Geothermal heating is a fantastic way to incorporate green, renewable and efficient technologies in a home. However, retrofitting existing homes can prove a challenge depending on factors including the design of the home and the existing infrastructure. This may leave you asking—Is geothermal heating right for my home? How warm does geothermal heating get and what are some of the pros and cons?
Let the HVAC experts at Aire Serv® answer these questions and more!
How Warm Does Geothermal Heating Get?
There is often the concern that geothermal heating is not able to deliver the required heat to a dwelling, particularly in colder months. However, if the system is scaled correctly to the dwelling, a geothermal heating unit can provide ample heat year-round. Rather than a traditional air-source heat pump that relies on variable exterior air temps, geothermal heating is generated from underground, where the temperature is relatively constant. The comparatively insular underground temperatures mean that geothermal heating remains efficient even in the colder months.
In order to maintain efficiency, geothermal heat pumps are also scaled to provide only the necessary amount of heat for the home. In the throes of the coldest day of the year, the heat pump may run continuously to meet the supply, but this is normal and does not overstress the system.
Geothermal Heating Pros and Cons
Geothermal heating is a renewable energy source viable for more conditions and climates than one would be led to believe. However, like any energy source, geothermal heating does have some drawbacks.
Here are some geothermal heating pros and cons:
Geothermal Heating Pros
- Geothermal heating is environmentally friendly
Geothermal heating does not involve combustion like a gas furnace and, since it requires only a small amount of electricity to work, is not a significant source of pollution, massively reducing your home’s carbon footprint.
- Geothermal systems can replace AC units and water heaters
Depending on your total setup, geothermal technologies can also be used to cool the air temperature and heat water in your home. When these technologies work together, they can further reduce your utility bills and carbon footprint.
- Geothermal heating is efficient
Geothermal heating systems are highly efficient—up to 300-500 percent in comparison to 95 percent for the high-end furnaces. Geothermal relies on moving already available heat, rather than generating new heat.
- Geothermal heating may increase cost savings
The high efficiency of heating and cooling afforded by geothermal systems results in lower energy bills compared to traditional heating systems.
- Geothermal heating can be built to scale
Geothermal heating can be installed to provide heating to a cozy dwelling all the way to a spacious commercial structure. A properly scaled system can meet the heating demands for any square footage.
Geothermal Heating Cons
- Initial geothermal start-up costs
While geothermal heating does afford monthly energy savings, the initial cost is high. The upfront investment can be $10,000 to $20,000 to have it installed. However, federal tax credits are available. For example, in 2020, you can receive a tax credit for 26 percent of the cost of a residential geothermal system ($2,600-$5,400).
- Older homes and older systems may pose retrofitting problems
Geothermal heating is often most viable for newly (and/or newer) constructed homes and structures. Attempting to retrofit geothermal to an older structure can get complicated and costly as it involves heavy excavation near the home’s foundation.
- Some systems may substantially increase water use
Certain open loop geothermal heating systems that rely upon groundwater could conceivably affect well water supply by drawing a large amount of water into the system.
- Repair may be costly
Since a portion of the geothermal heating system is situated underground, any damage to the piping in the loop can be costly to repair. Repairs are infrequent and unlikely, but it is important to consider before making a switch in systems.
So, Is Geothermal Heating Right for My Home?
Geothermal heating (and cooling) may be more viable for your dwelling than you may have thought. Able to deliver ample heat even in the dead of winter, and replace your aging air conditioner in the summer, geothermal heating may be right for your dwelling. However, it is not a flawless system. Though clean and efficient, weighty initial investment and the difficulty in retrofitting existing structures can put a damper on your geothermal heating desires.
Not sure if geothermal heating is for you? Call (855) 679-0011 or request an appointment online to learn more.
Speaking of heat, when did you last inspect your water heater? Learn everything you need to know about water heater mishaps from our friends at Rainbow International. Like Aire Serv, Rainbow International is a member of the Neighborly® family of home service brands.