Geothermal heating systems are growing in popularity because of their efficiencies and cost savings potential and they are Green. While not a new technology, improvements in components and the desire for alternative fossil fuels have spurred an increase in demand in residential and commercial applications.
Unlike conventional heating systems, Geothermal Heating Systems (GHS) takes advantage of the heat transfer properties of water. GHS systems have three basic elements: the ground heat exchanger, the heat pump unit and the air delivery system (ductwork), hydronic piping or radiant heat.
Ground heat exchangers consist of a grid of buried polyethylene plastic pipe (closed loop wells) through which a liquid heat exchanger medium (water and antifreeze combination) circulates. The process is similar to the cooling coils of a refrigerator.
Closed loop wells – Proper Installation is Critical
Proper installation guarantees your system’s efficiencies for heating and cooling will be met and your return on investment from savings on convention fuel costs will be realized. Essentially loop field construction is the foundation for your heating and cooling system.
Generally speaking on a residential system, you will be dealing with a HVAC company for the total installation of your new heating/cooling system. However, the HVAC company will subcontract out the closed loop well installation. On commercial systems, bids for the closed loop wells may be posted.
Proper close loop well construction is one if not the most critical aspect of the job. Unfortunately Illinois does not have a law that provides regulatory oversight of GHS systems or the qualifications of closed loop installers. The Illinois Water Well Construction Code does provide regulations on construction but without a designated oversight agency, the consumer most be informed and hire a highly respected closed loop contractor.
Before construction starts the owner, the HVAC contractor and the drilling contractor should meet and plan the system design together.
- What are the current and future heating /cooling load demand?
- Is there or will there be a water well or septic system on the property?
- What credentials does the HVAC or loop installer have? IGSPHA and NGWA are both well established and internationally recognized and have certification programs for geothermal heating systems.
- Are they familiar with the laws and codes in Illinois governing geothermal heating systems?
- Ask for references