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Triple O Heating, Cooling, Electrical & Plumbing Blog

Triple-O’s Guide to Geothermal

Geothermal energy is one of the fastest-growing residential and commercial technologies. Where homeowners once saw using geothermal power as out of their reach—both in terms of cost and space—the ground-source heat pump is now a common installation in more homes than ever before.

At Triple-O, we’re invested in helping homeowners discover the benefits of geothermal technology for heating and cooling their homes. Below, we’ve provided a short guide to geothermal power as a home comfort system. If you want more information about geothermal in Rochester, NY, our team is happy to answer all your questions and help you make the best choice for the future of heating and cooling your house.

What is geothermal technology?

Geothermal technology is a method to access steady heat levels underground. About 6 to 10 feet below the frostline, the temperature of the earth remains fairly constant, unaffected by weather conditions topside. Geothermal systems use buried ground loops carrying a mixture of water and antifreeze to carry heat both to and from the earth. 

The standard geothermal comfort system is a type of heat pump. Unlike a standard heat pump, which either expels heat to the outside air (cooling mode) or draws heat from the outside air (heating mode), a geothermal or ground-source heat pump uses the ground loops to deposit and draw heat. The stable underground temperature is the secret to the many advantages of using a geothermal system.

What are the benefits of geothermal technology?

The main benefits of using geothermal technology for home comfort are reliability and energy savings. Because standard heat pumps use the outdoor air for heat exchange, they’re at the mercy of the outdoor temperature and can lose efficiency because of it. This is especially true in winter, where extremely low outdoor temperatures make it much harder for a heat pump to draw enough air to bring indoors. A geothermal heat pump has no problem with outdoor temperatures: the coldest day in January doesn’t change the underground temperature the heat pump uses for heat exchange.

Along with this reliability is improved energy efficiency. A geothermal heat pump operates at 4 to 6 times higher efficiency than an air-source heat pump. The savings from this are significant enough for a geothermal system to pay back its installation costs in a few years.

And a geothermal system will last many years. The ground loops, the most expensive and difficult part of the installation, can last more than 50 years.

Geothermal systems are beneficial for the environment: they reduce the amount of energy drawn from the power grid and help lower the dependency on coal energy required to provide electricity to homes. 

How often does a geothermal system need maintenance?

Much less than people think! The standard heat pump components of a geothermal system, i.e. most of the aboveground components, require the same level of maintenance as any standard heat pump. We recommend twice-yearly inspections and tune-ups for the heat pump, once in spring and then again in fall. The underground elements don’t need much maintenance at all except for an occasional flush to eliminate possible build-up. 

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