One of the biggest costs to home ownership is the energy cost associated with owning a home. It’s not written anywhere in the mortgage agreements, and generally, the sellers will probably low ball you if you ask for an estimate. According to the Department of Energy, the biggest draw on your home energy use comes from heating your home - Almost 45% of the overall cost!
When thinking of ways to reduce the overall cost of home energy consumption, it makes the most sense to tackle the heating and cooling costs. It makes up the biggest chunk of the pie, and there are great options available for reducing it. From insulating your home, replacing windows, even completely upgrading your heating system to something more efficient, the options are endless….
Including A Free Option
Heating may take up about 45% of your utility bill, but luckily, there is more than enough heat to supply your home, sitting right beneath your feet. Even better, there is a way to extract that heat from the warm earth and use it to heat your home. The heat found in the earth beneath your home is completely free, completely reliable, it will never run out and it takes no harmful natural gas or oil to extract it. The heat is there, you just need a system to pump it out.
Geothermal heat pumps are one of the most efficient ways to heat and cool your home. This is because a heat pump, unlike other heating systems, doesn’t create any heat. It simply moves heat from the ground, into your home, using a refrigeration circuit and a collector system buried in the ground. When comparing geothermal heat to typical electric baseboards, they are 70% more efficient. Where an electric baseboard uses one watt of electricity to produce one watt of energy, a geothermal heat pump uses one watt of energy to move three watts of heat from the ground into your home. Imagine cutting your heating bill down by 70%!
Now, heat pumps don’t come without their initial cost. A collector system must be put into the ground to absorb the heat. There are several configurations of collector system available depending on what type of soil, landscape, and equipment is available in the local area. The collector system costs money, how much depends on many factors.
In Canada, the average for the entire, complete system is between $24,464 and $31,544 for a 2000 square foot house. While this may seem like a big initial investment, the cost is easily paid back by the 70% energy bill savings. There are also government grants that can be accessed to reduce the financial burden. A typical heat pump will last 30 years, and the collector system will last 50 years, so once the cost of the installation is recouped, you can look forward to many years of low cost heating and cooling.
Facts and Myths About Geothermal Heat Pumps
The geothermal heat pump market is rather small, and as such it has had it’s fair share of ups and downs when it comes to the progression of the technology. The is a lot of misinformation out there about the abilities of geothermal heat pumps, so let’s clear a few of those up:
Myth: Geothermal heat pumps cost upwards of $50,000 to install in a typical home.
Fact: While the cost for geothermal system vary from home to home, $50,000 for a typical home is outrageous. Talk to multiple reputable installers and get competitive quotes – installations should not be that expensive.
Myth: Geothermal heat pumps only work in rural areas where there is lots of land to put the collector system.
Fact: Much of Toronto’s downtown core is heated and cooled with geothermal. Due to advances in the technology of angled drilling, geothermal collector systems can be installed vertically in a very small land mass. Because the collector system has an expected lifespan of fifty years, they’re often installed under driveways, parking lots, or the buildings themselves.
Myth: Geothermal heat pumps don’t work. They degrade over time and they don’t save you that much money.
Fact: When geothermal heat pumps aren’t installed correctly, they don’t work correctly, causing higher than expected energy bills and poor performance. Always make sure to work with an experienced installer.
Myth: Geothermal heat pumps won’t work for my house/office/commercial building/school.
Fact: There are a few rare expections where geothermal isn’t economically or physically feasible. However due to the evolution of the technology over the past few decades, geothermal is being successfully and profitably employed in all of the above situations. Geothermal heat pumps are suitable for residential, commercial, retrofits, new builds, radiant in floor heat and forced air systems.
The fact of the matter is, geothermal heat pumps are a great way to save money on heating bills. They’re good for the environment because they make use of a naturally occurring heat source, and they help us reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. What’s not to like?
What sort of heating system is in your home?
Guest Post Author Bio: Jordann is a part time runner, yogi, local foodie and personal finance aficionado, and a full time marketing professional living and working in Atlantic Canada. She writes about her life at her blog, My Alternate Life.