Whether you are planning a building or already use one and desire to acquire geothermal heating and cooling technology, there is a path for you. Compared to conventional equipment (fossil, standard A/C or air-source heat pump) geothermal heating and cooling takes a bit more time and money. Some of this needs to be invested up front in the form of an underground heat exchanger (aka ground loop). Retrofits are also possible, and constitute a growing part of the GHP market.
Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) need a ground loop installed to interact with the shallow earth before they’re completed. That constitutes an extra expense, but what’s a source of perpetual heating and cooling worth? You’re going to become on-site renewable, and the ability to draw and concentrate heat for winter (or to concentrate and reject heat in summer) is a valuable and green resource you’ll count on, permanently. The loop is sized and deployed based on the kind and size of the GHP being installed, and that is based on the thermal load of the structure you’re building or are already in.
The issue of GHPs costing more up front is tempered by their ability to reduce HVAC expenses, provide greater comfort, and demonstrate the lowest life cycle cost of any other technology. Mortgage lenders are beginning to recognize this with higher loan allowances, because the extra cost will be returned in future savings. And no other heating and cooling technology can touch GHPs for being green and fighting climate change.
If you’re interested in the “greenest of the green,” GHPs offer the best route to Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings. These are the ones which generate enough electricity via solar photovoltaics and enough thermal energy generated or stored on-site by GHPs to offset all energy needs on an annual basis. True ZNE is carbonless, and uses the earth and sky to protect both, long term, with no net effect toward climate change. Solar and geothermal resource technologies (combined) are impossible to beat.