Home geothermal is one of the most efficient and safe ways to keep your house toasty warm or icebox cool.
It’s also far more accessible than most people think.
Though geothermal has been around for a long time and is gaining popularity due to rising energy prices and simpler installation methods, some people still see geothermal as a somewhat mysterious operation, only braved by the extremely technically minded or the wealthy.
This impression of mystery can be intimidating and can perpetuate myths about how geothermal involves a complicated process of installation and maintenance at home.
We’re here to do some myth-busting! Geothermal is not as complicated or expensive as people fear. In this article, we’ll address the top 5 myths about home geothermal energy and detail why they’re simply not true.
Geothermal can’t be installed in an existing home
It might be tempting to think this myth holds some weight. Since some people build their houses from the ground up, digging space for ground-loop pipes needed for geothermal along with the foundation, you might think that this is the only opportunity to install a geothermal system.
But the truth is, while it certainly doesn’t hurt to install geothermal from the get-go, installing a new geothermal system for an existing house is just as easy. This is because the biggest part of a geothermal installation involves some digging in your yard to establish the underground piping to conduct heat back to the house or pull heat from the house in the summer to cool.
While this might sound intimidating, it takes just a couple of hours to survey your yard to figure out the best way to go about installing. Then it’s just two days to install a new ground loop pipe system for an established house with Dandelion. After that, it’s another couple of days for setting up the connections and getting the system running.
Dandelion is faster than most geothermal installs, but none of them tend to take more than a few days to a few weeks. This is true whether you’re building from scratch or adding geothermal to your existing home.
You need a large yard to install geothermal
Actually, to install the ground loops needed for a geothermal system, depth is more important than surface area, and there’s plenty of earth to dig into. If space is too limited up top, the pipes can be buried vertically, which frees up the required horizontal real estate even more.
How much piping is needed depends on the size of the house. Much like an air conditioning unit, the geothermal system must be sized correctly to ensure that it will do a sufficient job heating and cooling the space inside the home.
Either way, there’s plenty of room to spread out below the earth’s surface. So, you don’t need acres of land to install geothermal. It’s really a very compact process overall.
Geothermal heating doesn’t work in cold climates
This is not true, whether we’re talking about a ground-source or air-source heat pump. Ground-source heat pumps have no trouble at all generating heat in cold climates. This is because the ground just about 10 feet below the surface is surprisingly temperate all year round, all around the world.
The temperature of the earth at this depth is 55 degrees constantly, and this is what ground-source looping pipes tap into for collecting heat energy. The heat-conducting liquid in the pipes can make use of this natural heat source and the heat pump can make it warmer as needed in the home.
Air-source heat pumps do have their work cut out for them in colder climates, but they are still capable of generating heat and warming the home. Ground-source heat pumps are more efficient, but both options can work quite well even in cold climates.
Only wealthy people can afford geothermal
This is a myth for two big reasons. First of all, the cost of geothermal technology is reducing significantly as new improvements are made. What was once a more complex process has been simplified and distilled to elements that make it more trim and efficient.
Dandelion is proud to be leading the way in making geothermal more accessible and less expensive for homeowners.
Second, there are ways to reduce the initial cost of installing a geothermal system, such as taking advantage of federal and state incentives.
The federal government is still offering a 30 percent tax credit to homeowners who install geothermal in 2019. This percentage will reduce to 26 percent in 2020, and 22 percent in 2021, before it expires.
New York State also has a rebate program for $1500 per cooling ton capacity for homeowners who install ground-source geothermal heat pumps.
Both of these incentive programs can help anyone have geothermal installed while reducing the cost even more. Over the long term, the payback for installing geothermal to heat and cool your home pays dividends over the rising and uncontrollable rates for gas and coal.
Geothermal systems require a lot of maintenance
Let us put your mind at ease about this last one. Since the different parts of the system are either underground or inside your home, they’re well protected from the elements. There is little to do once a geothermal system is installed.
Routine maintenance such as replacing the air filter in your home, checking on fluid levels, and making sure there are no blockages can be performed by an HVAC technician periodically. But overall, there aren’t that many moving parts to keep on track with home geothermal.
Read more about exactly how geothermal heating and cooling works here.