Geothermal Energy Installers in San Diego, California
As a pioneer in the fight against climate change, it’s little surprise California leads the world in geothermal energy. Geothermal might still be in its infancy — trailing behind other renewable sources like solar and wind — but it is an opportunity for more homes and businesses to adopt a clean energy approach.
Between California’s robust efforts to meet its climate goals and the state being a geothermal hotspot, people can tap into geothermal sources well before the rest of the world can. While this alternative has yet to take off in some regions, geothermal energy installers in San Diego can assess your property and let you know if installing a below-ground heat pump is viable.
What Is the Imperial Valley Geothermal Area?
Most people associate California with earthquakes — however, the state comprises vast volcanic regions suitable for geothermal energy. Molten rock — or magma — is the catalyst for volcanic activity, but it also generates heat for electricity generation. Installing a geothermal heat pump for your home requires permeability and consistent ground heat and water flow.
The Imperial Valley Geothermal Area comprises 11 active power facilities near the Salton Sea — its heat supply primarily derives from the Salton Buttes, which last erupted 1,800 years ago.
The Salton Sea is a highly-contaminated, drought-susceptible, landlocked lake about 40 miles north of the California-Mexico border. However, despite its problems, the California Energy Commission believes it contains enough lithium to meet the future needs of the United States and 40% of the world’s demand — a positive outlook for electric vehicles.
Unfortunately, extracting lithium is a dirty job and risks further contamination. As a result, scientists and engineers are utilizing geothermal resources to extract lithium from the Salton Sea more sustainably. The surrounding geothermal plants pump 50,000 gallons of brine per minute, of which steam is used for energy and the lithium gets collected.
How Common Is Geothermal Energy in San Diego?
Legislators and renewable specialists quickly shot down a 2014 bill to expand geothermal energy in San Diego, claiming it was too costly and inflexible. In 2018, California legislators received bill AB 893, demanding state-owned and public utilities, energy providers, and community-choice aggregators buy 5,000 megawatts of geothermal power to diversify the state’s renewable energy portfolio.
An amendment to the bill included 2,500 megawatts of geothermal and 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar energy instead. However, it is still undetermined whether the bill will pass.
In the meantime, San Diego receives only 1% of the geothermal resources from the Imperial Valley. However, engineers are upgrading transmission lines — for instance, the Sunrise Powerlink — to ensure San Diego residents can utilize geothermal energy at home and work.
Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy
Geothermal remains one of the most untapped renewable energy sources in the world. However, the advantages are hard to overlook. For example, geothermal power has the following benefits:
- Environmental friendliness
- Renewable — heat reservoirs naturally replenish themselves
- Deliver a reliable, consistent energy supply
- Doesn’t require fossil fuels
- Savings on utility bills
- Technologies are constantly advancing
Naturally, geothermal energy has some cons, including the high costs of tapping into the supply and accessibility issues — not every location is conducive to geothermal power.
In California, digging into the ground to install a geothermal heat pump risks triggering earthquakes. There are nearly 500 earthquakes in the state each year, doubling in activity since 1984 compared to the 50 years prior. Fortunately, San Diego experiences limited seismic activity.
How Much Does it Cost to Install Geothermal Energy?
Many people are turned off by the initial costs of installing geothermal heat pumps — most installers charge between $12,000 and $38,000 for the system.
However, it’s possible to reduce the costs through tax credits, rebates and other state incentives, which a reputable geothermal installer can help guide you. For instance, under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, homeowners may be eligible for a 22% tax credit until December 2023 if they opt for geothermal power.
Other cost savings come from reduced energy consumption — geothermal heat pumps use 25% to 50% less electricity than above-ground heating systems. As a result, heating and cooling bills are usually 70% less during the winter and 50% less in the summer.
Additionally, geothermal heat pumps typically have a five to 10-year payback period, with a life span of about 25 years.
Geothermal Energy Installers in San Diego
While some parts of Southern California have embraced geothermal energy, San Diego is still up and coming. Therefore, limited geothermal energy companies serve the San Diego area.
Before hiring geothermal energy installers in San Diego, be sure to vet them for experience and training. Geothermal power is a new renewable technology, so professionals must have adequate knowledge about geothermal heat pump systems. Ask an installer if they hold certifications, such as from the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association.
Hi-Tech Air Heating and Cooling sells Carrier closed-loop heat pump products with 5-year and 10-year warranties for labor and parts. They also provide maintenance services on their products.
San Diego-based Same Day Heating & Air Conditioning is another company that does geothermal installations. Same Day is run by Jonathan Wintersteller, who has over 30 years of industry experience. The company has even landed on the Inc. 5000 List five times, demonstrating quality work and services.
Otherwise, West Coast Heating, Air Conditioning, and Solar may be the right company to fulfill your geothermal needs. West Coast highlights the many benefits of employing renewable energy, beginning with cleaner air and environmental friendliness due to using zero fossil fuels. Homeowners can call to make an appointment for a consultation.
As San Diego continues to explore geothermal energy opportunities, more heating and cooling companies will likely offer geothermal installation services.
Geothermal Power Equals Energy Efficiency for San Diegoans
We’ve only just begun to tap into geothermal energy’s potential as a viable renewable alternative. As California continues to pave the way for a transition to clean power generation, San Diego residents can take advantage of geothermal’s reduced energy use and utility costs.