Storm Proofing; Come Inside and Out of the Weather
With geothermal heating and cooling systems, you can weather the storm and rest easy. The equipment is all inside, reducing premature wear and tear. There is no equipment to encumber your landscaping or to interfere with children at play, and noise pollution is eliminated.
On March 13, 1993, Floridians were awakened by what sounded like a passenger jet engine outside their homes. It turned out to be 70+MPH winds from the fury of Florida’s no-name “Storm of the Century.”
Property damage was significant, and many were left without air conditioning when their outdoor condensers were destroyed by wind and water. Clients with geothermal heat pumps fared better, sustaining no damage due to the "all-indoor" nature of a geothermal heating and cooling system.
As recently as January 2013, we have seen the resilience of geothermal heating and cooling systems. Hurricane Sandy struck the northeastern United States, and the New York Times reported, “Geothermal Designs Arise as a Stormproof Resource”.
The presence of outside equipment whether on the roof or outside the building presents a two-way risk. Outside equipment is destined to be degraded by inclement weather, damaged during the process of landscaping and maintenance, or even stolen for salvage or vandalized. Every home and building owner has or will experience this at one time or another.
Another liability is the risk of personal injury that is present in equipment that has spinning blades, high-voltage current in flexible (and often deteriorated) conduit, and is often freely accessible to passersby.
The costs associated with housing outside equipment in risk prone areas can be high. “Risks” can be related to inclement weather, personnel protection, or outright vandalism. In Florida for government buildings, hurricane hardened shelters are required to house outside equipment. These enclosure structures may be as large as a gymnasium, and cost millions.
Some studies have been done on the effects of outside noise on environment and personnel. It's favorable to note that these considerations go away with geothermal cooling and heating systems. A 2010 City of Los Angeles study indicates that residential outside equipment for air conditioning drowns out the sounds of bird calls and the rustling of wind through the leaves of the trees. Commercial cooling equipment is louder, and cooling towers are louder yet.
Many if not most commercial buildings use cooling towers because of their ability to improve efficiency for the air-conditioning equipment in the building. But a cooling tower consumes an average of 51 gallons of fresh water per day per ton of cooling. A ton of cooling will do about one office measuring about 15 feet square. A 250,000 square-foot building will consume over 15,000,000 gallons of fresh water per year to operate the cooling tower. In addition, the cooling tower must be chemically maintained each month. With geothermal, there is no consumption of water, and reduced maintenance costs.
Refrigerant volume is also reduced through the use of geothermal HVAC systems, in homes as well as businesses. Many air conditioners have refrigerant lines run to the outside compressor section, requiring increased refrigerant charges to fill the interconnecting piping. With geothermal, the piping is a "closed-loop" containing a water solution.
With geothermal heating and cooling systems, you can weather the storm and rest easy. The equipment is all inside, reducing premature wear and tear. There is no equipment in the way of landscaping and children at play, and noise pollution is eliminated.
With a 30% federal tax credit and the highest energy efficiency available, geothermal heat pumps are affordable and reduce electrical consumption.
Geothermal is a mainstream technology; why not treat yourself to the benefits of a geothermal heat pump in your home?
Jay Egg is a geothermal consultant, writer, and the owner of EggGeothermal. He has co-authored two textbooks on geothermal HVAC systems published by McGraw-Hill Professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .