By Smart Choices editor Kathy Roth Eastman
As a conference coordinator for the Momentum Is Building conference, which shares energy-efficient home building techniques with building trades professionals and electric cooperative staff, I am always interested in what experts have to say about a variety of topics.
At this year’s conference, I approached our geothermal exhibitors and asked them to share the “top 5 reasons to switch to geothermal.” I asked them to weigh in and let us know why, in their experience, consumers in our area make the switch to geothermal.
The following combines comments from ProudGreenHome.com with details provided by two of our Momentum Is Building exhibitors: Rick Rockacy, WaterFurnace, and Mace Hensen, Comfort Products.
First, details from ProudGreenHome (with a few edits by Rick Rockacy):
1. Geothermal systems range from 400-500 percent energy efficient. Homeowners can save significantly on their monthly utility bills by replacing traditional systems, which max out in the mid-90 percent range of energy efficiency, with a geothermal heating and cooling system.
2. Geothermal heating and cooling units use the Earth’s energy, accessible 6-7 feet underground. There are different loop designs available (vertical and horizontal), depending on the amount of land or yard size available, as well as whether a pond or well is accessible. This type of energy is a constant resource that isn’t subject to high or low temperatures, presence or lack of sunshine, or wind speed.
3. Geothermal energy is considered green because it doesn’t require the use of fossil fuels, reduces the emission of greenhouse gases, and will lower the user’s carbon footprint.
4. This type of system has a much longer lifespan than that of a traditional system. Due to the loop system being buried underground, undisturbed, and not exposed to harsh weather conditions, and the unit itself being housed indoors, there will be minimal wear and tear. Geothermal systems require much less maintenance and repair as well.
5. Geothermal units provide very consistent heating and cooling. Homeowners enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures all year long, as well as superior humidity control.
Rick adds the following details to keep in mind:
1. Through 2016, there are tremendous tax credits available, including a 30 percent federal credit, along with a 6 percent state of Iowa credit.
2. In addition, in the state of Iowa, there is no increase in assessed value for your home (note that this expires 12/31/2016).
1. Remember that even the most efficient “fossil-fuel” furnace is only going to be 98 percent efficient. This means that if you put $1 into the operation of a fossil-fuel furnace (propane or natural gas) you get 98 cents of heating energy out of it. When you put $1 into the operation of a geothermal heating system you should get around $4 or more of heating energy out of it. Considering Iowans heat for approximately 7 months a year and cool for 2-3 months, the major savings in heating and cooling is in the heating season with a geothermal system.
2. With the current incentives in place the cost difference between a high-end fossil-fuel heating and cooling system and a geothermal system is pretty slim. When you calculate the rebates your electric cooperative offers, add the federal and state tax credit, and figure your per kilowatt rate savings for geothermal, you’ll recoup the difference between systems easily within 5 to 7 years!
Rick Rockacy: Rick.Rockacy@waterfurnace.com; www.waterfurnace.com
Mace Hensen: www.comfortproducts.com