Geothermal heating is an energy source that controls the temperature of your home or business. The system requires drilling holes a few feet into the ground where the temperature is consistent all year. The technology draws water on a loop from the hole and heats or cools your environment. While it seems like a great way to save on electricity costs and be conscientious of our environmental impact, geothermal heating systems have definite disadvantages.
The initial cost of installation is very large. The cost is also difficult to determine because it can vary depending on the size of the building and the type of soil. Heavier soil works best for geothermal systems because the heavier soil holds heat better. The type of soil will also determine how deep to drill, which will affect the cost. The pricing can start at close to $30,000 which is a huge commitment up front.
Due to the nature of the technology, geothermal systems require specialized training and knowledge. This should not be a DYI project and you shouldn’t attempt to do the maintenance on your system. This can also mean it is difficult to find qualified professionals to do the install.
While geothermal systems use less electricity than a standard HVAC system, they do still require some electricity to run the pump. Plus, the most commonly used system (closed loop) uses antifreeze for heat exchange which can be off-putting to those looking for eco-friendly energy sources. The polyurethane piping in the ground is fused together making leaks unlikely, but there is always that chance, and if a leak happens, even a small amount can be hazardous.
Taking all of those things into consideration, there are a few key advantages for people seriously searching for geothermal heating and cooling systems. Due to the nature of geothermal technology, the system is more of an environmentally friendly option than your traditional HVAC system; geothermal heat pumps use 25%-50% less electricity. If you’re willing to invest the huge upfront cost, a geothermal system is a good option. Plus, geothermal energy is a renewable resource, is available all year, and it is not dependent upon weather like solar or wind power. That said, if you’re unable or unwilling to invest the large upfront cost that Geothermal systems require, a 97% Modulating Variable Speed Gas Furnace or up to a 20.5 Seer Air Source Heat Pump are high end and efficient alternatives at have a much lower upfront cost.