Frequent
Questions

 

If the answer to your question is not found in the FAQ below, don't hesitate to contact us!

As our Midwestern seasons take us through drastic temperature changes, the temperature of our earth (only 4 to 6 feet underground) stays pretty much the same year round. A geothermal heating & cooling system is designed to utilize these constant temperatures as a free and renewable energy source.

In the cold winter months, underground pipes (we call them loops) absorb stored heat from the earth and move it indoors using a heat pump. In the warm summer months, the system reverses. Heat is drawn from the building, transferred through the underground loops, and placed in the cooler earth.

People decide on this method of heating and cooling for three reasons. First, it is a more cost-effective utility bill investment than the conventional fossil fuel dependent systems. Second, its efficiency is unmatched by other heating and cooling systems. Finally, it is a green/environmentally friendly technology that facilitates and supports energy conservation.

The initial installation costs of a geothermal heating and cooling system are understandably more expensive than that of a traditional fossil fuel furnace or boiler. However, up to $6,000 ComEd consumer rebate for geothermal installations, there are also monthly savings to consider when geothermal is in use. Homeowner savings are drastic as monthly utility bills drop significantly. For every dollar of energy you spend to run your geothermal system, you will see a return of supplied heat energy valuing between $5.00 and $6.00. Finally, the average life expectancy of a geothermal system is considerably longer than that of a traditional unit. As you can see, geothermal heating and cooling will provide a sound long-term investment with substantial return. You can recoup your initial costs in as little as 5-10 years, depending on installation and operation costs of your specific home.

First, geothermal heating and cooling systems do not create heat; they merely transfer existing heat to and/or from your building. Second, your current system may be operating at only 78-98% efficiency. Geothermal heating and cooling methods operate with two to five times more efficiency (that’s 500% more efficient) than the unit you are currently utilizing. Finally, there are three basic components to a geothermal system versus a traditional HVAC design. Each geo system utilizes a geothermal unit, underground piping/loops, and the ductwork/radiant heat layout within the home. It only needs a small amount of electricity to run the system’s fan, compressor, and pump. No fossil fuels are needed to generate heat with geothermal technologies.

○ Geothermal heating and cooling systems do not emit any greenhouse gases because they don’t need to burn fossil fuels to produce heat. Instead, they use the clean, renewable energy of the earth to operate. The materials used within geo systems are also environmentally friendly. In the rare event that an earth loop were to leak, the antifreeze fluid within will not harm its surrounding environment. In addition, the performance-enhancing refrigerants and product lines of our manufactures do not harm our earth’s ozone layer.

In short, yes! One of our geothermal consultants can determine whether or not your current ductwork can be utilized for a new or additional system. If ductwork can be reused, many homeowners opt for a split system installation. A split system adds an earth loop design and geothermal layout being added to a forced air furnace and utilizes the existing blower. This creates a dual fuel environment. The geothermal system would be the primary source for heating and cooling, but the fossil fuel furnace would still serve as a backup source for supplemental heat in our colder winter months.

○ If there is not existing ductwork, or the existing ductwork isn’t salvageable, our geothermal consultants can offer sound recommendations and design alternatives to meet your specific needs. Options include: new ductwork, radiant heat, baseboard heat, and/or geothermal heat pumps for specific rooms/zones of your home.

One of our certified J & R Herra Geothermal designers will conduct a heat loss/heat gain calculation for your home. This data will allow for accuracy and precision when it comes to your unique building needs. This information will help us determine the unit size, loop system layout, and interior design for your space.

Our geothermal designers will also determine which type of geothermal system is right for you and your property. From open loop systems to closed loop systems, we will explain which geothermal technology is the most fitting investment for you.

Simply put, an open loop system uses the groundwater from a conventional well as its constant heat source. The system runs the groundwater through a pump and extracts the heat from it. The water then drains into a second well, pond, stream, river, lake, ditch, or drainage space that can adequately accommodate that amount of water. This expelled water is pollutant free; it is merely a few degrees warmer or colder than it was in its original state. Water quality is an important variable when considering an open looped design.

A closed loop system is a continuous layout of buried polyethylene piping where a heat-transferring solution is in constant recirculation. These loops can be excavated/trenched horizontally, vertically, or submerged in a pond that is at least ten feet deep year round. The loops can be used for heating and cooling alike. The flow simply reverses, depending on which system you are activating.

When ample open land is available, we prefer digging horizontal trenches per the specific shape and design guidelines of your property (i.e. septic fields, landscaping, outbuildings, etc.). This type of excavating tends to be more cost effective and time efficient. Each trench is excavated to a depth of four to six feet (where the ground temperature is constant). Each trench ranges in length from 75 to 150 feet long. Each trench can accommodate one ton of operational need and will therefore accommodate 600 feet of earth loop, polyethylene piping. In an average, well insulated 2,000 square foot home, you would typically see a three to four ton heating/cooling system installed. Therefore, this homeowner could anticipate 1,800-2,400 feet of pipe laid out within three to four ground trenches.

Vertical loop design is ideal for homeowners who have minimal or restricted open land space. Instead of laying loops horizontally, a 150 to 250 foot hole is bored for each ton of the system’s heating capacity requirements. Within each bored hole, you will find “U” shaped loops. If needed, these loops can be doubled up with additional boring and added depth. Loop depths vary depending on design layout, soil conditions, and climate.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems have a much greater longevity than their fossil fuel competitors. The earth loops have a 50-year warranty and in most cases will outlast the house/building they are equipping. The fan, compressors, and pumping units are housed safely inside your home and away from the tumultuous elements of Mother Nature. Periodic maintenance checks and filter replacements are strongly encouraged to prolong the efficiency, functionality, and lifespan of your geothermal system. To aid homeowners in this area, J & R Herra, Inc. offers various service agreement packages. These preventative maintenance programs give our customers peace of mind when it comes to the lasting investment of their geothermal heating and cooling designs.

It's been three great years since we installed our geothermal unit. Both J & R and our unit have exceeded our expectations.

There are a lot of variables to think of when choosing greener solutions. Brian and his team explained everything needed, and I couldn't be happier about my choice.

When I had the chance to save money and do my part in improving our climate, it was a no-brainer for me. Love to show of my unit and my bills to friends and family.