By National Refrigeration September 24, 2019
Homeowners and business owners in Rhode Island can finally be free from anxiety over the fluctuating prices of heating oil and natural gas. In North America, geothermal heating and cooling systems are becoming the best energy-efficient choice for private, commercial, and municipal buildings and their occupants.
Also called geo-exchange and ground-source heat pump systems, the global market for geothermal HVAC is forecast to reach $4 billion by 2024, according to The NEWS, a popular HVAC industry newsletter.
“Home and building owners recognize there are more benefits to geothermal heat pumps than cost savings, like superior comfort, cleaner air, no outdoor unit, low maintenance, most environmentally friendly, etc.” —Steve Smith, CEO of Enertech Global (The NEWS)
Rhode Island residential customers, businesses, and municipalities also have access to many state and federal rebate and incentive programs for buying energy-efficient equipment for geothermal heating, cooling, and water heating.
There’s a lot of information on the ways you can make geothermal heat pumps part of your affordable and energy-efficient HVAC system on the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources website at: energy.ri.gov/policies-programs/programs-incentives/index.php.
A complete list of state programs can be found at the DSIRE database: https://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program?state=RI
In 1948, the very first groundwater heat pump for residential use was installed in the home of its inventor! Carl Nielsen, a professor at Ohio State University, developed his system based on the work of Prince Piero Ginori Conti, who proved the viability of geothermal power plant technology 44 years earlier, according to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA).
In an open-loop geothermal system, groundwater acts as the heat-transfer fluid. A pump moves groundwater out of a well and re-injects it into the same well or a separate, dedicated well. Along the way, a heat pump either extracts heat from (heating) or transfers heat into (air conditioning) the water.
A closed-loop geothermal system uses a solution as the heat-transfer fluid. The freeze-proof solution continually circulates through the system to absorb or transfer heat through underground piping.
Instead of relying on fossil fuel, geothermal HVAC systems use free, renewable energy right below the earth’s surface. Electricity is used to run the HVAC equipment, but the actual heating and cooling happens thanks to the earth’s ambient temperature. Homeowners can expect efficiencies between 300% and 600% on Rhode Island winter nights, according to the Energy Informative nonprofit.
When compared to a conventional HVAC system, the fuel savings from geothermal plus an energy-efficient heat pump equals up to 70% savings on heating costs and up to 50% on cooling costs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Choose an ENERGY STAR®-rated geothermal HVAC system, and you can expect “extremely reliable” equipment that “seldom need repairs,” according to the Energy Informative. Manufacturers are standing by these units with up to 50-year warranties on the underground piping and 25-year warranties on heat pumps, according to the nonprofit.
Consumers who make the investment in a new ENERGY STAR®-rated geothermal heating & cooling system can expect a return on their investment in 5 to 7 years, based on research and analysis by the Energy Informative.
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