An Overview of Geothermal Home Heating Systems

There are many things to consider when choosing a system to heat and cool your home. At such a high price point, it’s one of the biggest and longest-lasting investments you’ll make as a homeowner.

Geothermal home heating is one option that may be more accessible than you think. Here’s what you need to know about this energy-efficient option.


It’s not just for heating

A geothermal heat pump, or GHP, acts as a dual HVAC system that can heat and cool your home. A geothermal system will work just as well in the warm months as it does during the bitter cold. How? It moves fluid that conducts varying temperatures through pipes buried near or under your home. As the fluid collects thermal energy deposited by the sun into the earth, it circulates the heat back into your home through your duct system.

To cool your home, the system works in reverse, taking heat from the air and transferring it into fluid that moves into and through buried pipes in the ground. Since the ground is typically cooler than the air, the heat dissipates into the earth and returns cool, circulated air back into your home.

Because the earth maintains a relatively steady underground temperature of between 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit, geothermal heating systems work in virtually any climate.

Geothermal pumps are a smart long-term investment

While a geothermal heating system has a higher upfront cost, it is designed to last for decades. On average, indoor components last 25 years, while the outdoor ground loops can last as much as twice that long. And because they are so much more efficient than traditional HVAC units (by up to 65%), geothermal systems pay for themselves over time in the form of lower heating and cooling bills. Another bonus--because of their high efficiency, they help reduce carbon emissions.

Pros and cons for geothermal home heating

While the long-range financial benefits of geothermal heating are compelling, you’ll want to carefully weigh all of the advantages and disadvantages to make the best decision for your household.

Advantages of a geothermal system

Because of its high energy efficiency and propensity to last well past the lifespan of a traditional HVAC system, a geothermal system may also add to the equity of your home. It can also create curb appeal since it doesn’t require the eyesore of equipment outside your home. And unlike HVAC equipment that sits outside and is exposed to the elements, your geothermal system may require less maintenance over time since it’s well-protected by the earth around it.

When you add it all up, geothermal energy is an efficient, Earth-friendly way to take advantage of a renewable energy source right at your fingertips (or feet, in this case). But there are a few disadvantages you should consider before you decide to go geothermal or not.

Disadvantages of a geothermal system

Even though geothermal units are energy-efficient, be aware that they still require some electricity to operate, although it is much less than for traditional HVAC. They also require digging to install the underground pipe network, which may disturb existing landscaping. Lastly, be aware that the energy incentives you may receive from a geothermal unit won’t last forever. Tax credits will diminish each year until they disappear entirely.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a geothermal heating system, start by consulting a professional to determine if geothermal is right for you. Make sure your system is designed and installed by a company with experience in geothermal systems to ensure the highest level of energy efficiency and that your system will work properly for years to come.