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Geothermal heat pumps – Advantages and disadvantages

Geothermal energy is becoming increasingly popular renewable energy option in many parts of the world, and geothermal heat pumps have lately been getting lot of talk. In this article I will mostly focus on the most important advantages and disadvantages of geothermal heat pumps. For those of you who want to learn even more make sure to read this article about the working principle of geothermal heat pumps.

I will start with the advantages of using geothermal heat pumps. Since geothermal energy is renewable, environmentally friendly source of energy this means that by using geothermal heat pumps you are actually doing something to help our environment because this way you are not relying on fossil fuels to provide you with heating/cooling services. It also has to be said that ground-source geothermal heat pumps always (I repeat always) produce less greenhouse gases compared to air conditioners.

You should also know that the efficiency of geothermal heat pumps is always better at heating when compared to pure electric heaters, even in times when heat pumps are used to extract heat from cold winter air. This is because geothermal heat pump exchanges heat with the ground, and underground temperatures are more stable than air temperatures throughout the entire year. It also has to be said here that the efficiency of geothermal heat pumps is constantly improving and at this moment geothermal heating systems use between 25% to 50% less electricity compared to conventional heating or cooling systems.

Geothermal heat pumps also have very good lifespan, estimated at around 25 years for inside components and 50+ years for the ground loop.

Geothermal heat pumps work very silently unlike some conventional air conditioners that can be quite noisy.

Once geothermal heat pumps are installed they have very low maintenance costs.

Geothermal heat pumps can also add value to your property if you decide to later sell your property.

The major disadvantage of geothermal heat pumps is high initial costs, which are in average three to four times bigger compared to conventional systems. This is the main reason why geothermal heat pumps are still not a widely spread energy option among homeowners and are much more commonly used for larger commercial buildings. However, some countries offer favorable incentives which drive these initial costs down, for instance Canadian province Ontario had incentives over $7000 for residential geothermal heating systems installed in the 2009.

The large initial costs are mostly due to the fact that ground source geothermal heat pumps must have a heat exchanger in order to extract or dissipate heat from the ground, and heat exchanger alone accounts for nearly half of the total system cost.

The installation of geothermal heat pump system requires the high level of technical knowledge, which means that it requires professional service which of course accounts for bigger costs.

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