Disadvantages of Geothermal Heating Systems
Geothermal heating systems offer lower energy bills, support a green lifestyle and create very comfortable indoor climates. However, there are a few noticeable disadvantages of geothermal heating systems, and for the most part, they are tied to a much higher initial cost.
This Geothermal Guide article provides useful information about those disadvantages, and how they can relate to the higher initial cost of a Geothermal System for your home. If initial cost is secondary to your decision, make sure you consider all the Pros and Cons of Geothermal as well.
High Installation Costs
Geothermal energy systems are expensive to install. Currently, the cost of installation is 2-3 times that of the installation of a conventional HVAC system, and possibly more. This translates into a payback period of 10-15 years. That means that it will take 10-15 years of getting lower energy bills produced by geothermal heating systems to pay for them. Much of the cost is in the loop and the installation cost to install it. The geothermal loop won’t have to be replaced for 100+ years and the cost of the geothermal condensing unit or hydronic unit isn’t vastly more than conventional HVAC equipment. The high installation cost is a one-time expense in the life of most homeowners.
It should be noted that current geothermal tax credits, through 2016 at least, cut geothermal system prices by 30%. That’s a significant savings in geothermal heating system prices. Many states and local utility companies are also offering incentives for the purchase and installation of geothermal cooling and heating systems.
Higher Repair Costs
Repairs to geo thermal heating equipment cost slightly more than repairs to conventional HVAC equipment, but the difference isn’t great and its becoming less with each generation of equipment. The higher repair prices come mostly from leaks or breaks in the loop. While these are not common, and rarely occur when qualified geothermal contractors are used, it can be very expensive to dig up the loop to find and fix the problem.
Specialized Geothermal Contractors are Required
Most local HVAC contractors are not qualified to install, maintain or repair geothermal energy systems. It requires a geothermal contractor to have the job done correctly. There are few geothermal contractors in some area so your selection may not be as good as you’d like. Since the total quality of the geothermal system including its reliability and durability is dependent on the quality of the installation, it is important to find an experienced geothermal contractor of the highest caliber. They are out there but you may have to search a bit more widely to find the right geothermal contractor for your job.
If you are installing a geothermal cooling and heating system in an existing home, be prepared to have your landscape disrupted! Lawn, shrubs, small trees, flower beds, decks and patios are among the items that may have to be relocated for installation of a geothermal heating system. Replacing or relocating some of those items may add to your costs as well.
Geothermal energy systems that use a loop submerged in a pond may require the drilling and installation of a well dedicated to that purpose. The cost of the well will be added to your costs. In some situations, an existing well provides a sufficient amount of water to supply the needs of the geo thermal HVAC system. A geothermal contractor will be able to advise you on whether or not a new well is required.
Whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for you can be a difficult choice. It depends on your budget, your heating and cooling goals and your lifestyle. This geothermal guide offers the kind of information you need to make an educated decision about the place of a geothermal cooling and heating system in your future.