EPA

 

As the concern about the environment is increasing, it is appropriate that geothermal heat pump systems are increasing in popularity. The Environmental Protection Agency has endorsed geothermal heat pump systems as a partial solution to today's energy problems. The EPA also considers the refrigerant used in these systems, HCFC-22, a part of the interim solution to the CFC issue.

HCFC-22 has an ozone depletion potential only 5 percent of the CFCs previously used most, such as in automobile air conditioning. In addition, geothermal heat pumps use about 25 percent less refrigerant than a comparably sized air-to-air heat pump or air conditioner. Field connections of refrigerant piping are potential sources of leaks. No field connections are required with geothermal heat pump systems. They are sealed at the factory, just like your refrigerator.

The ground loop is made of durable high density polyethylene pipe, which carries a warranty of 20 to 50 years. This helps eliminate the possibility of leaks into a nearby water table. The same type of pipe and pipe fusion methods have been safely used for more than 30 years in natural gas distribution systems.

With geothermal heat pump systems there are no on-site emissions, no flammable materials, and no chimney or flue. Emissions at the power plant are reduced as well. Because the geothermal system is so efficient, it uses much less electric energy.

In one study, a 3 1/2-ton residential system in Indiana reduced the power needed for heating, cooling, and water heating by more than 17 thousand kilowatt hours per year compared to electric resistance heat. This equates to more than 9 tons of coal that would have been burned at the power plant. Annual Carbon dioxide emissions alone were cut by 12 tons. The savings increase with larger systems.

Since the units are installed indoors and are thus not subject to wear and tear due to weather, the average life of a geothermal heat pump is much longer than that of a conventional air source heat pump or air conditioning unit.