Geothermal heating prices are what you wish your normal utility bill would look like. Do you know what your heating bill will be next month or next year? Can you be certain your home can hold a steady temperature despite the weather or seasons? The earth can and that is what geothermal heating relies on. Modern heating and cooling systems rely largely on either oil or natural gas to heat our homes. Geothermal heating systems rely on the earth itself to handle much of the heavy lifting with minimal need for external power sources. Having the earth take care of your heating and cooling sounds like fantasy but I assure you it's not.
How Does Geothermal Heating Work?
If you were to go as little as ten feet below the Earth's surface, you would find that the ambient temperature stays right around 50 degrees Fahrenheit despite the season or conditions. The Earth is incredibly insulated. Geothermal heating and cooling systems take advantage of this constant temperature to alter the temperature of the air in a home.
This diagram shows a rough demonstration of a geothermal system at its most basic. The system Credit: Credit: http://www.earthtechling.com/2010/11/missouri-tech-school-ditching-coal-wood/involves a series of holes drilled in to the ground. A tube system is then fed into holes. Liquid placed into the tubes carry the hot or cold temperatures into the ground to either dissipate or absorb heat depending on temperature in the house. No matter what temperature liquid travels through the system it will come back up at roughly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Any further heating or cooling needs are done with a standard oil or gas system. The Earth just does the initial heavy lifting at the cost of a small electric motor to power the pumps. Of course this equipment does cost more than your standard heating and cooling system if the sticker prices are put side by side.
Why Is the Equipment More Expensive?
From just looking at the above diagram you can see that a geothermal system is much more involved than a standard oil tank and water heater combination. Much of the cost is the work to properly dig the holes or trenches so that the tubing can be placed into the ground. Estimates will vary depending on the state of the ground as well as the house. The square footage of the home and insulation quality will decide the final cost of installation. Geothermal systems are compatible with most household heating infrastructures so you would not need to redo your entire home. A ball park estimate of cost would be roughly an 80 percent increase in cost over your standard heating and cooling system. However, there is a tax credit of up to 30 percent of the system cost as part of the country's Green initiative.
What Are the Benefits?
If you were to go through with digging a series of holes in your lawn and pay a premium price for a heating and cooling system, than you might be wondering the possible benefits. There are two mindsets when someone goes through with installing a geothermal system: ecological and financial.
Ecological: Rather than rely on fossil fuels to keep your home warm in the Winter and power plants to keep your home cool in the Summer you would be harnessing the natural ability of the Earth to regulate temperature. Using the ground for shelter is nothing new. We didn't live in caves just because it kept the rain off. Mankind has always known that the temperature is stable inside the Earth but we're only now figuring out how to bring that same idea into the modern home.
Financial: For many people it will all come down to money in the end. While preserving the Earth may come as an added bonus it is not a primary concern for many. The numbers make a geothermal system a sound investment with an outstanding return on investment. The average heating cost reduction in the United States falls between 30 and 70 percent. The average savings for cooling is between 20 and 50 percent. Your personal savings will depend on your home's insulation and your local cost of oil or natural gas but there will be savings. Geothermal systems are also much more reliable which require less maintenance and have a lifespan two to three times that of a standard heating and cooling system. The breakeven point for most owners is around 11 years. The numbers are clear that geothermal heating prices make sense if you plan on staying in your house for the long-term.
No matter what your reasoning for looking into a geothermal system, ecological or financial, it is a winner for both.