Whether you’re looking to go green or trying to save on your energy bills, many people are looking for alternatives to control the temperature in their home. Geothermal is one such option that leverages an abundant supply of renewable energy and growing technological support in its favor. However, the initial cost can be quite high which requires homeowners to consider their long term savings and energy goals before installation. We’ve pulled together a few things you should consider before taking the dive into geothermal.
1) Renewable Energy…And a Lot of It!
Geothermal energy is naturally, constantly produced by out planet and, unlike fossil fuels, does not have a finite reserve limit. Current estimates show geothermal’s sustainability will last several billion years, whereas current coal reserves are only estimated to last 400 years. Another advantage geothermal has over other energy sources, even solar and wind power, is its constant production. Solar and wind power can be affected by shifting weather patterns, but miles below the Earth’s surface things are a little more constant allowing geothermal pumps to work optimally regardless of surface conditions.
2) Low maintenance
In the United States, there are geothermal energy systems that have lasted decades and require little additional maintenance when compared to traditional HVAC systems. Annual filter changes and equipment checks are highly advised to ensure proper function of the fans, compressors, and pumps that make up the system. Typically, most components are housed indoors which largely protects them from debris and damage that can occur to outdoor units.
3) Installation Costs Can be High
The greatest cost associated with residential geothermal energy is the up front installation costs. Standard HVAC systems are designed to operate under different temperature and pressure conditions which often requires they be removed and replaced with new geothermal-friendly infrastructure. Drilling for the actual reservoir can also drive up costs if it is difficult to get to or find. Many homeowners find this to be a major detractor as geothermal installation is usually significantly more expensive than installing traditional HVAC or blown air components.
4) Long Term Savings
This, along with the going green factor, is one of geothermal’s greatest assets. The longer you utilize a geothermal energy system, the more cumulative savings you will see. A newly installed system will take 5-10 years to begin paying itself off which makes geothermal ideal for homeowners looking to stay in their current residence for an extended period of time. Looking to move in 2 or 3 years? You might want to consider mini-splits instead. While fossil fuel prices are subject to wide fluctuation, geothermal costs are very fixed, amplifying the cost savings over time.
5) Minimal Emissions
As fossil fuels like coal or propane are burned, they create carbon dioxide which is one of the gases that is a key contributor to the greenhouse effect, global warming, and climate change. While geothermal pumps do require a small amount of electricity to run, they do not burn anything to generate the energy needed to control the climate within your home and put out almost nothing in terms of air pollutants.