Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Geothermal Installation’

What Is Geothermal Cooling All About?

Monday, May 6th, 2019

animated-picture-of-white-house-with-geothermal-tubes-going-into-groundWhen you think about air conditioning and heating systems, you probably envision the traditional central split air conditioner and furnace combination. After all, that’s what most homes in our area are equipped with.

And when most people hear the term geothermal, they’re likely to think of heat. This makes sense–after all, the word thermal is right there in the name. As a matter of fact, geothermal heat pump systems are, indeed, a great way to bring warmth into a home. That’s not all they do, though!

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Common Misunderstandings About Geothermal Systems

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Geothermal systems aren’t new, but they have become more popular over the last few years with homeowners as technology has made them more accessible. The concept of geothermal heating and cooling– using the Earth’s steady temperature to heat and cool homes – can sometimes lead to misunderstandings about how the system is installed and operates. The fact is, geothermal installation and use in Pittsburgh is pretty straightforward and may be a great option for your home. Our Boehmer Heating & Cooling technicians have put together a list of common misunderstandings to help dispel any confusion about geothermal.

Common Myths About Geothermal Systems:

  • You need a lot of yard space to install a geothermal system – geothermal systems can be installed either horizontally or vertically. As such, if you have a small yard, you can install a vertical ground loop that won’t take up that much square footage.
  • Geothermal systems only heat – geothermal systems provide both heating and cooling, and do it very efficiently with the help of a heat pump.
  • The installation process will destroy my yard – while the ground loop does require excavation, your yard and any landscaping will be returned to the state it was in before the installation.
  • A geothermal system won’t generate enough heat or cooling for my home – on the contrary, there is more than enough energy to go around with a geothermal system, and it’s 2-3 times more efficient than traditional HVAC systems.
  • It’s really hard to repair a ground loop leak – not so. The ground loop is designed so that should a leak occur, a technician will inject dye into the system and see on the ground level where the dye appears. This helps pinpoint where the leak is and the technician can conduct the repair.

The key with any geothermal installation and repair in Pittsburgh is ensuring you hire and work with professionals with the knowledge and expertise needed to install a geothermal system. This is where Boehmer Heating & Cooling comes in. We’ve been around since 1933, and we’ve learned every new system that has come to the market for the past 8 decades. If you are interested in seeing what a geothermal system can do for your home, call us today.

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Is Geothermal a Good Cooling Option in Pittsburgh?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Every year, thousands of homeowners are turning to geothermal heating and cooling for its highly-efficient, cost-reducing, and eco-friendly energy. It is very similar to how a heat pump works, and shares most of the same components. But it differs from the air source heat pump in its capacity to harness the energy of the earth. When looking at cooling options in your area, you’ll have to take into consideration your cooling needs, the size and location of your home, as well as your budget. A geothermal system can be an innovative and reliable way to make your home comfortable this cooling season. For more information, or to schedule a consultation with a Pittsburgh geothermal expert, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

The two major components of your geothermal cooling system are underground piping, also known as the “earth loop,” and the geothermal heat pump. Depending on your location and the topography of your land, your geothermal piping will be arranged either in a shallow horizontal bed, or in deep vertical wells. The pipes are typically made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and they circulate the water-refrigerant mixture in a closed or open loop. The geothermal heat pump is just like a regular heat pump, but instead of transferring heat indoors and outdoors by drawing it in and out of the air, it draws the heat from the earth loop during the winter, and disperses it into the earth loop during summer.

Geothermal Benefits:

  • Efficiency: Geothermal cooling can often cut your bills in half. The heat pump uses very little energy when compared to a standard air conditioner.
  • Durability: As an alternative to other systems, geothermal cooling systems are made with durable materials that are intended to survive the elements and last many years.
  • Eco-friendly: In a world of every-increasing energy demands, it can be comforting to know that you rely on the temperature of the earth under your feet to cool your home. You’ll not only save money, but you can also reduce the production of ozone-depleting substances.

All in all, geothermal cooling is a great option. For more information, or to schedule a consultation with a Pittsburgh geothermal cooling expert, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today!

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Pittsburgh Geothermal Question: Is Geothermal Installation Possible in My Yard?

