Geothermal Heating: Eco-Friendly & Wallet-Friendly
According to new reports, geothermal heating has proven to be among the “most mature and stable platforms” for renewable energy use. In addition to very high customer satisfaction, increased “green” building growth and first-cost reduction programs are helping take geothermal heating into the mainstream, not just in the Eugene area, but throughout the United States.
Geothermal heating has been in use since the late 1940s, and currently sees high use in the Canadian and European retrofit market—approaching 40 percent of upgraded/replaced equipment in some countries. Recent improvements in technology have made it more effective than ever before, and more accessible to the average user. Modern geothermal systems are the most efficient form of heating technology available. They provide unparalleled comfort and exceptional system longevity, along with numerous other tangible benefits for users. Still, until recently, the geothermal heating market in the U.S. has been relatively small.
The U.S. Stimulus Act of 2009 provided tax incentives of 30 percent of cost for geothermal heating installations used in retrofits, upgrades, and new construction. This helped increase the implementation of geothermal systems throughout the United States, and led to the growth of a base of HVAC professionals, such as Missoula, Montana’s Temp Right Service, and suppliers like Noblesville, Indiana’s Chapman Electric.
Geothermal heat pumps produce incredibly high efficiency levels, up to 600 percent, as compared to “traditional” heating systems, which generally reach 250 percent efficiency at best. This is achieved by exchanging cool, above-ground air with the constant and consistent underground heat found just a few feet below the surface. Geothermal systems can be used to heat and cool homes, as well as produce hot water, and, in general, are quieter, last longer, and require less maintenance. A video explaining the basics of geothermal heating technology in greater detail can be found at energy.gov.
Geothermal utility services like Canada’s GeoTility continue to grow, allowing for easier and more reliable implementation of geothermal HVAC technology. A stated 32 percent reduction in the default rate among green home mortgages has been reported by U.S. Money News magazine. Ninety-four percent of green homeowners surveyed in a National Association of Home Builders study stated that they would recommend a green home to a friend. And, as the housing market is projected to include up to 38 percent “green” housing by 2016, everything adds up to geothermal heating making a strong, permanent push into the mainstream.