Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal, or geoexchange, heat pumps (GHPs) are a more expensive prospect and are certainly not a DIY project. GHPs, which require professional installation, take advantage of the constant temperature six feet under your home. Because the subsurface temperature is relatively warm in winter and cool in summer, a GHP can replace both your heating and air conditioning systems.
Residential geothermal heat systems have been used since the 1940s, so they are certainly not a new idea. However, the systems are getting less expensive, more reliable and more technologically advanced.
The best GHPs run water, rather than air, through the system, and can even supply hot water for the house. The newest models have two-speed compressors and variable fans for additional comfort and energy savings.
There are new Energy Star ratings for GHPs to help you choose a reliable, energy-efficient system.
The Department of Energy estimates a GHP for the average-size home would cost about $7,500, but suggests that the initial cost can be repaid in under 10 years by reducing or eliminating heating, cooling and hot water bills.
Geothermal and solar heat systems are not new ideas, but they are becoming more advanced. Also, tax incentives and rising utility bills make these efficient options more attractive.