How Efficient is Geothermal Heating?


Heating your home during the cold O’Fallon winters can often come at a pretty steep price in terms of your utility bill. On especially cold days, it can seem like your furnace never stops running, using lots of electricity or natural gas in the process. While it’s important to keep your home warm during the winter for the comfort of your family and the safety of your plumbing pipes, doing so doesn’t have to be expensive or inefficient.

In fact, one option, geothermal heating, provides exceptional efficiencies to the point that you’ll wonder why you ever heated your home any other way. At Hoff Heating & AC, we’re proud to be able to install these exceptional systems, and we want to tell you more about them to see if one could be right for you.

What Is a Geothermal Heating System?

A geothermal heating system is a high-efficiency heating and cooling system. The system uses a series of pipes buried under the ground that is filled with refrigerant to transfer energy from under the ground to the interior of your home. Inside your home, a geothermal system has a unit that changes the temperature of the refrigerant to thereby change its pressure to keep the refrigerant moving in the system. When the system is in heating mode, the refrigerant is at its warmest when it’s in your home, meaning that when air moves over the refrigerant line, the temperature of the air increases.

What Makes a Geothermal System So Efficient?

To increase the temperature of the air in your home, a heating system has to transfer energy from a fuel source to the air. In a furnace, this fuel source is either a gas burner or an electric heating element. Unfortunately, pumping in energy to create heat is not especially efficient.

On the other hand, a geothermal heating system doesn’t use energy to create heat. Instead, a geothermal system from Hoff Heating & AC simply moves the heat energy that already exists underground from the ground to your home. To accomplish this task only requires that the system is capable of changing the temperature of the refrigerant to the point that it can keep moving. Fortunately, this requires very little energy, making a geothermal system one of the most efficient ways to heat your home.

Longevity of Geothermal Equipment

Another huge benefit of geothermal systems that owners love is that geothermal equipment lasts for a long time. Since they aren’t subjected to sudden temperature changes in the same way that typical HVAC equipment is, geothermal heat pumps don’t accumulate as much wear and tear. This means that the interior components of a geothermal system can last for 20 years or more. Better than that is that the underground components of a geothermal system can last up to 50 years. Compared to a typical furnace, which may only last 10 or 15 years, it’s easy to see why geothermal systems from Hoff Heating & AC make such a great investment.

Built for Yards of All Sizes

Perhaps you’re intrigued by the idea of a geothermal system, but you’re thinking to yourself, “my yard is too small for a geothermal installation.” The good news is that geothermal systems can be installed in all but the smallest yards. That’s because the underground infrastructure for a geothermal system can be installed either vertically or horizontally.

In a horizontal setup, the refrigerant lines take up a larger surface area but aren’t buried as deeply underground. In a vertical setup, the refrigerant lines take up only a small surface area but can extend quite far below the surface. Although a vertical installation tends to be more expensive up front, it still makes a great option for those with small yards.

Heating and Cooling Capabilities

Underground, where the refrigerant lines in a geothermal system are buried, the temperature stays fairly constant throughout the year. This means that the underground temperature tends to be warmer than the air temperature in the winter and colder than the air temperature in the summer. Therefore, you can utilize your geothermal system for both heating and cooling responsibilities, ensuring your home stays comfortable year-round at a fraction of the operating cost of a typical HVAC system.

In the summer, rather than pulling heat from under the ground, a geothermal system pulls heat from your home and releases it underground due to thermodynamics. This means that you have an essentially unlimited supply of energy to heat and cool your home buried right in your own backyard.

Recommended System Maintenance

Once you install a geothermal system from Hoff Heating & AC, it’s vital that you maintain it so that you can protect your investment. As with any other HVAC system, it’s important to change your filter on a regular basis. A clean filter will ensure that the correct volume of air flows through the system and keeps the system’s components at a safe temperature.

It’s also a good idea to check the drain pans underneath the evaporator coil to ensure they are emptying as they should. If they aren’t, you’ll need to clear your drain line to prevent a major mess in your utility area. A technician with Hoff Heating & AC will be able to perform further maintenance, including checking the levels of refrigerant in your system. To maintain peak performance, twice-annual maintenance is recommended.

Other Efficient Heating Systems

If you’re not planning to stay in your home for the next several decades, a geothermal system may not be your best option. The good news, though, is that there are several other efficient heating systems available from Hoff Heating & AC. One especially efficient option is called an air-source heat pump.

Like a geothermal heat pump, an air-source heat pump transfers energy instead of creating it. An air-source heat pump, though, moves this energy from the surrounding air. This means that installing a new air-source heat pump requires no digging, making for a lower upfront cost and a faster return on investment. You can also opt for a two-speed or variable-speed furnace. These systems save energy by using lower fan speeds to move warm air throughout your home on days when the heating demand is lower.

Another Way to Heat Water

As if the energy-saving benefits of a geothermal system weren’t enough, you can also use a geothermal system to provide hot water to your home. You can include a geothermal water heater in-line with your geothermal heat pump so that you can utilize the same underground pipes to provide heat for the air and water in your home. Using this approach replaces the two biggest energy hogs in your home with two exceptionally efficient and durable systems that work together to keep you and your family comfortable.

Always on the Cutting Edge

At Hoff Heating & AC, one of our top goals is to stay on the cutting edge of home comfort technology. This allows us to offer exceptional maintenance, repair, and installation services for furnaces and air conditioners of all types. Plus, we can install a complete line of indoor air quality equipment that can help to keep your air clean and healthy. With an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, you can count on us when you have a home comfort need. To learn more about geothermal systems, contact us at Hoff Heating & AC today.