Resources / HVAC Talk / Choosing Between Geothermal and Cold Climate Heat Pumps

Choosing Between Geothermal and Cold Climate Heat Pumps

So, you’ve done your research. You know that heat pumps have the ability to combat climate change and you’re more than ready to break up with fossil fuel and experience the year-over-year cost savings of doing so. You’re aware of the incentives and rebates that NYSERDA offers to home and business owners who invest in heat pumps and you’re ready to let Capital Heat handle all the paperwork and pass the savings on to you.

There’s only one decision left to make, and it’s a big (but exciting) one—whether to install a geothermal or cold climate heat pump.

The good news is, they’re both excellent choices. They’ll both allow you to reap the same planet- and cost-saving benefits. They both have longer lifespans than your average furnace or air conditioner (they’re quieter and more efficient at distributing heat or cold air throughout your space, too), and they’ll both reduce your carbon footprint while cutting down on harmful pollutants. We’ll get in to how to choose the best system for you, but first, some fundamental differences.

Geothermal heat pumps:

  • Installed below ground where the soil temperature in New York state remains at about 50 degrees—even when it’s the dead of winter and we’re braving sub-freezing conditions here on Earth’s surface.
  • Pull this constant supply of heat energy from the ground and circulate it through your home or business to keep it warm in the winter or pull it out of your space and dispel it into the ground to keep it cool in the summer.

Cold climate (or air source) heat pumps:

  • Installed above ground and pulls heat to or from the air, using a refrigeration process to heat or cool your home depending on the season.
  • They’re able to capture heat from even the coldest of Western NY winters or remove it during the hottest of the dog days of summer.

Neither of these processes create heat, they merely transport it to or from the ground or air.

While both are great options, the choice between the two depends on your budget and home environment:

  • Up-front costs: The cost of installing a geothermal heat pump is slightly more up front, and though the year-over-year savings make it a wise investment, a cold climate heat pump might be a more practical solution if budget is a concern.
  • Lifespan: Though both systems have a longer lifespan on average than most furnace or air conditioners, geothermal heat pumps are known for their longevity because they’re installed underground and therefore protected from the elements. You can get the most life out of both systems by scheduling regular maintenance appointments.
  • Your outdoor space: Because geothermal heat pumps are designed to capture or dispel heat underground, the installation process is more invasive than cold climate heat pumps. If disturbing your yard or landscaping is a concern, you might want to go with the latter. Additionally, geothermal heat pumps require more space, making cold climate heat pumps a better choice for smaller yards.
  • Efficiency in lower temperatures: Because the temperature underground is constant, geothermal heat pumps tend to be more efficient when temperatures above ground drop below freezing. Something to consider if you’re used to long, cold winters (but you, a Western New Yorker, wouldn’t know anything about those).

To learn more about the differences between geothermal or cold climate heat pumps and to get a free assessment about what system is best for you, contact your heating and cooling experts at Capital Heat. We’re the only HVAC company in the area to offer both options and, because we don’t work on commission, we’re committed to helping you find the best system and getting the most out of it for years to come.

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