The 30 percent residential renewable-energy federal tax credit has helped drive sales of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) to an all-time high, with homeowners racing to install these energy-efficient systems before the program is scheduled to end in 2016. With just three years left to encourage homeowners to invest in geothermal advances, manufacturers are pulling out all the stops by introducing new features on their GHPs, such as variable-speed technology and sophisticated controls, which they say will provide homeowners with better comfort, as well as lower energy consumption and operating costs.
GHPs are expensive to install, so homeowners want to make sure their investment results in greater comfort and lower energy bills than what they would experience with a traditional HVAC system. For these reasons, WaterFurnace Intl. Inc. incorporated variable-capacity technology into its new 7 Series geothermal products, said Tim Litton, director of marketing. “This technology is unique, because rather than running at the one or two speeds of normal compressors, it adjusts its speed to precisely match the heating or cooling load of a building. Imagine if your car had only two settings: 30 mph and 70 mph. It would be very strenuous to drive, and it probably wouldn’t get very good gas mileage. As we all know, gentle acceleration and maintaining constant speeds increases efficiency.”