Air & Ground Source Heat Pumps
A heat pump is a home comfort unit that will heat your home in the winter and cool it efficiently in the summer. There are several types of heat pumps available, including air source and ground source. Cuivre River Electric Cooperative endorses the use of Heat Pumps as a safe, clean choice in electric heating systems.
Learn More About Heat Pumps
Geo-Heat Center http://geoheat.oit.edu
Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium, Inc. www.ghpc.org
International Ground Source Heat Pump Association www.igshpa.okstate.edu
Heat Pump Testimonial
GSHPs Offer Long-term Savings for Nipper Family
Meet Ben and Juanita Nipper of Moscow Mills. They know how to stretch a dollar. In fact, they can make it cover a full day's heating and cooling cost. Since they first installed a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) nearly 14 years ago, they've never paid more than an average of $1 a day to heat and cool their home.
Energy efficiency was a priority in the mid-1980s when they built their home with electric heat. Today there's a renewed focus on efficiency, so a visit to the Nipper home is an opportunity to review energy-wise building features. GSHPs help energy-conscious practices make an even greater impact on home energy bills.
The Nippers built their 1,300 sq. ft. ranch-style home in 1984 with a finished walkout basement. "We did a lot of work on the house ourselves," Ben says. "Juanita went around all the windows in the house and pushed in insulation — she took care of every place she thought air could come in."
"Around lights and plug-ins, too," Juanita adds.
They installed R-30 attic insulation, R-19 wall insulation and double-paned wood windows. "We didn’t go cheap on windows and doors," says Ben. Their first heating and cooling system included an electric furnace, central air conditioning system and a fireplace insert. Their energy bills averaged about $150 a month; 50% of the bill was for heating and cooling.
In August 1992 the Nippers installed a 3-Ton GSHP. They reduced their already low energy bills to $100 a month, including just $30 for heating and cooling. With savings like this, the Nippers no longer needed to rely on the fireplace insert to supplement their comfort.
The GSHP also reduced their water heating costs.
How does a GSHP work? Instead of heating air directly (electric furnace), or removing heat from the air directly (air conditioner), a GSHP transfers heat from the air to the ground in summer, and from the ground to the air in winter. It uses a liquid that circulates in polyethylene pipe buried in the ground.
Using the ground instead of the air brings a much higher efficiency into the process. The temperature of the ground at 6 feet below the surface, a mild 55 degrees Fahrenheit (F), is the key element. The GSHP can achieve an indoor air temperature of 70 degrees F with much less effort. As a result, outdoor air temperature, which may range from sub-zero to over 100 degrees F, has much less of an impact. In addition, when the GSHP is operating it can transfer heat into a standard electric water heater.
Efficiency is important, but so is comfort. The Nippers set the GSHP thermostat on 70 degrees F in winter and 78 degrees F in summer. "We keep a comfortable house all the time," says Ben. With Missouri weather that can require both heating and cooling in the same day, this is no small feat. GSHP thermostats can be programmed to make the switch automatically and efficiently.
What about reliability? Other than routine maintenance, like changing furnace filters and checking fluid levels periodically, the Nippers have made only one call for service in nearly 14 years.
"When you figure the total electric bill here averages $100/month, I think that’s fantastic,"says Ben.
Member Services Representative Bob Hysong agrees. The right heating and cooling system, proper insulation, double-paned windows, and the attention to detail the Nippers gave their home to help reduce air infiltration are all important components of an energy efficient home. Building or remodeling with efficiency in mind can produce "fantastic" savings that last year after year.
Efficiency is a homeowner's best defense against rising energy costs. "We’re entering a period when homeowners will be taking a much closer look at home energy efficiency," says Hysong. "When energy prices are low, energy advice doesn't seem to have much value. But at CuivreRiver we've always promoted the long term value of wise energy use," he adds.
"We can help consumers learn how to make their homes more energy efficient, and show them where and how they can reduce energy use," he says.
Ground Source Heat Pumps