Pros and Cons of Geothermal Home Heating Systems

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Warm and cozy (Photo: @Victoria_Beddoes via Twenty20)
If you’re considering a geothermal system for your home, you probably already know it’s an environmentally friendly method for heating and cooling a house. But while geothermal heat brings with it many benefits, there are also challenges to consider. Here are some of the pros and cons of residential geothermal heating.

Pro: Lower utility bills

One of the biggest benefits of a geothermal home heating system is lower utility bills. In fact, in some cases heating and cooling costs have been cut as much as 70% when using a geothermal system. While the climate can make a difference on the size of the impact, you can expect to lower your expenses to some degree no matter what. Because a geothermal home uses the sun and ground to generate and disperse a consistent temperature, it does not use as much fuel and power to heat and cool a house. It can also be used to run your hot water heater, so there is even more savings.

Pro: Energy efficiency

Because geothermal heating use less energy to heat and cool a home, they are extremely energy efficient. Unlike oil and gas, this system uses the natural insulation of the ground to keep the air at a steady temperature. By running a pipe system filled with liquid underground at a certain depth, it can feed off this source to keep your home at a consistent temperature, too. Fossil fuels take twice as many kilowatts to produce the same amount of energy as a geothermal system.

Pro: Ease of care

A geothermal system is completely indoors or underground, so it is protected from the environment. This means there is very little need to clean or maintain it. While regular maintenance is recommended to make sure the piping system does not generate sediment or mineral build-up, it is pretty easy to take care of.

Pro: Long lasting

Because a residential geothermal system is protected from the elements, it is extremely long lasting and very reliable. Many homes have had the same pump for more than 20 years and the piping system lasts five to six times longer than that. This is part of the reason the standard warranty period ranges between 25 to 50 years, which is high for a home heating and cooling system.

Pro: Environment friendly

Another benefit of residential geothermal homes is they are environment friendly. They do not emit greenhouse gases, have little impact on natural resources and do not need fossil fuels to operate. While they do need electricity to work, if you have solar panels you can generate power from another eco-friendly source.

Con: Expensive upfront cost

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are not cheap. The energy-efficient system with installation can cost between $20,000 and $30,000. You also must ensure your home is well insulated or you will lose most of the benefit of lower utility bills. If you plan on being in your house for more than 10 years, the investment will likely pay for itself. However, if you think you might move before then, it may not be worth the cost.

Con: Backup heating source

Depending on where you live, you may need a backup heating source. This is because a residential geothermal home disperses air at a constant and consistent temperature. If a day is extremely cold, this may not be enough to keep your house comfortable. If a furnace has to turn on, this will cut into some of your cost savings.

Con: Location requirements

There are location requirements to think about when considering a residential geothermal home. For example, the type of soil and how close it is to the bedrock is important. The piping system must be buried at specific depths in order to take advantage of the consistent temperature. Also, you need a reliable water source that will provide enough output and has the correct pH levels.
Knowing the pros and cons of residential geothermal homes can help you decide if this type of heating and cooling system is right for you and your needs. While upfront costs are considerable, the benefits and savings can outweigh this concern if you plan on being in your home for years to come.