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Heat pumps  Smart Choices Archive

Heat pumps

Energy Efficiency: Heating, Cooling, Ventilation

Your Touchstone Energy Cooperative is available to help you compare the most energy-efficient heating options for your home or business, as well as provide details about rebates and incentives.

Geothermal (ground-source) heat pumps
Geothermal heat pump systems – which offer both heating and cooling – rely on the constant temperature of the earth below the frost line (in Iowa, the frost line is about 6-7 feet below the surface). In the winter, geothermal units transfer heat from the ground into your home to provide heating. In the summer, geothermal units transfer the heat from your home into the ground so that your home can be cooled. The heat is transferred by pumping water and biodegradable antifreeze through buried ground loops; the circulated liquid transfers the heat.

Advantages of geothermal
• Geothermal units are an average of 51% more efficient than traditional HVAC systems, and you can save between 31 and 71% on your heating and cooling bill, compared to conventional systems. Actual energy savings will vary, depending on the equipment, installation, geology and climate. ENERGY STAR labeled ground source heat pumps use 40-60% less energy than air source heat pumps.
• Geothermal systems have a much longer lifespan than traditional HVAC systems, because the loops are buried underground, not exposed to harsh weather, and the units are housed indoors, with no exposure to water, snow and winds. Many manufacturers warrant the loop piping for 50 years.
• There are no “on” or “off” cycles, meaning your home will be a constant temperature, with no temperature fluctuations.
• It’s possible to obtain hot water as a by-product of the geothermal process, too.

• Your REC offers rebates for geothermal heating/cooling sytems.
• There are tax credits available through 2016, including 30% federal and 6% state. In addition, in Iowa there is no increase in assessed value in a home for adding a geothermal unit through 2016.

Watch a brief video: REC Members Love Their Geothermal


Air-source heat pumps
When properly installed, an air-source heat pump delivers 1-1/2 to 3 times more heat energy than it consumes; that’s because these units move heat rather than converting it from a fuel as combustion heating systems do. Instead, they extract heat from one place and move it to another, much like a refrigerator does. Because moving heat is easier than generating it, an air-source heat pump is much more efficient and costs less to operate compared to conventional heat sources.

Advantages of air-source heat pumps
• These units have a lower initial cost than geothermal units.
• Both heating and air-conditioning are offered by one unit, which can be cost-effective when compared to traditional HVAC equipment or central air conditioniers alone.
• While past air-source heat pump units have been best suited to warmer climates, newer units are able to work more effectively in colder temperatures. While supplemental heat may still be necessary on the coldest days, newer technologies offer dual-fuel, low-temperature, cold-climate and all-climate heat pumps.
• One type of heat pump – ductless mini split heat pumps – do not require ductwork.
• There are rebates available from your electric cooperative.

Watch a brief video: REC Members Love Their Air Source Heat Pump



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