Now that the government has given Energy Star accreditation for water-to-water geothermal heat pumps, you can heat your home hydronically and get your 30% renewable energy tax credit. This is provided you are interested in installing or replacing a radiant floor heating system. For those who want to swap out their gas or oil-fired boiler with a geothermal unit, you will have to wait a year or two. Unfortunately, ground source heat pump compression technology in its current state is only capable of a maximum of 120 to 140 degrees F supply water discharge temperatures. This is fine for radiant floor heating, domestic hot water and ice/snow melt systems, but you will need at least 160 to 180 degrees output to swap out your old boiler if you heat with hot water baseboard radiation or hydro-air (duct mounted hot water coils).
We get many calls from people who want to install geothermal heat pumps, but have baseboard radiation and don’t want to install ductwork or in-floor radiant. There is not much we can do for them. However, I have it on good authority that a high output water-to-water geothermal heat pump is in the R & D funnel at WaterFurnace Industries. I can promise you that when it is brought to market, we will be the first Guinea pigs!