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The key to saving money on home heating and cooling is energy efficiency. Simply put, the more efficient your HVAC system is, the more profit you will make. You may want to know: is a conventional furnace or a geothermal heat pump more efficient?

What Is The Cost Of Geothermal Energy

What Is The Cost Of Geothermal Energy

Some energy is always lost in the heat generation process, and ALL of the energy delivered with a combustion-based furnace comes from the use of a fuel source, whether natural gas, propane or heating oil.

How Things Work: Geothermal Energy

Geothermal heat pumps do not produce heat – they simply transfer it from the ground to your home. For every 1 unit of energy used to power your geothermal system, on average 4 units of thermal energy are supplied. Only about a third to a quarter of the energy delivered in heating with a geothermal system comes from the use of electricity – the rest is extracted from the ground.

Since geothermal heat pumps are more efficient than furnaces, why do they use more electricity (and how will that affect your monthly bill)?

The basic difference between a furnace and a geothermal heat pump is the heat source used to heat the home. A conventional furnace produces heat by burning oil or gas in its combustion chamber, while a geothermal heat pump simply transfers heat from the existing ground.

The furnace uses a very small amount of electricity to power the fan, and other small electrical components, but most of the heat is produced through combustion.

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Geothermal heat pumps use electricity to drive compressors, fans and circulation pumps. This important component helps the heat pump move heat from the ground and bring it into the home through the vapor compression/refrigeration cycle.

Geothermal heat pumps are more efficient and use less electricity for cooling than highly efficient central AC systems. That’s because a standard AC unit pulls hot air from your home and releases it to the hot outdoors, while a geothermal heat pump moves the hot air into the 50-degree ground where it’s more readily available. A typical central AC has a SEER rating of 14-16, while a geothermal heat pump system has an average EER rating of 20-30. Due to this increased efficiency, homeowners with window units, wall units, or traditional central AC prior to installing geothermal typically see their electricity usage decrease in the summer.

Homeowners who previously did not use air conditioning prior to installing geothermal may notice a modest increase in their electric bill.

What Is The Cost Of Geothermal Energy

Electricity consumption will vary based on climate and seasonality. In a heating dominant climate (such as upstate New York), approximately 50% of the additional electricity use associated with your geothermal system will be used in just 3 months: December, January and February.

Benefits Of Geothermal Heating And Cooling Systems

In fact, it is common if your December electricity use with geothermal is four times greater than what you used the previous December heating with an oil furnace.

For example, if your December 2019 electricity usage was 500 kWh, it could be 2,000 kWh in December 2020 after upgrading to geothermal. However, without spending any money on oil or propane, your overall heating expenses for the year will be much lower.

Let’s take a look at a typical 2,500 square foot home in Cortlandt, NY that previously had a fuel oil furnace and central air conditioning prior to installing Dandelion Geothermal.

This home will use an additional 6,995 kWh of electricity annually while saving $1,581 or 47% of their total heating and cooling costs annually with geothermal heating and cooling. In the example below, a 2,500 square foot home has an annual heating load of 94,664,410 BTUs and an annual cooling load of 27,656,620 BTUs.

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Before getting geothermal, the furnace was 15 years old and operating at 75% efficiency due to age and wear & tear. Homeowners pay $3.30 per gallon of fuel and continue to pay $0.188 per kWh of electricity.

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A geothermal system will run most efficiently when the thermostat is kept at a single temperature set point throughout the day. Many homeowners are accustomed to adjusting their thermostats, however, if they plan to be away from home or sleep. This practice, known as thermostat setback, often saves money and energy when operating a fossil fuel furnace.

What Is The Cost Of Geothermal Energy

This practice is not productive when operating a geothermal system. Unlike a furnace, a geothermal system is carefully designed to meet the exact heating and cooling needs of a home. To recover from periods of setbacks, stressed geothermal systems may need help from additional heat sources such as electric resistance heaters. As a result, thermostat setbacks force geothermal systems to frequently rely on expensive auxiliary systems, inadvertently increasing average operating costs.

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We recommend homeowners set their thermostats to the same temperature as the previous system. Regardless of the heat source—fuel or geothermal—it costs more to heat a house to 75°F than 70°F.

The Dandelion Geothermal heat pump has different heating stages for different heating needs: part load, full load and Auxiliary Heat (AUX). AUX heat will automatically turn on when demand for heat is highest, providing additional electrical resistance heat to keep your home comfortable.

AUX Heat is a normal part of a heat pump system and is sometimes needed, but it uses more electricity than the other heating stages. It is usually activated intermittently for short periods when the outside temperature drops below 15°F.

Electricity rates vary, which will affect the total payment even if consumption is relatively unchanged. Supply rates are affected by weather patterns, market factors, ESCO providers (if used), etc. It is important to compare kWh prices (in addition to kWh consumption) when comparing past and current electricity bills.

How Much Does It Cost To Operate A Geothermal Heating And Cooling System?

Some utility companies only read your electricity meter every month, despite monthly billing. This means that – during months where the meter is not read – your consumption, and therefore your electricity bill, is estimated. For customers switching to electric heating with geothermal, it is common for these utility companies to “underestimate” electricity usage during the winter when the meter does not actually read.

Unexpected high usage in the following month, when the meter is read and authorization occurs. Fortunately, the two-month average is still accurate, and this is a short-term issue as utility company estimates will improve once they obtain better data on new usage patterns.

Learn more about how Dandelion makes it easy to incorporate Geothermal Heating and Cooling into your next build. Most of the geothermal resources that can now be developed in Alaska are larger than needed to meet local demand, or are far too significant to require significant investment in transmission lines. According to the paper, ‘Factors Affecting the Cost of Geothermal Energy Development’, the capital cost for a geothermal project can be broken down as follows. It is important to note that these relative costs can vary significantly depending on the remoteness of resources and access to equipment and technology:

What Is The Cost Of Geothermal Energy

The total capital cost, including all the development elements shown in the figure above, is between $3000 – $3900 per kW for a large plant (100MW) in 2007 dollars. Smaller plants, like the one installed at Chena Hot Springs, are expected to cost more. Considering exploration and all other elements of the Chena project, the total capital cost of the project is $6275 per kW.

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Operation and maintenance costs for geothermal power plants are estimated at $15 MW-$30 per MW, or 1.5¢-3¢ per kWh. For the Chena project, O&M costs are calculated at 2¢ per kWh.

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If you want to discuss the content of this page – this is the easiest way to do it. One of the main reasons many homeowners choose geothermal is the benefit of lower operating costs. Costs for heating, cooling and hot water can add up to 75% of a home’s total utility costs. Therefore, the biggest opportunity to save utility costs is to improve the efficiency of the system. That’s where geothermal can help in a big way.

For every one unit of energy purchased, one geothermal unit can deliver up to four units of energy because it uses energy from the earth. In many scenarios, geothermal systems are significantly less expensive to operate than conventional forced air heating and cooling systems. Geothermal systems can save up to 70% in heating costs, up to 50% in cooling costs.* And, they can save additional energy on domestic hot water costs.

Pdf] Cost Of Geothermal Power And Factors That Affect It

One way to compare efficiency is to calculate the cost for 1 million BTUs of heat transfer. Using standard formulas, “apples to apples” comparisons can be made based on local fuel rates and equipment efficiency. The table on the right shows typical savings opportunities with geothermal. To get a full picture for your home, call us at 319-337-3520.

*Savings calculated using LoopLink

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