The Geothermal Advantage


The individuals employed in Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative’s Energy Services Department have established themselves as experts. Their expertise extends to any number of disciplines that focus on the provision of electric service to our members. Whether it’s standby generators, residential or commercial solar-generating systems, battery storage facilities, EV charging stations, or smart thermostats, these folks know their stuff.

Now that we’re experiencing the hottest part of the year, I suspect their knowledge of geothermal or ground source heat pumps might be of particular interest to some of our members. A geothermal heat pump operates more efficiently than ordinary heating and air conditioning systems. Remarkably, these ground-source heat pumps can deliver five units of energy for every single unit of electrical energy used. That kind of performance can reduce a homeowner’s heating and cooling costs by as much as 70 percent!

Unlocking free energy

A geothermal appliance can keep a home comfortable in any climate. It does so by unlocking the free, renewable solar energy that’s stored in the ground. Just a few feet below the earth’s surface, the ground remains at a relatively constant temperature. That constant temperature is used as the heat pump’s exchange medium, instead of the outside air temperature.

The geothermal heat pump takes advantage of these more favorable soil temperatures to become highly efficient by exchanging heat with the earth. Compared to air-source heat pumps, geothermal units are quieter, last longer, need little maintenance and don’t depend on the outside air temperature. In addition, the life of a geothermal system is estimated to be 24 years for the inside components, while the ground loop should last for 50 years or longer.

A full return on investment

A ground-source heat pump is more expensive to install than a conventional air-to-air unit. However, the energy savings generated by the geothermal system should produce a full return on the investment within the first five to 10 years of its operation. It’s also true that government tax credits, certain available rebates and an attractive Blue Ridge financing program can all contribute to making the expenditure fit the member’s budget. In my view, geothermal represents the “greenest” technology on the market today. I encourage any interested members to contact the co-op’s Energy Services Department for complete details.