The Top FAQs About Geothermal Heating & Cooling Systems

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are highly efficient and equally cost-effective. If you plan to make changes to your existing HVAC system, or are building a new home or business and are considering your options, geothermal is certainly worth investigating.

To help you learn more, here we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this innovative and exciting home comfort technology…

How does a geothermal heating and cooling system function?The Top FAQs About Geothermal Heating & Cooling Systems

Geothermal systems take advantage of temperature differentials between the surface of the earth and the ground beneath our feet, to heat or cool homes or businesses. While temperatures above the ground rise and fall with the seasons, several feet underground temperatures never fluctuate outside the 45-55 degrees.

What makes a geothermal system different from more conventional HVAC systems?

Furnaces and air conditioners generate heated or cooled air onsite for forced-air distribution. Geothermal systems, on the other hand, transfer already-existing heat from one location to another, depending on the heating or cooling needs of the moment.

What is a geothermal heat pump?

A geothermal heat pump is the appliance responsible for the transfer of heat in a geothermal system. In these heat pumps a liquid solution flows through a loop of buried pipes, absorbing heat at one end for release at the other. It uses a compressor to increase concentrations of heat as required.

How deeply are geothermal ground loops buried?

In horizontal closed-loop systems, the plastic pipes that comprise the ground loop are buried in trenches dug 4-8 feet deep. Trench shape may vary based on the characteristics of the property surrounding a home or business.

Vertical closed-loop systems are constructed differently. Holes are dug approximately 20 feet apart to a depth of up to 400 feet. Pipes are inserted vertically and joined at the bottom by a U-shaped connector.

How much does a geothermal heating and cooling system cost?

Considering all variables, installing a geothermal heat pump system is likely to cost you somewhere between $12,000 and $20,000.

In general, you’ll invest twice as much upfront for a new geothermal system as you would for a new furnace plus air conditioner. But by comparison, geothermal heating can save you as much as 70 percent on your monthly utility bills.

Do you have financing options available?

Yes, it is.. Often enough to cover 100 percent of a project’s cost and with no initial down payment. You can structure your financing package so your monthly energy savings will surpass your monthly payments.

And we’ll show you how to take advantage of the federal government’s 30 percent tax credit for renewal energy, too.

What will be the physical impact on my property if I go geothermal?

The excavation can cause some damage to existing lawns. Trenches or holes will be filled once the pipes of the system are buried, but the surface will be restored to “rough grade” only. Geothermal installations are less disruptive if pipes are buried under non-landscaped areas, or where landscaping is planned for future.

Will the geothermal system increase my electricity consumption?

You will see some changes on your electricity bill. But modern heat pumps are highly energy-efficient, which will minimize the increase. Most importantly, your savings on fuel costs when you switch from conventional HVAC to geothermal will more than offset the higher utility bills.

How long does a geothermal installation take?

Approximately four days in most cases, including interior and exterior work. However, if you need a new ductwork system installed to complement your geothermal system, that could take 2-3 weeks to finish.

Do geothermal heating and cooling systems require a lot of maintenance?

Absolutely not. Buried pipe networks are protected from decay or leakage and can keep going strong for decades. Geothermal heat pumps should continue running smoothly and efficiently for about 25 years, and as long as you remember to keep them clean by changing filters they shouldn’t accrue significant repair costs.

What’s the return on investment, generally speaking?

Geothermal heat pumps deliver consistent savings throughout their lifespan. For homeowners that currently rely on propane and/or heating oil, switching to geothermal could deliver a 5-8 percent annual ROI, in the form of reduced energy costs.

The savings if you’re switching from natural gas may not be quite as high. But they’ll still good enough to cover your initial investment costs in a reasonable amount of time.

Will investing in a geothermal system increase the value of my property?

If you have a geothermal energy system installed and paid for when you decide to sell your home, that could increase your home’s resale value by $15,000-$20,000. These numbers come from studies on the impact of solar panels on resale prices, and since geothermal is every bit as efficient as solar the same figures should apply.

What type of heat distribution system does a geothermal heat pump require?

Geothermal systems can smoothly interface with ducted air distribution networks or with in-floor radiant heat systems. Consequently, if you have geothermal installed you’ll likely be able to do so with minimal disruption inside your home.

Can a geothermal system also keep my home cool in the summer?

Despite the name, a heat pump is an all-seasons’ heating and cooling appliance. It will eliminate your need for an air conditioner once and for all.

Will I get hot water from my geothermal system?

Your geothermal heat pump can function as a water heater. It must be combined with a type of heat exchanger known as a desuperheater, which will harvest excess heat for this purpose. Desuperheaters are often included with heat pumps but can be purchased as an add-on if they are not.

A geothermal heat pump can’t replace your existing water heater. But it can still reduce your water heating costs by 50-60 percent.

If I have a geothermal heat pump, will I still need a furnace?

No. Geothermal heat pumps can successfully exploit temperature differences between the surface air and the deep soil even during the most extreme weather conditions.

Is geothermal popular in Colorado?

Geothermal heating and cooling is underutilized in Colorado, just as it is elsewhere in the United States. But it is a growing industry here with magnificent potential for further expansion.

Word is getting out about the energy-efficiency advantages of geothermal, and more and more Colorado homeowners are jumping on the bandwagon.

Get Informed on Geothermal at ABE Heating and Cooling

If you have more questions about geothermal heating and cooling systems, ABE can give you the answers. Together we can decide if geothermal is right for you, and if it is we can offer an affordable package of expert installation services plus superior-quality equipment built to last. We are located in Brighton, Colorado and serve the entire Denver Metro Area, and if you’re thinking about going geothermal please call us today to discuss your home energy future.