Geothermal Home Heating

Are Geothermal Heating Systems a Good Option for Your Home?

Geothermal home heating is a compelling option for homeowners given the potential amount of money and energy that can be saved by utilizing a geothermal heat pump to heat and cool the home.

Geothermal heat is a renewable energy source and one that many more homeowners are considering, depending on geographic location and feasibility. Is geothermal a good choice for your home heating needs?

Benefits of Geothermal Heating Systems

  • Energy efficiency would be the top benefit of a geothermal heating and cooling system. Homeowners could potentially heat and cool their home for as little as $1 per day if the house is properly sealed and weatherproofed.

  • These systems utilize 25-50% less electricity than conventional heating systems

  • Geothermal heat is produced by the earth's core, which means it's renewable and won't run out.

  • The earth's temperature remains constant even during the winter months, so the heat pump can direct heat into the home even when it's brutally cold outside.

  • Geothermal home heating systems are efficient and operate quietly.

  • It's a perfect option for new home construction given the amount of land required and the fact that the ground will already be dug up to accommodate the foundation of the new house.

  • Geothermal systems can also be retrofit to existing homes.

  • Highly durable systems

  • Underground piping carries warranty of 25-50 years

  • Very little, if any, maintenance required

  • No outdoor parts or compressor susceptible to vandalism

  • Comfort year round - summer and winter

Drawbacks of Geothermal Home Heating Systems

  • High initial cost to install the system

  • Each geothermal unit must have electrical and plumbing

  • Antifreeze utilized in the pipes to keep water from freezing is an environmental hazard

  • Refrigerant loop systems are detrimental to the environment

  • Open-loop geothermal systems require a significant water source and an acceptable deposit area for the used water - city or state regulations may prohibit the dumping of the used water

  • Additional costs are incurred to install duct work for each space in the house

  • Cold climates require a backup system - more money

What Will a Geothermal Heating System Cost?

The installation of a geothermal system can vary depending on several factors including geography, zoning regulations, weather patterns, and land availability. In general, this type of system costs roughly $2,500 per ton to install. For example, most average size homes of about 2,000 square feet would require a 3-ton system, which means your initial cost would be about $7,500.

Drilling the holes for the underground piping is an additional cost of anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. The cost difference is significant because it depends on the topography of the land and any potential difficulties the drillers encounter during the job.

The good news is that the return on your investment could be within 5-10 years, at which time you could be heating and cooling your home for as little as $1 per day!

Will Geothermal Work for Me?

Geothermal heat pumps can be installed in almost any area of the world. Existing homes and new construction can both benefit from this type of heating and cooling system. It's a good idea to contact your local power company to see if anyone else in your area already has one and see what they pay per year to operate their system. Local contractors who are proficient with these types of installation will be able to tell you whether or not a geothermal system is a good idea for your location and your home.

You May Not Be a Good Candidate for Geothermal

The ductwork required for geothermal home heating installations is much larger and takes up more space than traditional heating systems. Smaller homes may not be able to accommodate the ductwork.

Geographic areas with shale and clay just beneath the surface aren't the best candidates for geothermal because of the difficulty of drilling the holes for the piping.

Geothermal heating systems are an excellent addition to your residence if you can justify the cost and are satisfied with the return you'll receive on your investment. Homeowners who plan to stay put in their home for years to come should definitely consider adding a geothermal system to their home.

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