Homeowners in the U.S. average $1,900 a year on utility bills, with over 20 percent going to heating and cooling costs. So, it only makes sense to have the most energy efficient HVAC system for your home — a geothermal heat pump.
What are Geothermal Heat Pumps?
Both the Deptartment of Energy and the EPA endorse geothermal heat pumps. Also known as ground source heat pumps, they’re among the most energy efficient and eco-friendly ways to heat and cool your home.
Geothermal systems are 50-70 percent more efficient for heating than traditional furnaces. They’re also 20-40 percent more efficient for cooling than standard air conditioners.
Unlike systems that burn fossil fuels – such as gas, fuel oil, coal, or wood – geothermal heat pumps don’t produce carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions.
About one million geothermal heating/cooling systems have been installed in the U.S. since 1980.
How Does a Geothermal Heat Pump Work?
While a standard heat pump uses the temperature of outside air for heating and cooling, a geothermal heat pump draws on the more constant temperatures found underground.
A series of underground pipes absorb heat from the ground in the winter to warm your home.
In the summer, the process is reversed, with heat removed from your home and transferred back into the ground.
The network of buried polyethylene pipes used to exchange heat operate as either a closed or open loop.
In a closed loop system, the heat pump circulates a mixture of antifreeze and water through the pipes and back again.
An open loop, on the other hand, draws water from a well or pond, then returns it to the ground after use.
Pipes for a closed loop geothermal system can either be buried horizontally 4- 7 feet deep or vertically 150-400 feet underground.
Once the heat has been extracted from the fluid, it’s transferred to an air handler and ductwork to your home similar to other forced air HVAC systems.
A geothermal heat pump can also efficiently heat your home’s water. Waste heat from the compressor can be used to produce hot water at very little expense.
Is a Geothermal Heat Pump Worth It?
Geothermal heat pumps last 25 years on average while underground pipe loops can operate for over 50 years.
Over the life of the system, geothermal heat pumps cost 25 percent to 50 percent less than a traditional system. Homeowners can recoup the added installation expense in as little as five to seven years.
I first wrote about The Smart Grid and how it will affect our home appliances for Designer Magazine back in 2010, when we were only really just starting to realise the potential of smart appliances that could be connected to the Internet. It seemed so very futuristic back then and it was hard to imagine how our homes would change by integrating these new technologies. Fast forward 11 years and smart appliances are now commonplace in many homes around the world.
If I’m completely honest, when I first learnt about smart appliances and the internet of things, I saw them as something that would be reserved for the most wealthy of households. Not only was the technology a bit on the pricey side but it also seemed a little unnecessary for those of us who weren’t living in palatial mansions.
I couldn’t really ever see myself adopting much smart technology for the home. Living in a rather small home, it seemed somewhat lazy to install appliances and technology that could be operated from my phone. I was also slightly worried that the technology wouldn’t be easy to operate for a technophobe like myself and would end up making life more complicated.
However, as time has passed and new technologies have emerged, I have been able to dabble with smart home technology to see how it can improve my life and make my home easier to operate. You may remember when I reviewed the Sengled Pulse LED Bulb + Wireless Speakers? And more recently I turned my coworking space in Totnes into a smart office thanks to some nifty little gadgets from Hive.
I was actually really quite surprised just how easy they were to operate and how convenient they made everything. I definitely feel like I am more in control of my office now than before I installed the smart devices. I am much more open to exploring what else I can connect up to the internet and more importantly, operate remotely from my phone.
Smart Electric Radiator
Heating is the next thing on my list. We have electric heaters in the office and last winter I was constantly worried that I may forget to turn them off when leaving and they would be on all night posing a massive fire hazard but also pushing up my landlord’s electricity bills. I’ve also been thinking how helpful it would be if I could turn the heating on before my arrival so I could be greeted by a nice warm office in the morning.
My current electric radiators do have a very basic timer but I really need more flexibility than they offer. So I was intrigued to hear about some of the latest smart electric radiators on the market today and the benefits that they provide.
Electric Radiators Direct is a UK supplier of energy-efficient electric radiators and towel rails. They champion electric heating because it is carbon-free, can be used with sustainable energy and is perfectly adapted to take advantage of SMART electronic technology.
They offer an extensive product range which includes radiators of all sizes for every room in the house and that are suitable for every budget too.
Ecostrad iQ Ceramic
The smart electric radiator I have been looking at for my office is the Ecostrad iQ Ceramic. These particular radiators are built for maximum efficiency with their heat-retentive stone plates that use CeramiQ heat lock technology. The specially engineered ceramic plates heat up quickly and stay warm, even after the heater has stopped drawing power from the wall. In this way, heat is locked deep in the core and slowly released out into the room over time so you get more heat using less energy.
The iQ Ceramic holds warmth so well that it also emits more radiant heat (heating people, objects and surfaces directly) compared to standard models that emit heat via convection (heating the surrounding air). This offers a heating solution that’s more effective, even in hard-to-heat spaces like hallways and rooms with high ceilings.
Intelligent Heating Control
What really stands out for me is that the iQ Ceramic is a smart electric radiator that gives you three different ways to control your heating.
It can be controlled manually using the large, recessed touchscreen control panel. This is perfect for when you are at home and available to make changes to the way that it operates.
Wi-Fi Enabled App
However, you can also control the smart electric radiator through the Wi-Fi. The iQ Ceramic is compatible with two heating apps, Tuya and Smart Life, which allow you to program the heater using an intuitive, user-friendly interface. No additional accessories are needed to access WiFi control, all you need to do is connect the iQ Ceramic to your home router then pair it to the app. And for even more effortless heat management, it can also be operated via smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.
It can also be operated in sensor mode so that it only heats when it detects movement in the room. When it senses a presence, it heats at the set comfort temperature, then after a period of no movement, it will switch back to a lower heat setting. The interval of time it waits before lowering its heat level can be set to 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes depending on your preference.
I’ve always been under the impression that electric heaters are more expensive to run than gas-fired central heating. It was certainly the case when I had old-fashioned storage heaters in the first flat I shared with my now-husband. They were super inefficient and cost us a small fortune. However, as we’ve discussed, technology has come a long way and this is now far from the truth.
In this case, it is the CeramiQ heat lock technology inside this electric radiator that makes it so energy efficient. All of the heat it generates is absorbed deep into the heat-retentive ceramic plates, allowing the radiator to stay warm over long periods so it uses less energy.
The iQ Ceramic smart electric radiator has 24/7 programming. This means that you can set up a weekly routine to match your family’s schedule so that you don’t end up wasting energy by heating a space unnecessarily.
It also has open window detection so it can detect any sudden drops in temperate, from an open door or window, for example and switches the heater off until a more stable temperature is detected. Again, this prevents energy wastage.
Comfort, Eco & Anti-frost modes are great for heating rooms that are sporadically used, like communal spaces or even holiday lets where people come and go frequently. These settings minimises energy usage with zero effort.
Precision Digital Thermostat
The iQ Ceramic smart electric radiator is fitted with a silent TRIAC thermostat that’s accurate to ±0.5 °C so it provides precise and effective warmth whenever you need it. And you won’t be able to hear a click when it comes on and goes off.
The Ecostrad iQ Ceramic smart electric radiator has been designed for easy wall-mounted installation and comes with a UK plug and all of the fixtures required for a secure fitting. Its minimalist slimline body is just 80mm deep and the control panel is nicely recessed and unobtrusive.
So if you are renovating a property or looking to change your heating system, the options that you have today are manifold. And smart electric radiators may be just the thing that you are looking for to help you save both energy and money as well as giving you that all-important peace of mind that a smart home can offer.