Geothermal Energy Installers in California
The transition to renewable energy is at an all-time high in California — renewables accounted for 34.8% of California's total energy generation in 2021. Of that, 17.1% came from solar, 7.8% from wind and 5.7% from geothermal.
Although geothermal has yet to take off like other renewable energy sources, California has paved the way for the United States to become a leader in geothermal energy generation. Believe it or not, the world's largest geothermal plant — Geysers Geothermal Complex — is located in Sacramento, California.
Today, more homeowners are interested in installing residential geothermal energy than ever. However, before you decide to power your home with geothermal energy in California, it's essential to read up on what geothermal energy is, the system costs and its risks and benefits.
How Does Geothermal Energy Work?
Geothermal energy derives from radioactive particles in broken-down rocks in the Earth's core. The core measures 10,800° F — nearly the same temperature as the sun.
Heat pumps — energy reservoirs installed in shallow grounds at a constant 50° to 60° Fahrenheit — allow heat transfer from within the Earth to and from a building or home. The pumps draw water or refrigerants through a pipe loop underground. During winter months, the water absorbs warmth to heat your home, while the opposite occurs for cooling your home in the summer.
Geothermal is considered a renewable source of energy due to the Earth continuously producing heat. As a result, geothermal power is sufficient for heating and cooling building structures, bathing and other electrical uses.
Can I Install Geothermal Energy in California?
Although still up and coming compared to solar energy, residents can install geothermal energy in California. In fact, geothermal sources are perhaps the most accessible in western states.
It's best to contact local geothermal installers for them to assess your current energy consumption and geothermal needs. Your property soil composition may determine system requirements and whether geothermal is suitable for your home.
Many California residents opt for geothermal energy due to significant utility savings. Compared to conventional heating and cooling units, geothermal heat pumps are quieter than air-source mechanisms and last longer, requiring less maintenance.
What Are the Costs of Geothermal Energy?
Before contacting geothermal energy installers in California, it's best to evaluate the costs. Many homeowners are turned off by the initial expense of installation, which could run between $12,000 and $38,000 for an entire system. A heat pump alone costs anywhere from $2,200 and $4,416.
Though the initial costs are steep, internal systems components have a life span of 25 years and the ground loop lasts over 50 years, making it a long-lasting, durable investment. Homeowners may be eligible for state and federal incentives to help offset the outlay. Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, they’re eligible for a 26% tax credit before January 1, 2023. After that, they can get a 22% tax credit until December 21, 2023, when they install an ENERGY STAR-certified geothermal heat pump.
Benefits and Risks of Geothermal Energy
There are many benefits and risks associated with geothermal energy. Here's what you can expect when you invest in geothermal systems.
Advantages of Residential Geothermal Power
The most obvious benefit of an alternative renewable energy source is its savings. Homeowners who install geothermal heat pumps use 25% to 50% less electricity than typical systems for indoor temperature comfort.
Additionally, geothermal power reduces emissions by 44% compared to air-source heat pumps and 72% compared to standard air conditioning units. Geothermal systems also help control 50% indoor humidity — meaning homes in humid climates will benefit from this energy source.
Ground-source heat pumps are much safer for the environment than conventional fuel-based residential heating and cooling systems. Unlike other units, geothermal heat pumps don't require fossil fuels. However, they do need electricity — so unless you have an alternative power source, you'll likely need to connect your heat pump to the electric grid, which combines renewable energy with fossil fuels.
Regardless, geothermal energy heat pumps can have over 400% efficiency, meaning you'll use far less fossil-fuel electricity. In comparison, non-renewable heat mechanisms have 70% to 90% efficiencies.
Geothermal systems also work well in nearly every climate. For example, solar panels are ideal in areas with 300 days or more of sunshine — but because heat pumps tap into ground energy, the surface climate has little impact on the units. It's worth noting that areas with extreme weather — such as rainier areas with saturated soil — may dictate the type of heat pump you must invest in.
Disadvantages of Residential Geothermal Power
As you evaluate your options for installing geothermal power in California, you'll need to consider the hefty upfront costs. Check to see if you're eligible for tax credits and other state incentives to help with the expenses. It may not be as pricey as it seems at first glance.
Because geothermal energy comes from the Earth, installing a horizontal ground loop system means deep trenching and above-ground transformations to the landscape. If you're not sure you want a wide area of your property to undergo such a large-scale change, vertical ground loops may be an option. However, installers will still need to bring equipment onto your property that may damage your lawn and garden.
Also, you might contaminate groundwater depending on whether you install an open-loop or closed-loop system. Discharged water cycles through the heat pump can pollute whatever water source you're drawing from.
The Best Geothermal Energy Installers in California
California residents can search for the best geothermal energy installers through the California Geothermal Heat Pump Association's member directory.
For instance, Cold Craft Heating & Air Conditioning has served the San Fransisco Bay Area since 1991. It maintains North American Technician Excellence certification — national recognition for outstanding HVAC experience and knowledge.
Bower Mechanical is another long-established California-based HVAC company that serves several communities throughout Sutter, Yolo, El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Operating since 1979, Bower specializes in assessing and retrofitting existing structures with geothermal heat pumps.
In a state eager to continue its shift toward renewable energy, homeowners will likely find experienced geothermal energy installers wherever they live in California.
Optimize Your Home's Efficiency With Geothermal Energy
Californians interested in installing geothermal energy heat pumps at home should reach out to experienced professionals in the state. Expert installers can assess your household's energy demand and property to ensure geothermal energy is right for you.