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Geothermal systems are a terrific way to potentially reduce the amount of energy that you use to heat and cool your home. Most heating systems have to burn a fuel source in order to create heat. But geothermal systems actually use the endless and free energy stored in the earth to both heat or cool your home. At Boehmer Heating & Cooling, we provide complete geothermal installation in Pittsburgh. Because of the unique way that geothermal systems work, not every home can accommodate them. If you’re interested in having a geothermal system installed at your home, here are a few of the considerations that you need to think about.

How Geothermal Systems Work

If you were to dig down into the ground about 10 feet the temperature there would be about 55° F. No matter what the temperature is outside the ground below the surface will stay that same temperature. Geothermal systems use a long series of coils buried in the ground to take advantage of the energy stored there. A heat pump in your home circulates refrigerant through those coils.

In heating mode, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the ground and moves it into your home. In cooling mode it does the opposite: it removes heat from the air in your home and exhausts it in the ground.

Geothermal Installation in Pittsburgh

During geothermal installation large holes need to be dug into the ground to bury the coils. The coils can be installed vertically in some homes where space is limited. The holes need to be dug very deep into the ground to accommodate the long pipes of refrigerant. In a horizontal installation, a large area of ground is dug out and the coils are laid out and then buried.

If you’re interested in potentially reducing the amount of energy that you use to heat or cool your home, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling for geothermal installation in Pittsburgh.

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How Does Geothermal Heating Work? A Pittsburgh Geothermal Installation Question

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Are you interested in a home heating and cooling option that will allow you to keep your home comfortable while drastically reducing the amount of energy that you use in doing so? Contact the home heating experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling today to learn more about how a professionally installed geothermal heating and cooling system can help you do just that. By utilizing a heat pump and the energy stored right beneath your feet, you too can heat and cool your home in a more efficient, environmentally friendly way. Make your Pittsburgh home a little greener with the installation of a geothermal heating system.

Like other heat pump systems, geothermal heating and cooling systems make use of ambient energy for use in your home. Unlike air-source heat pumps, though, geothermal heat pumps draw this heat from beneath the ground or under the water on your property. A loop system is buried or submerged in your property, and an antifreeze solution is circulated throughout this system. When heat has been gathered the liquid goes through the heat exchanger in the heat pump, and the process is repeated. The conditioned air is then distributed through a ductwork system throughout your home.

Because the temperatures at the depths that these loop systems are either buried or submerged are more constant than that of the air, geothermal systems are actually more dependable than other heat pumps. A number of factors and geological considerations of your property will decide if a geothermal system is right for your home. Only a qualified professional is able to determine this.

If you would like to learn more about the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system in your home, contact the experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling today. A member of staff will be happy to answer all of your questions. We can help you to decide if a geothermal system is the right choice for your Pittsburgh home.

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Pittsburgh Geothermal Guide: Types of Loop Systems

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Energy resources are changing rapidly.  The conventional oil, gas and coal fuels are giving way to alternative sources like wind, solar and hydro.  Geothermal energy is less understood by consumers, but potentially the most abundant source available, nearly as huge a supply as the Earth itself. Many people are considering installing geothermal heating and cooling in Pittsburgh.

From the Greek word “geo” for “earth”, geothermal energy is generated by the natural process of heat gravitating toward cooler temperatures.  The by-product can be captured and utilized simply as heat or converted to electricity. In small, self-contained residential or large commercial applications, this typically happens in either closed or open looped systems.

Closed Loop Geothermal Systems

Systems using water or anti-freeze that run from the pump into the ground and back to the pump continuously are closed looped.  Most efficient for smaller residential systems where land is available, two or three horizontal loops are side by side just a few feet underground.  Sometimes the loops are spiraled underground to extend the overall length in a shorter area.

Where the need for length may be prohibitive to run alongside the building, large commercial buildings and schools often use vertical systems.  A series of holes four inches in diameter are drilled about 20 feet apart and 100–400 feet deep and filled with two pipes connected at the bottom to form a loop. Each loop is connected with a horizontal manifold pipe in a trench which connects to the heat pump in the building. Vertical loops are also the choice when the soil is too shallow for trenching.  This system minimizes the disturbance to existing landscaping.

If the site has an adequate water body, a pond/lake loop may be the lowest cost option where a supply line is run underground directly to the water and coiled into circles at least eight feet under the surface to prevent freezing before looping back to the building.

