With Earth Day just behind us in late April, we’ve been thinking about so-called “green” home heating systems and HVAC equipment options lately here at Garden Spot Mechanical. Many of these technologies—like geothermal heat pumps and active solar heating systems—have been around for some time now, yet they are not particularly common in local homes at this point. Why is that?
Although we just experienced a relatively mild winter here in our Lancaster County, PA service area, you may now be thinking about upgrading your system to better suit your home comfort needs. What if your next HVAC system could increase the energy efficiency of your home and maybe save you a little “green,” too?
Today we’re taking a closer look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of these still very alternative heating and cooling systems. We’ll also talk a bit about how the most eco-friendly option may be replacing your outdated and malfunctioning system with a newer version of the same type, even if it’s not technically a green energy system.
Which Home HVAC Systems are Considered Green?
In short, this question can be tricky to answer and will vary depending on who you talk to. Conventional residential HVAC equipment like the air-source heat pumps and mini-split AC systems common in local homes aren’t typically considered green, though the newest models can be incredibly energy efficient.
With proper installation and a professional “right-sizing” a system for your home, conventional equipment may be more eco-friendly over time than alternative green options.
However, when most people talk about green home heating systems and HVAC equipment, they’re referring to the alternative options. Among those, three stand out as possibilities for Lancaster County-area homeowners, and you may already have one or more installed in your home today.
We previously covered these alternative system types in our earlier blog post about understanding which of the different HVAC systems and equipment you may have in your home. For more information, we encourage you to go back and read that article, as well.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
On paper, geothermal/ground source heat pumps are arguably among the greenest home heating and cooling system options available today. They can achieve significant energy savings compared to conventional air-source heat pumps and feature low maintenance system equipment that can last for decades.
So, why don’t more homeowners make the switch to geothermal?
Unfortunately, even with advances in system technology, geothermal heating and cooling typically involves a steep upfront investment. It’s also challenging to retrofit in most existing homes because excavation must be done to install the underground “loops” or piping that the system requires to operate.
All that said, if you are building a new custom home or commercial building, geothermal heating and cooling could be a great choice. Here at Garden Spot Mechanical, our technicians have the training and knowledge to install these green systems in new construction projects. And, we would be happy to help walk you through the decision-making on your new HVAC system needs.
Solar Heating/Cooling Equipment
When it comes to green heating and cooling systems, many people are familiar with the idea of active solar, but they don’t quite understand how the technology works in the day-to-day. Unfortunately, solar often doesn’t work well enough to justify the high initial cost of the equipment, including installing solar panels on your home’s roof. With active solar, you may achieve some space or water heating capabilities, but these systems do not produce enough energy to be your home’s only heating system.
Wood Burning Appliances
Wood burning appliances like traditional woodstoves and wood pellet furnaces also make the green list for some, but they have many drawbacks—including the fact that wood burners are mostly meant to be space heaters, not whole-house heating systems.
Both manufactured compressed wood pellets and wood that you harvest and split yourself to fuel a woodstove are considered biomass alternative energy sources for home heating. These options are renewable, but the disadvantage to eco-friendliness here is that wood is not entirely clean-burning or efficient as a heat source.
Considering a New Home Heating System or Need HVAC Repairs?
As we mentioned, sometimes the greenest home heating and cooling system option is the conventional one that’s professionally installed, correctly sized for your unique home, and regularly maintained.
In Northern Lancaster County and beyond, Garden Spot Mechanical is your best HVAC resource for the installation of the most energy-efficient equipment available.
Get in touch with us now to schedule an appointment and discuss the heating and cooling options that will fit your home and deliver better energy efficiency than what you have today.