With all of the concerns about energy costs, oil and gas supplies, global warming and other environmental effects, renewable energy is currently a hot topic. Renewable energy sources, such as geothermal and solar heating and cooling, provide the ultimate solution: They are free, limitless and completely safe for the environment.
Of course, geothermal and solar heating and cooling do require an initial investment before you can start reaping the rewards. But the huge utility savings — as well as some tax credits — and long life of the equipment offer an attractive return on investment.
Geothermal heating and cooling takes advantage of the soil’s consistent temperature to efficiently keep your home at a consistent temperature. Geothermal systems utilize a heat pump, which uses refrigerant to pump heat into or out of the home. Unlike air-source heat pumps, which face the task of drawing heat from the cold winter air and expelling heat into the hot air of summer, geothermal heat pumps exchange heat with the soil, which remains about 55 degrees year-round. This allows geothermal heat pumps to work at up to 400 percent efficiency, using far less energy than traditional heating and cooling systems.
Whereas geothermal systems can save you energy, solar systems can actually produce energy. There are two main ways you can take advantage of solar energy.
- Solar water heaters provide hot water for your home, with the sun directly heating the water.
- Solar photovoltaic cells convert solar energy into electricity, which can then be used to run whatever electrical devices you have.
If you combine geothermal and solar heating and cooling, for instance, the solar energy can be used to power the geothermal heat pump, potentially lowering your heating and cooling energy costs to zero.
Through 2016, the federal government is offering tax credits good for 30 percent of the cost of buying and installing geothermal and solar heating and cooling systems. The systems do have to meet certain requirements to qualify, though.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about Geothermal heating and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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