Geothermal FAQ's

The EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy recognize geothermal systems as the most environmentally friendly way to heat and cool. Unlike other comfort systems, geothermal does not emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or other greenhouse gasses which contribute to air quality pollution. There is no combustion in a geothermal heat pump; therefore there is no chance of carbonmonoxide poisoning. By adding high efficiency air cleaners with geothermal, a high indoor air quality level can be reached.

Geothermal systems typically have a lifespan of 15-20 years rather than a 7-10 year lifespan on a conventional furnace and air conditioning system. The ground loop of the geothermal system (the pipes buried in your yard) is made up of polypropylene pipe, the same pipe which is used in city gas lines, and they have a lifespan up to 50 years.

Geothermal is an investment. For many retrofit applications and especially new construction the energy savings will more than offset the cost of installation. On average, Geothermal heat pump users will see a 30%-70% reduction in their heating and cooling costs. That savings, over a period of time, plus utility rebates combined with Federal and State* tax incentives can roduce a return on investment in as little as 3 years. Recent studies have also shown an increase in home values for those with Geothermal systems due to the environmental impact and long-term savings.

A geothermal heat pump is an extremely competitive choice for a market forced to deal with rising energy costs and resource depletion because they are renewable and the most efficient heating and cooling system available today. Add in the fact that many ground source heat pumps can heat a home’s water for virtually no additional cost, you quickly realize that you can’t lose with a properly designed and installed geothermal heat pump.

It is true that a Geothermal heat pump installation can be more convenient during the construction. However, Geothermal heat pumps also provide a great option for replacing or upgrading an existing heating and cooling system to take advantage of this clean, safe & renewable energy.

As it turns out, geothermal is flexible and able to accommodate a variety of landscapes, from rocky, small-sized lots, to sprawling acreage. Numerous loop field installations have made it possible to install a Geothermal system just about anywhere.

A Geothermal heat pump is capable of providing consistent and adequate heating and cooling for your entire house as long as it is properly sized and installed. Make sure you only work with a contractor that is experienced and qualified in Geothermal heat pump design and installation to avoid any problems.

Although many parts of the country experience seasonal temperature extremes — from scorching
heat in the summer to sub-zero cold in the winter—a few feet below the earth’s surface the ground
remains at a relatively constant 55 degrees. So when the outside temperature is below freezing, a
geothermal heat pump should have no trouble extracting enough heat to keep your home 72 degrees or
more. Even when the ground freezes, the frost usually only extends three or four feet below the surface
which is not deep enough to effect the geothermal loop pipes which should be buried at least 7 feet
below the surface.

Archaeological evidence shows that over 10,000 years ago the North American Paleo-Indians settled near hot springs and were the first humans to use geothermal energy. Since many people live in areas without those hot springs, another way of harnessing the earth’s renewable energy was needed. So, in 1948 Professor Carl Nielsen of Ohio State University developed the first groundwater heat pump, for use at his residence. While modern advances in technology have increased the efficiency of these machines, the concept remains the same. Today, 85,000 geothermal heat pumps are installed annually across the United States and geothermal energy is considered an important step toward energy efficiency and the reduction of global warming.

Solar FAQ's

Your current monthly energy use and the size of your system will determine your actual savings amount. How much you save depends on a number of factors such as; daily hours of direct sunlight, system size, performance, your average energy usage as well as any applicable solar credits, tax incentives, and current solar energy buyback (net metering) rates offered by your utility company.

The recommended size of your system depends on your energy usage, the available area to install solar panels and on how much electricity you intend to produce. System design and production estimates can easily be calculated by one of our solar experts during a free site assessment.

The superior design of solar panels makes them highly durable. Lack of moving parts is one reason why solar panels are very durable. Carefully designed for exterior use, solar panels are able to withstand wide ranges of temperatures, weather conditions, and outside factors. They are rigorously tested to stay strong against tree limbs, hail traveling at 50 mph and more.

If your solar panels become covered after a snowstorm, don’t panic. Typically snow covered solar panels ‘self-clear’ quite well on the next sunny day. On an annual basis, the amount of energy production loss due to snow is fairly minor.

As a safety precaution, inverters and panels automatically power down during a grid outage to protect utility line workers. When power is restored through the grid lines, your solar system will automatically power on.

Solar installations can help reduce or nearly eliminate your electricity bill however, utility grid-tied installations will always maintain a base monthly meter fee for interconnection service. Avoiding meter fees and eliminating your utility bill all together is achievable with an off-grid solar system that incorporates battery energy storage.

While the idea of cutting ties with the electric company may seem romantic, in reality, it is anything but practical except for very specific cases (generally when utility power is not available and prohibitively expensive to install).

Typically, utility grid-tied solar installations have the greatest financial return and can benefit from net metering, a billing mechanism which allows solar producers to earn credit from the utility for excess solar production to apply for future use when the sun’s not shining.

Typically, damage to your solar equipment should be covered by your property insurance policy. However, it’s wise to advise your insurance agent of your solar installation and review your policy’s coverage in case a special endorsement is needed.

Federal and state tax credits are currently available for homeowners and businesses to promote energy efficiency, encourage the use of renewable energy sources, and support efforts to conserve energy and lessen pollution.

Iowa offers a tax credit equal to 50% of the federal solar tax credit of 30%. Both can be claimed on your yearly tax returns for after a solar installation was completed on your home. Individuals and businesses are eligible for a state tax credit up to a maximum of $5,000. Any excess credit (i.e., if your credit reduces your tax burden below $0) may be carried over for up to ten years.

New solar owners in Iowa must apply online by May 1st of the year after installation. Each year, the state has a $5 million cap for all tax credits, but timely applications will be put on a waiting list for the next year’s limit. Once your application is approved, a tax credit certificate will be mailed to you.

Solar panels generally require very little maintenance since there are no moving parts. A few times a year, the panels should be inspected for any dirt or debris and connections checked. Always make sure you are safety conscious when inspecting panels and don’t take any needless risks!

Call Rabe Hardware for annual or corrective maintenance as required.

The best way to assure your project is performing at its best is through a solar panel monitoring system. Monitoring systems provide data on the electrical output of your solar system. You can track this data over time to calculate degradation of your panels. Monitoring systems also provide a notification if there is a malfunction or damage.

All Rabe Hardware solar installations are outfitted with live monitoring that gives real-time output, accessible from any web-enabled device so you can make sure your panels are always producing and performing at maximum capacity.