like oil or natural gas to generate heat. These energy sources are not renewable, and neither is electricity which is typically generated by burning coal or another non-renewable resource.

The renewable resources we usually think of first are solar and wind power. The sun, of course, will continue to shine and provide heat year in and year out whether we make use of it or not. Similarly, we cannot use up the wind. It will continue to blow no matter how many times it has blown before.

But what category does geothermal energy fit into exactly? Well, it is actually a renewable resource just like solar or wind energy. In fact, geothermal energy is a direct result of the sun’s heat relentlessly pounding the ground. The ground actually absorbs a considerable amount of the heat from the sun that reaches the earth every day, and that is the heat that your geothermal heating system is using to heat your home.

Of course, a geothermal heating system cannot run on geothermal energy alone. The indoor components of this heating system that keep the air flowing throughout your house must be powered by electricity. But the amount of energy needed to do this is much less than what you would need to use to run a furnace or other type of more conventional home heating system.

Over all, geothermal energy is an excellent and renewable source of energy. And once you have the heating system in place, you will need to spend very little to keep it up and running. It is an excellent option for many people, and can help to keep your home cool in the summer as well.

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Components of a Geothermal Heating System: A Guide from ACI Northwest

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

A geothermal heat system in your Hayden home has three basic components and some add-on ones as well.

Its most distinguishing feature is the ground loops. The most common is the “closed” ground loop system, which is a series of pipes that are buried underground. These pipes contain a heat transfer fluid, comprised of antifreeze and water. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the home. This fluid also absorbs heat from the house and sends it into the ground to keep the home cool.

Examples of closed loop systems include the horizontal closed loop, which can be used in larger parcels of land (over an acre for example). The loops are placed typically placed horizontally 6-to-10 feet below the surface. A vertical closed loop design is recommended for smaller parcels of land and loops are often buried vertically approximately 20 feet underground. Other types of ground loop designs use well water to transfer heat in an open loop configuration, or have a closed loop submerged underwater in a pond or lake.

The next component is the heat pump, which draws the fluid from the ground loop. In a heat pump, heat energy is exchanged with the ground to heat or cool the home. In the heating mode, fluid warmed from underground flows through the heat pump. A fan blows across the pipe warmed by the fluid. Because the fluid is much warmer than the air inside the heat pump, heat energy is released into the cooler air. The cool air is warmed and distributed inside the home. The process is reversed for cooling. Cool fluid in the pipe absorbs heat from the warm air inside the home. Once pumped underground, the excess heat in the fluid is absorbed by the cooler earth.

The final component is the air handling or distribution system. Here, a fan in the heat pump’s furnace blows air over a fan coil and the heated cooled air is distributed through the home’s ductwork. Some distribution systems are hydronic, where hot water is circulated through radiators or radiant floor heat tubing. This water absorbs heat from the heat pump and then distributed throughout the home.

In some homes, both a forced air and hydronic system, often referred to as a “hybrid system” work together.

Optional components include a heat pump “desuperheater,” which is used to help with domestic hot water heating. In warm weather, the desuperheater recovers some of the heat – that would otherwise be sent to the ground loop – to help produce hot water. In cold weather, some of the heat pump capacity may be diverted from space heating for the same purpose. Desuperheaters save approximately 25% on domestic water heating costs.

Another component is an auxiliary electric heater, which is built into the geothermal heat pump This auxiliary electric heat is installed to allow heating and cooling technicians to size – or resize – a home’s geothermal heat pump system to assist the system during the few coldest days of the year. Auxiliary electric heat is also an emergency backup heat source if there are any operational issues with the geothermal heat pump system.

If you have any questions about this system, talk to your local contractor.

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How Often Should I Have My Geothermal System Checked? A Question from Greenacres

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The beauty of a geothermal system for your Greenacres home is that is requires very little maintenance. They have fewer mechanical components are than other heating systems – and most of these components are underground or inside, shielded from the outdoor elements. The underground tubing usually is guaranteed to last 25-50 years and inside components are easily accessible for servicing.

Nonetheless, keeping a geothermal system working at peak efficiency is very important. If the geothermal system loses some of its efficiency, it will cost home and building owners money in energy costs, which makes little sense since geothermal system installation costs are higher than most other heating systems.

Its key component is the ground loop system, polyethelene tubing which carries refrigerant from below the Earth’s surface and back to an above-ground compressor. When installed correctly, the buried ground loop can last for decades. A leak in the metal tubing is usually the only problem if the ground loop is not installed correctly. In the case of a leak, it may be necessary to dig up the tubing – often installed at least ten feet below the surface – and repair the leak.

Other geothermal system components include its air handling unit, compressor, and pump. These components require periodic system checks by qualified professional heating and cooling technicians. Maintenance normally requires filter changes and component lubrication, to name the most common. In some cases, building owners can perform their own filter replacement and refill of lubricants. However, it is recommended that an experienced technician perform a multiple-point inspection of the geothermal system components, usually during regularly scheduled annual or bi-annual service calls.

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How Effective is Geothermal Heating? A Question From Cocolalla

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Geothermal heating is an efficient way to use the Earth’s natural resources to heat a building’s interior in Cocolalla. But is it an effective way? Of course.

Consider the cost of geothermal heating. Once you get past the initial installation costs of a geothermal heating system, which are higher than other conventional heating systems, its operating costs are much lower because of its use of a natural, renewable heat source – the Earth. If you plan to stay in your home for many years, a geothermal heating system will likely pay for itself because according to International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, geothermal operating efficiencies are 50-70% higher than other heating systems, which represents a substantial lowering of energy costs.

And according to a leading electric utility company, the cost of electricity for operating a geothermal heat pump is lower than any other heating system which includes natural gas, propane, and oil.

Beyond lower energy costs, geothermal heating leaves a smaller carbon footprint than other heating systems. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the average U.S. home is 17%, most of which comes from burning fossil fuels for electricity. Geothermal uses natural heat from the ground and therefore uses 30-60% less energy than more conventional heating and cooling systems. Using less energy equals less carbon dioxide production.

A geothermal heating system is only as effective as the equipment used to deliver it throughout the building. The most common delivery method is through a ground source heat pump. This pump pulls the heat from the earth and distributes it. When properly installed and maintained, a ground source heat pump can last 15-20 years and provide an excellent source for heating – and cooling.

The components of a geothermal system also include a compressor, air handling unit, and duct system. When all are installed and maintained correctly, a geothermal heating system will be just as effective in heating a building’s interior as any other heating system. Just be sure you hire a qualified heating and cooling professional to install and service your geothermal heating system.

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