Geothermal Heat Pump Cost Per
How much does a geothermal system costs?
When you talk about a geothermal pump you are usually discussing some sort of
heating and cooling system. The modern geothermal pump, or GHP, relies on the
constant temperature of the earth (only a few feet below the surface) as a sort of
“exchange medium”. During cooler weather the GHP will pull the heat from the ground
– which retains a constant temperature between 45°F to 75°F - and carry it indoors
via a specially designed system. During the warmer months it can also reverse the
process and distribute the warmer air back into the ground.
The Costs of Residential Geothermal
Geothermal heating is one of the newest options for utilizing an earth friendly
(and wallet friendly) approach to home heating and cooling. It is also something
that can be used to create domestic hot water if necessary too. When considering
geothermal heating costs, however, it can be a bit confusing.
Why? There is the cost of the installation, which many people feel is a bit
prohibitive due to the planning, designing, drilling, and actual installation.
There is also the cost of running the system, which can be dramatically lower than
almost any other type of heating and cooling system.
Let’s first consider the proverbial “down side,” which is the price for the
installation. The basic cost for a system will be based on the “per ton of
capacity”. For example, if an installer charges $2,500 for a ton of capacity, the
price for a three ton system for the standard 2k square foot home will cost around
How does this measure up to a standard home heating and cooling system? It tends to
be almost twice as much to install the geothermal system! This is unfortunate
because so many people want to pay the lowest fees “up front”, but they don’t
consider the long term. For instance, a standard home heating system that relies on
fuel oil and electricity may cost around $4,000 to be installed, but it also costs
a lot more than that to continually operate and maintain.
The question is to understand how the pricing is “broken out” for the geothermal
systems. For instance, more than half of the cost will be dedicated to the “loop”
portion of the system, and this is what involves the drilling and digging in order
to install the pipes that gather or distribute heat. The rest of the price will go
to the pump, fan and heat exchanger that feed the air into the ductwork throughout
There can be costs associated with things like water heating equipment, landscaping
and extra fees for new ductwork, but we won’t consider those during a basic review
So, it costs roughly twice as much for someone to get the geothermal
installation…what are the operating fees? This is where the costs are easily and
quickly offset. For example, the average geothermal system is going to use around
50% less energy than a traditional home heating and cooling system. Additionally,
they demand far less out of pocket energy expenses as well. This often allows a
homeowner to payback the costs of installation in as little as five to ten years
Consider too that once the payback period is reached, it can be almost as if the
system is heating the home for almost nothing, in terms of financial fees, every
month. The system will also produce no pollution as well, and this is a win-win
situation for the homeowner who is helping to protect the environment too!
A geothermal system is expensive to install, but it costs little to operate,
demands almost no maintenance and upkeep, and will pay for itself in as little as
five years’ time.
How It All Works
Before we discuss how the geothermal pump works, we need to look at a geothermal
heating system. It is interesting to note that the modern designs have been in use
since the 1940s, but have only really “taken off” in terms of installation in homes
over the past few decades.
A geothermal heating (and cooling) system is actually very basic and easy to
understand. It helps to consider it by its other name which is a “ground source
heating system”. This means that the heat is pulled from the ground via a cleverly
designed “closed loop” system of pipes that are buried in the ground beneath a home
or property. These pipes contain water or a refrigerant that is circulated through,
and which pull the existing heat from, their surroundings. The heat is circulated
back up through the pipes where the warm liquid from the ground is passed in front
of a fan or blower unit.
The fluid remains contained within the pipes at all times (hence the “closed loop)
and the fan simply blows air around the pipes to force the heat into the ductwork.
This is an overly simplified explanation of how geothermal works, but it does help
to give you a good idea of the total absence of traditional energy supplies for a
large portion of the system.
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