Open Loop Geothermal Systems

An open loop system takes surface water or a well to use as the heat exchange fluid that circulates directly through the GHP system instead of a piped fluid passing through the surface. Once circulated through the system, the water returns to the ground through the well or a discharge over the surface.

Hybrid systems using a combination of a geothermal loop underground and outdoor air (i.e., a cooling tower), are another technology option, particularly effective when cooling needs are significantly higher than heating needs. Where local geology permits, the “standing column well” is a variation of an open-loop system with one or more deep vertical wells drilled.

Whichever loop is used, it is clear the face of energy is changing and geothermal energy is beginning to play an increasing role of supply to meet the new demand.

For more information about getting geothermal heating and cooling installed in your Pittsburgh home, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling  a call today!

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South Hills Geothermal Tip: Problems Caused by Poor Water Quality in Open Loop Systems

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

As geothermal heating systems go, an open loop configuration can be an excellent choice in South Hills, provided the local geography supports it. Open loop systems work very effectively and efficiently because the deep water is held at an almost constant temperature year round. This property makes it a very good source of heat for the geothermal system.

However, an important factor to consider before choosing an open loop system is the quality of the water coming from the source. Although you won’t drink the water, the quality still matters a great deal, as poor water quality can cause serious problems in your geothermal system.

Let’s take a look at some common water quality problems and the damage they can potentially do to an open loop geothermal system.

 Mineral Deposits

If the water is filled with minerals — frequently called “hard water” — those minerals can be deposited within the geothermal coils. As they build up on the walls over time, they can slow the flow of the water or even clog it completely.

Hard water does not necessarily preclude the use of an open loop system. It just may call for extra maintenance, such as periodically flushing the system with a mild acid solution to remove mineral build-up.

 Impurities

Impurities in water, especially metals like iron, can also cause clogs. Most frequently this occurs in the return well of the geothermal system. Again, these impurities do not necessarily mean an open loop system can’t work for you, but you should consult with the contractor prior to installation for solutions to this problem.

 Particulate and Organic Matter

If you plan to use surface water such as a pond or spring as the source for your open loop system, make sure to test the water composition thoroughly. An excess of sediment or organic matter can clog up your South Hills geothermal system very quickly.

Ideally, these are all situations that your contractor will anticipate and discuss with you ahead of time, so that your open loop system can be installed in such a way as to preempt any problems with water quality. If you have any questions about how a geothermal system will work for your home, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling  a call today!

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Cranberry Geothermal Installation Question: How Effective Is Geothermal Heating?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Geothermal heating is an efficient way to use the Earth’s natural resources to heat a building’s interior in Cranberry. But is it an effective way?

Consider the cost of geothermal heating. Once you get past the initial installation costs of a geothermal heating system, which are higher than other conventional heating systems, its operating costs are much lower because of its use of a natural, renewable heat source – the Earth. If you plan to stay in your home for many years, a geothermal heating system will likely pay for itself because according to International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, geothermal operating efficiencies are 50-70% higher than other heating systems, which represents a substantial lowering of energy costs.

And according to a leading electric utility company, the cost of electricity for operating a geothermal heat pump is lower than any other heating system which includes natural gas, propane, and oil.

Beyond lower energy costs, geothermal heating leaves a smaller carbon footprint than other heating systems. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the average U.S. home is 17%, most of which comes from burning fossil fuels for electricity. Geothermal uses natural heat from the ground and therefore uses 30-60% less energy than more conventional heating and cooling systems. Using less energy equals less carbon dioxide production.

A geothermal heating system is only as effective as the equipment used to deliver it throughout the building. The most common delivery method is through a ground source heat pump. This pump pulls the heat from the earth and distributes it.

The components of a geothermal system also include a compressor, air handling unit, and duct system. When all are installed and maintained correctly, a geothermal heating system will be just as effective in heating a building’s interior as any other heating system. Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling if you have any questions about installation or service for a  geothermal heating system.

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Allison Park-Hampton Geothermal Installation Question: How is Geothermal Different than Other Heating Systems?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

There are many methods to heating a building in Allison Park-Hampton. Early methods included burning coal and wood. Today, sophisticated building controls call for more efficient means of heat – and a method gaining in popularity is geothermal heating.

