Heat Pump Industry Matures

There is an article on geothermal power in the recent edition of Discover Magazine. It adds little to the subject, but then what is new about thermodynamics. It does give us a few numbers that are worth having.

The heat pump industry has reached a million installations in the USA, and are currently building out at the rate of 50,000 pumps per year. This means that the industry is now established. The cost of an installation runs around $7500 per home and amortizes out in ten years. This is important, because a contractor can enter this business expecting low installation risk and a long career.

This also proves a high level of consumer confidence is established already.

Recall that the purpose of a heat pump is to take heat from adjacent soils and move it into the house. This is reversed in the winter. This is all done using classical refrigeration style circuits in order to create a sufficient temperature difference. It obviates any need for heating and cooling energy in the building.

Been very simple technology, no special tools needed. More importantly, it could be implemented completely in five years if a national need were recognized and it was simply pushed. Beyond that remote possibility, an incentive program would swiftly upgrade the current housing stock.

The important point here is that our two major sources of household energy use that is also most cyclic can be removed from the grid. It will not be completely demand neutral but will be more than close enough.

The historic logic for coal and wood and oil and natural gas has always been short term convenience and apparent cost. The convenience has always arrived as advertised. Cost has not because shortages always showed up. We are now beginning to stretch the limits of natural gas and that is reflected in strong prices.

Replacing all that with a heat pump and been utterly independent of most distributed fuels is a gift that just keeps on giving and adds value to the home. I only wish it were possible to do the same for transportation power.

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