The Value of Geothermal Heating
Geothermal heat pumps are expensive, but they pay big dividends in energy savings.
By: Karin Beuerlein
A geothermal (ground-source) heat pump converts the heat of the earth into heat for your home. Consisting of a series of looped pipes drilled deep into the ground, a geothermal system works the same way a regular air-source heat pump does: by harvesting existing heat rather than creating it through combustion, as a gas furnace would. It also works in reverse to remove heat from the air and cool your home in summer.
Because the temperature of the earth at a certain depth is fairly constant and the pipes don't lose any heat to ambient air, the systems are extremely efficient. The energy savings beat just about any other home improvement project you can undertake.
An Energy Star geothermal heat pump is about 45 percent more efficient than a standard heat pump, which translates into an annual energy savings of 30 percent to 60 percent. For the average U.S. household, that's $660 to $1,320. You'll realize the most savings if you include a device that heats water, as well.
Do the Math
Considering the potential five-figure price tag, you may think a geothermal heat pump is out of your range, but be sure to add up the numbers first. Geothermal is one of the few home upgrades that still qualify for a federal tax credit through 2016. The credit equals 30 percent of the total price of purchase and installation of an Energy Star-qualified system with no upper limit, which could add up to $7,500 or more.
Combine that with the possibility of state and local utility rebates and an average $1,000 annual reduction on your energy bill, and you could be looking at a complete return of your investment in two to 10 years.
What's more, the projected lifespan of a geothermal system is 20 to 50 years, which is several times what you'd expect for a standard HVAC system.
Geothermal Heat Pump 02:18
Geothermal heat pumps use the earth's natural energy to heat or cool homes.
Evaluate your Property
Martin Gorman is general manager for Sinton Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc., which specializes in geothermal systems. According to Martin, geothermal can work for you no matter where you live. But the price you'll pay for your system depends on the overall energy efficiency of your house and the geologic features of your property, both of which should be evaluated by a qualified professional before work begins.
If your property has no rock formations underneath, expect to pay more because drilling will be more difficult and precautions must be taken to keep the bore holes from collapsing.
A typical installation in a house with existing ductwork takes three to five days. "There is some disruption to the landscape," says Martin. "But grass grows back, and everything is below grade."
The Benefits of HVAC Upgrades
Upgrade your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and streamline your energy bill with these tips.
The Perks of Solar Powered Attic Fans
Before installing solar attic fans, learn more about the benefits they provide, including comfort and modest energy savings.
Cash In on LED Lighting
LED lamps may be costly, but they'll save you money in the long run.
Smart Thermostats That Save
Learn why programmable thermostats are a smart way to save on your heating and cooling costs.
Save With Home Insulation
Addressing leaky ducts and adding attic insulation can save you significantly on your energy bills.
Smart Appliance Upgrades
Be proactive about appliance replacement, and don't wait until your old machine stops working to upgrade to an energy efficient model.
Windows That Work With Your Wallet
Replacing old windows makes your house more comfortable and comes with a small savings bonus.
Lower Bills With Low-Flow Faucets
Don't let your home drain your pockets. Consider low-flow showerheads and faucets as a money-saving solution.
Cost-Efficient Window Solutions
Keep the drafts out and your energy bills lower with these tips to stop air leaks around your windows and doors.
Replace Old Heating and Air Unit With New Efficient HVAC System
A superior HVAC unit balances humidity and boosts efficiency.
Test Your Skills With HGTV Magazine’s High/Low Challenge
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Sep 2, 2015 by Alyssa Sparacino
Photo Friday: Cooking and Dining in the Great Outdoors
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 28, 2015 by Beth Rucker
This or That: Pick Your Favorite Vintage Find From Fixer Upper
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 27, 2015 by Farima Alavi
6 Essentials for the Perfect Tailgate Party + Win the 1 Thing You Really Need
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 25, 2015 by Farima Alavi
Discover the Winning Hue in Our Color Vs. Color Competition!
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 24, 2015 by Kayla Kitts
Copy This Room: Get Beach Flip Style in Your Living Room
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 24, 2015 by Shannon Petrie
4 Ways to Personalize Your Dorm Desk + College Goodie Giveaway!
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 21, 2015 by Farima Alavi