Posts Tagged ‘green energy’
Fine Homebuilding’s recent issue features an editorial titled “Heat Pump, Schmeat Pump” which gives you a sense of their opinion of one of our favorite green energy sources.
Beyond the title, the author, Henry Gifford, goes on to explain why he believes ground source heat pumps (GSHP) are dirty and inefficient. He claims that high efficiency oil and gas furnaces are the cleaner option from an environmental perspective.
Unfortunately for him and sadly for his readership, I don’t think he really understands the way ground source heat pumps work. He seems to imply that they involve pumping ground water through the system. While there are open loop group water systems that can be placed in ponds and the like, they are not very efficient and they are not the most commonly installed. The closed loop ground source heat pumps that we install in our homes are the most efficient and do not involve water at all. He also seemingly ignores the fact that ground source heat pumps not only produce residential heat but also cool air and hot water. Any comparison of a GSHP must necessarily include not only the alternative heating system, such as a high efficiency gas furnace but also the air conditioning and hot water systems, both of which generally rely on electricity and lots of it. All this leads me to question his data on geothermal efficiency which is integral to the rest of his argument.
On top of that, he also assumes that the GSHP is powered by dirty electricity from inefficient coal fired power plants and the like. The problem with this argument is that electricity doesn’t have to be produced by burning fossil fuel. If you have solar panels or even choose a clean energy supplier like Community Energy or Sterling Planet , your geo system becomes a lot “greener”. Even if you must rely on the traditional admittedly inefficeint and dirty grid, you may not have to forever. As times change, the grid’s efficiency will likely be greatly improved as well as having a greater share of renewables in the mix. When you think long-term, this bodes well for the green factor of geothermal heating and cooling systems.
Ground source heat pumps remain our favorite economical and “green” energy source for our custom homes. With current rebates and pricing, installation and operating costs easily beat the alternatives our customers have. In rural eastern Connecticut where natural gas is not piped, a high efficiency gas furnace makes less sense and even the best oil burning furnaces can’t compete with a Geo-system on price or carbon emissions.
If you are concerned about greenhouse emissions from the electrical grid – fight for smart grid improvements and cleaner energy production – don’t bash an unrelated technology.
I am disappointed with Fine Home Building for running this editorial, particularly because so many people will read it and believe it.