The Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy

September 30, 2013
Ross and Witmer

When you’re considering a new HVAC system for your home, you might want to weigh the pros and cons of geothermal. These are the most energy efficient of all heat pumps since they use renewable energy stored underground as their source for heat in the winter and as the depository for heat during the summer.

The benefits a geothermal heat pump (GHP) provides include:

  • High efficiency conditioning. Because these systems use a loop field buried underground, they don’t have to deal with the extreme temperatures other HVAC systems do. It’s warmer underground in the winter and much cooler in the summer.
  • Durability.The underground loop field has a life expectancy of 50 years or more and the indoor air handler can reach 25 years, as long as you maintain it regularly.
  • Quiet. A GHP doesn’t require an outdoor condenser which eliminates the noise in your yard. The indoor air handler usually has a variable-speed motor that reduces interior noise.
  • Safety. GHPs don’t use any combustible fuels to generate heat, minimizing the risks associated with carbon monoxide and gas leaks.

While the pros and cons of geothermal weigh heavy on the side of the benefits, you’ll have to evaluate the cons, which include:

  • Installation cost. The cost of installation adds substantially to the cost of these systems and depends on the geology and hydrology of your yard.
  • Landscape disturbance. Digging the loop field requires heavy equipment that will disturb your landscaping, and possibly fencing or other elements in your yard. The least expensive installation is during new construction when few access barriers to yards present themselves.

A generous tax credit exists to help homeowners overcome the high installation costs associated with a GHP. Through the end of 2016, homeowners can deduct the full cost of a qualifying GHP and its installation to receive a 30 percent tax credit that has no upward cap.

To learn more about the pros and cons of geothermal, contact Ross & Witmer. We’ve provided trusted HVAC services to homeowners in the greater Charlotte area for three generations and look forward to answering your questions.

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