How will I save money with geothermal heating and cooling?
Geothermal heating and cooling saves money, both in operating costs and maintenance costs. Investments can be recouped in as little as three years. There is a positive cash flow, since the energy savings usually exceeds payment on the system.

How much space does a geothermal unit require?
Most of a geothermal heating and cooling installation is underground. Inside the house, the heat pump units are about the same size as a traditional heating and cooling unit.

How long will my geothermal system last?
Geothermal heating and cooling systems are durable and highly reliable. The system contains fewer mechanical components, and all components are either buried in the ground or located inside the home, which protects them from outside conditions. The underground pipe carries up to a 50-year warranty.

How effective is this underground system?
The buried pipe, or ground loop, is the most recent technical advancement in heat pump technology. Recently, new heat pump designs and improved buried pipe materials have been combined to make
geothermal heating and cooling systems the most efficient heating and cooling systems available.

Are geothermal systems guaranteed?
Nearly all geothermal system manufacturers offer a warranty for major components that is equivalent to the warranties for conventional heating and cooling systems. Manufacturers of plastic pipe used for ground loops warrant their products for 50 years.

How noisy is the unit?
Geothermal heating and cooling systems are very quiet, providing a pleasant environment inside & outside of the home. The systems have no noisy fan units to disturb outdoor activities, on or near the patio.

How safe are Geothermal heating and cooling systems?
Geothermal heating and cooling systems are safe and protected. With no exposed equipment outdoors, children or pets cannot injure themselves or damage exterior units. The systems have no open flame, flammable fuel or potentially dangerous fuel storage tanks.

What are the advantages to an HVAC dealer?
Geothermal heating and cooling systems create a huge retrofit market not subject to wild fluctuations in housing construction. There is also ample opportunity for stable growth benefiting the dealer and his employees. In addition, these systems are relatively maintenance-free, requiring only regular filter changes. This means fewer maintenance and support calls. There is no outside equipment, so wear and tear is less.

Can these systems be used for commercial, industrial, or apartment buildings?
Yes! Many GSHP systems are being installed using a multitude of systems hooked up to an array of buried vertical or horizontal loops. This simplifies zone control and internal load balancing.

Does my state offer any incentives for installing a geothermal heating cooling system?
Some utilities offer rebates or incentives to their customers who purchase GSHPs. To see what your state has to offer
click here.

Questions and answers courtesy of the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association at Oklamoma State University. For more frequently asked questions click here.


Solar Electricity

What is photo voltaics (solar electricity), or "PV"?
What do we mean by photovoltaics? The word itself helps to explain how photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric technologies work. First used in about 1890, the word has two parts: photo, a stem derived from the Greek phos, which means light, and volt, a measurement unit named for Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a pioneer in the study of electricity. So, photovoltaics could literally be translated as light-electricity. And that's just what photovoltaic materials and devices do; they convert light energy to electricity, as Edmond Becquerel and others discovered in the 18th Century.

What are the components of a photovoltaic system?
A PV system is made up of different components. These include PV modules (groups of PV cells), which are commonly called
PV panels; one or more batteries; a charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system; an inverter for a utility-grid-connected system and when alternating current (ac) rather than direct current (dc) is required; wiring; and mounting hardware or a framework.

What is the difference between PV amd other solar technologies?
There are four main types of solar energy technologies:
Photovoltaic (PV) systems, which convert sunlight directly to electricity by means of PV cells made of semiconductor materials.
Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, which concentrate the sun's energy using reflective devices such as troughs or mirror panels to produce heat that is then used to generate electricity.
Solar water heating systems, which contain a solar collector that faces the sun and either heats water directly or heats a "working fluid" that, in turn, is used to heat water.
Transpired solar collectors, or "solar walls," which use solar energy to preheat ventilation air for a building.

How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?
A PV system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it
installed and maintained properly.

Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation. Failed connections, insufficient wire size, components not rated for dc application, and so on, are the main culprits. The next most common cause of problems is the failure of the electronic parts in the balance of systems (BOS): the controller, inverter, and protection components. Batteries fail quickly if they're used outside their operating specification. For most applications (uses), batteries should be fully recharged shortly after use. In many PV systems, batteries are discharged AND recharged slowly, perhaps over a period of days or weeks. Some batteries quickly fail under these conditions. Be sure the batteries specified for your system are appropriate for the application.

How much electricity does a photovoltaic (PV) system generate?
A 10% efficient PV system in most areas of the United States will generate about 180 kilowatt-hours per square meter. A PV system rated at
1 kilowatt will produce about 1800 kilowatt-hours a year. Most PV panels are warranted to last 20 years or more (perhaps as many as 30 years) and to degrade (lose efficiency) at a rate of less than 1% per year. Under these conditions, a PV system could generate close to 36,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity over 20 years and close to 54,000 kilowatt-hours over 30 years. This means that a PV system generates more than $10,000 worth of electricity over 30 years.

Questions and answers about solar electricity courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information about geothermal, solar and other types of renewable energy, click here.

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