Geothermal Heating Pros and Cons: 10 Things You Need to Know

Deciding on the best new or replacement HVAC system can be worrisome; the investment is quite large and the comfort and safety of your family are in play if you make the wrong choice. When considering geothermal heating for your new or existing home, be sure to look long-term at factors such as comfort, safety and cost.


Tax Credits and Energy Savings

Geothermal underfloorheating diagram

On the face, a geothermal heating and cooling system is more expensive to install than the most efficient traditional HVAC system. However, it is quite possible to make your money back from your initial investment within three to seven years. To reduce worries about geothermal heating pros and cons, remember that there are tax credits available to those who install these systems.

Installation Disruption

If you’re building a new home, installing a geothermal heat pump will not add much more disruption to the job site than is already in process. However, once the trenching/digging is done and the pipes are laid, you will not have to revisit that expense. Installing geothermal trenching and tubing around your existing home may be more disruptive; however, your installer can certainly help you choose the best site for trenches and deep digging.

Remember that your home has to have some sort of HVAC system; few of us are able to live in a climate that requires neither artificial heat nor cooling. You will need to put up with some mess and expense. A geothermal installation just means outside mess as well as inside.

Maintenance Costs

While a traditional HVAC system will need components replaced or upgraded over the years, your geothermal system should require few upgrades for the next 20 to 25 years. Of course, you’ll need to get the system serviced per the instructions from the manufacturer or on the advice of your installer. Nonetheless, concerns about replacing your a/c system on the hottest day of the year should not be a worry. Durability, reliability and consistency are a definite plus when considering geothermal heating pros and cons.

Heating and Cooling Bills

Here is where your geothermal system will save you money after your initial investment. You should find savings in your electric bill as your a/c costs will go down. Your gas usage for heat and hot water will drop as well. The deep trenching process for your system is a one-time expense;you can cover it, at least partially, with your tax credit.

Once the installation expense is compared to a traditional high efficiency HVAC, you can take comfort in the fact that rising energy costs will have little effect on your utility bills. If your old system was terribly inefficient, as many are, then the geothermal heating pros and cons pendulum will definitely swing away from a traditional HVAC system when reviewing energy costs.

Long Term Investment

Whether you plan to sell your home and upgrade or downsize to a smaller space, a geothermal system is a great selling point. When considering geothermal heating pros and cons, be aware that installing this system will increase the value of your home. Be sure to keep a copy of your “before and after” utility bills to show to your realtor and to prospective buyers.


Installation Costs

When building a new home or replacing a worn-out system, a geothermal system will still cost more than a traditional HVAC; in fact, a comparison of conventional system costs to a new geothermal system indicates that the geothermal installation will cost over $7,000 more.

Installation May Be Messy

If the HVAC in your home is completely worn out and needs replacing, a traditional system may require an upgrade to your ductwork. However, a geothermal system will require changes to your lawn as well as your ductwork. When considering geothermal heating pros and cons, the condition of your existing landscape must be included in the decision. You will need to have trenching professionally done and pipes laid to access the heating and cooling power of the earth. Your installation professional can help with layout decisions, but be prepared for some disruptions.

Maintenance Must Be Handled by a Professional

Once the system is in place, there is very little maintenance to do. There are few “cons” to the maintenance requirements of a geothermal system; of course, this is not something you can do yourself, nor should you skip any prescribed maintenance as require by your manufacturer or installer.

Making Your Money Back

There are many marketing promises as to how quickly you’ll get your money back; depending on the climate where you live, this may or may not be accurate. Be prepared for a sizable expense on the front end and expect payback to take a while.

This Is Not a Short Term Decision

There is no way around the fact that a geothermal system is more expensive on the front end. It is likely that you will get a tax credit, but that landscape is endlessly shifting. It is likely that you will be able to get some of your money back when you sell your house; however, housing markets are subject to many pressures. You will see a savings on your utility bills. If you plan to stay in the house for many years, there’s a very good chance that you’ll get your money back over time. When considering geothermal heating pros and cons, the remaining number of years you plan to stay in your home is of critical concern.

Summing Up

Geothermal heating and cooling technology has been around for many years, and modern systems offer the buyer tremendous efficiencies. Either a traditional HVAC or a geothermal system can be a great choice. However, your family needs and particularly the amount of time you mean to spend in this house should be carefully considered before you make your final decision.

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