Many use air handling units to deliver heat – and that method has remained constant over the years. But air handling units are only designed to move air from one space to another. How that air is heated from the source is what differentiates geothermal from other energy sources.

To understand some of the differences, let’s look at the definition of geothermal heat. By definition, geothermal heating comes from its direct use of geothermal energy, which comes from below the Earth’s surface. And the Earth is known as the greatest conductor of heat. The constant, renewable temperature of the Earth (56-58 degrees on average below 10 feet) provides a heat source requiring no energy conversion, which adds to heating efficiency and ultimately, the cost to heat a building.

In order to heat a building, natural heat from the ground absorbs a colder refrigerant, which is circulated throughout the ground by a series of polyethelene tubing, which is generally positioned five to ten feet below the surface. This heat is transported via the refrigerant to a compressor inside a heat pump, where it is compressed and the lower temperatures are transformed from around 50 degrees to temperatures much higher, as high as 100 degrees of more. This hotter refrigerant is circulated through the tubing within an air handling unit, where colder return interior air absorbs the heat. The heated air is then carried to a building’s interior via fans. The refrigerant, with the heat removed, now becomes colder as is re-circulated into the ground to absorb the natural, renewable heat. In essence, the ground provides free heat.

Other methods of heating include forced air natural gas, oil, solar, propane, electric, radiant, and steam. Each heat source requires mechanical means to heat up the supply air. For example, natural gas – which is used to heat about half of all U.S. homes – is heated via a heat exchanger in a mechanical furnace, which runs on electricity. Radiant or steam heat is generated by mechanically raising the temperature of water or refrigerant via electricity. These methods differ from geothermal because the natural heat of the Earth provides the means for raising the temperature of the refrigerant used to transport heat to the air handling unit.

One drawback to using geothermal heat compared to other energy sources is the cost to bring this natural heating method into a building. The initial installation of a geothermal heating system is much higher than conventional natural gas heating – for example – because of the cost to install the tubing called a ground loop beneath the Earth’s surface. No other heat source, other than radiant heat, requires a series of tubing to deliver heat. But then again, radiant heat does not require a ductwork system to transport heated air or remove colder air. Geothermal requires a series of metals tubes to heat the refrigerant and the ductwork to move the heated air throughout the building.

On the flip side, its energy efficiency – using the Earth’s natural heat – is much greater than other heating sources resulting in lower utility costs, often fractions of the cost to use other heat sources. Energy savings could pay for the cost of installing the geothermal system over several years – another characteristic of geothermal heating.

 

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Will Switching to Geothermal Save Me Money? A Question from Monroeville

Monday, November 7th, 2011

There are simply a ton of different types of heating systems you can have in your Monroeville home and they are each more appropriate in different situations. However, some are certainly always going to be cheaper to operate than others, although that alone may not make one or the other right for you.

In the case of geothermal heating systems, the operating costs are definitely quite low. But those are not the only costs you will have to think about when you are considering what type of heating system to put in your home to keep your heating bills down.

Geothermal heating systems do not actually generate heat – they absorb it from the ground. Because of this, they actually use very little energy when they are running. All you are really paying to power is the fan that blows the heated air around your house. Also, because geothermal heating systems are more efficient at extracting heat in below freezing conditions than traditional heat pumps, they can continue to keep you warm on their own in more extreme conditions.

Traditional heat pumps, while they also cost very little to operate, do sometimes need to be supplemented by more conventional forms of indoor heating like a furnace when temperatures outdoors get too low. This is not the case with geothermal heat pumps, so if you live somewhere that has colder winters, a geothermal heat pump may be just what you are looking for. Of course, you can always opt for a furnace instead, but these will definitely cost more to run than either type of heat pump.

When you are trying to assess whether or not switching to a geothermal heating system will save you money, you first have to start with the heating bills you currently have. Then, factor in the cost of the geothermal heat pump installation as opposed to the installation of a more conventional system.

You are then in a position to see whether or not the amount the geothermal system will save you each month is enough to offset the higher cost of installation within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, the savings will always eventually add up over time, but if the length of time it will take you to break even is the same or longer than the expected life of the system, it is probably not worth it to invest in this type of heating.

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