Geothermal is an efficient and exciting alternative to traditional heating and cooling sources. What are its pros and cons?
In this article, we’ll look at some advantages that geothermal has over gas and oil heating and traditional air conditioning. We’ll also examine where geothermal has its drawbacks, as well as other things to consider.
What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy?
Pro: Longer lifespan than traditional HVAC equipment
Of course, this is a big pro because the longer you can get use out of any investment, the better. Replacing a furnace will be a required cost every 15 to 20 years, while a traditional air conditioner will need replacement in as little as every 10 to 15 years, likely with plenty of maintenance calls along the way for both.
On the other hand, the major components of a well-designed and -installed geothermal system can last 50 years or more. The only part of a geothermal system that will likely need to be replaced sooner is the heat pump itself, right around the 20 to 25 year mark. The heat pump cost itself is comparable to a hyper-efficient furnace and AC -- between $1,500 to $2,500 per ton.
Con: Higher upfront cost for geothermal
Of course, the initial costs of buying a geothermal system are more than purchasing a standard gas furnace or air conditioner.
Buying a new furnace could cost anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 upfront. This is based on what type of furnace you get, how efficient it is, its size, and installation costs.
A new air conditioning system can cost around $3,400 to $6,000, depending on similar parameters.
Geothermal, including drilling and installation, has a price tag anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000, sometimes more. Dandelion Air comes with both heating and cooling and only costs around $20,000 after incentives are applied, though the total cost can increase with complexity or if multiple systems are needed. The investment can easily be alleviated with Dandelion’s simple financing options as well. If it’s already time to replace your existing HVAC equipment, the cost of geothermal is only a marginal increase with longer value -- and eliminates all monthly oil or gas expenses.
Pro: Saves money in the short- and long-term
When you add up the costs of ACs and furnaces, which will need replacement sooner than a geothermal system, the initial cost is well worth it. Geothermal heating and cooling come with extremely low operating costs. They also eliminate heating bills.
Also, with a geothermal system, you will hit a point where you’ve paid yourself back for installing the system, and your maintenance costs are incredibly low or nonexistent. This is unlike traditional HVAC systems, which require buying your heat source or AC unit as well as the equipment, plus keeping up with frequent maintenance.
Con: Requires skilled geothermal installers and designers
Of course, having your house inspected by a professional is always advisable before a big home improvement project. However, you might be able to swing a new furnace purchase on your own, or by hiring a handy friend or neighbor to install your new AC unit.
A geothermal system install is definitely not a DIY project. For geothermal heating and cooling that will pay you back in dividends as a highly efficient system, you have to make sure it’s designed and installed correctly—by qualified technicians.
Pro: Geothermal adds to your home’s equity
Installing geothermal heating and cooling will mean a major improvement that can actually increase your home’s value.
Traditional HVAC investments can burn money as more of a liability than an investment. Though you might be able to use a newer furnace as a selling point, over time, a furnace or AC unit depreciates in value, like a car once it’s driven off the lot.
Con: Geothermal still uses electricity
Just because it’s an incredibly efficient system doesn’t mean you won’t pay anything to the utility company anymore. A geothermal system still needs electricity to run. Of course, a well-designed and -executed geothermal system can cut utility bills 40 to 60 percent.
Other HVAC solutions also use electricity, so this isn’t all that unique, but a geothermal system does use more electricity. However, unlike traditional HVAC equipment, geothermal can be powered by solar, making it even cleaner and more cost-effective.
Either way, you can take control of energy bills by harvesting an energy source you already own (right in your yard!). It’s a reliable source that’s not subject to price fluctuations like fossil fuels.
Pro: No unsightly equipment outside your home
Say goodbye to propane tanks, window AC units, and outdoor AC condensers taking up space in your backyard. Geothermal is a quiet and visually discrete way to heat and cool your home, with most of the equipment buried underground.
The only piece you’ll ever see is the heat pump, which can reside where your furnace once did.
Dandelion is able to serve most homes with vertical wells, but some homes have elements that are not conducive to drilling, such as power lines over the property, or no space for the drill rig in the yard.
As for various types of sites, Dandelion can drill through rock, soil, water, etc., so variation in site geology is generally not a concern.
Geothermal simply pulls heat from the earth or dumps heat from your home into the earth. It’s an abundant resource that significantly reduces carbon emissions and requires no combustion of any kind.
Con: Some geothermal systems aren’t as eco-friendly
There are certain geothermal companies that might use installation methods such as using copper pipes or anti-freeze solutions that aren’t safe and could leak into the groundwater.
These problems are avoided with Dandelion, as we never use copper piping, and only use food-grade fluid in a closed-loop system that is completely safe.
Pro: Access to geothermal incentives
On a local, state, and federal level, there are lots of ways to save even more money on your home geothermal system. If you live in Westchester, this is especially true if you get geothermal through Dandelion.
Con: These incentives won’t last forever
The federal 30-percent tax break for geothermal will only be available at its full value for the remainder of 2019. After that, it starts to decrease every year for the next two years before going away entirely.
Read more about federal geothermal incentives here: The 2019 Federal Geothermal Tax Credit: Your Questions Answered