A lot about the future of our energy in Ontario spells uncertainty and instability. Current resource strain indicates increasing, not decreasing, energy disturbances and mounting climate change extremes are revealing the inefficiencies in our utility networks.
With that in mind, as a homeowner, you want the certainty your home will still be warm throughout the winter 10, 20 — even 50 years from now.
Geothermal presents a stable, highly sustainable, and financially attractive alternative to continuing to heat your home with natural gas, propane, or oil. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should consider switching your household to geothermal heating if you’re in Ontario.
Own Your Energy
Greener Homes Initiative
1. Own your energy
A Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) harnesses the stable below-ground temperatures of the earth in your backyard heat and cool your home. A network of ground loops connected to the GSHP transport heat to and from the home, delivering reliable, continuous heat through the winter and cooling the indoor air during the summer.
The heat pump is powered by electricity, but the energy source is the ground. That means you’re not relying on any fossil fuels to provide heating. By installing a geothermal system, you can access a sustainable, reliable, and renewable source of energy that’s entirely yours. That energy doesn’t leave your property, and you don’t have to rely on anyone to deliver it to you.
This is going to become an increasingly critical factor as global energy networks further decentralize. Resource scarcity will become an even more pressing problem for homeowners as supplies of fossil fuels shrink and demand increases.
Relying on fossil fuels for home heating will continue to generate an increasing financial burden, but it’s also going to start becoming impractical.
We’re already seeing the effects of resource insecurity, whether driven by climate change or politics. The potential shutdown of the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline is a current example of disruptions casting a shadow on Ontario energy; the pipeline provides almost half of Ontario and Quebec’s fuel supply.
A geothermal heating system means energy independence. It means you’ll never have to worry about the supply of oil, gas or propane to keep your home warm.
2. Carbon Pricing
Carbon pricing was introduced to create an additional cost for fossil fuels to gradually disincentivize their use and so their price can reflect their environmental cost.
In 2019, the minimum federal price for consumers started at $20 per tonne of CO2 equivalent. As of April 2021, it’s $40 – reaching $50 in 2022 and then increasing annually until carbon pricing sits at $170 per tonne in 2030.
Ontario consumers are currently paying through federal taxes because, among other provinces, Ontario has no provincial carbon pricing system. Any provincial carbon policies must meet or exceed federal standards.
Provinces are gradually developing their own systems to further regulate and solidify its presence. Even if Ontario doesn’t develop a plan of its own, it will be subject to the ambitious federal targets which project that $170 per tonne cost in less than a decade. Carbon pricing isn’t going anywhere.
Geothermal heating would provide a huge carbon offset for homeowners, allowing them to cash in on the carbon pricing rebate – while also not paying the premium attached to fossil fuels as reserves deplete and demand grows.
Geothermal heating protects homeowners from:
Annually increased carbon pricing
Escalating base cost of fossil fuels
Turbulent costs associated with indirect investment in renewables
There’s a huge financial incentive behind geothermal heating, especially as the Greener Homes grant program comes into play. The next decade will bring significant change as countries and industries rethink climate response. Geothermal for your home is a great place to invest your money while waiting for new policies to settle.
In the meantime, you get more control over your utilities, unlimited low-cost heating and cooling, and stay protected from the volatility of the energy markets and policy.
Geothermal heating is a long-lasting renewable energy system. The Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) can heat the home at up to 500% efficiency. This means it requires a fractional amount of electricity to run in comparison to its capacity to heat and cool.
For every 1 unit of electrical energy it consumes, a GSHP transports up to 5 units of thermal energy into the home.
The electricity used to power a GSHP can also be offset by the integration of a solar PV system. It’s emissions-free and doesn’t depend on any fossil fuels like coal, oil, gas, or propane to operate. This makes it one of the best ways to reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
With a well-designed and maintained system, a GSHP can last up to 30 years – and the buried ground loops which transport the thermal energy between the home and ground can last over 100 years, giving it even more of a leg up over domestic renewable energy systems.
Reduced carbon footprint
0 combustion heating
100% renewable energy
No fossil fuel
Most Ontario homes still burn natural gas, oil, or propane for heating, emitting CO2, nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide, and other by-products. In Canada, buildings (including homes) are the third-largest producers of greenhouse gases – 90% of these emissions come from heating, cooling, and hot water systems.
This means switching homes to geothermal heating could dramatically reduce Canada’s carbon footprint.
Because a GSHP doesn’t rely on combustion, a geothermal heating system doesn’t dry out the air in your home like a traditional furnace during the winter. A furnace heats air at a high temperature, reducing humidity. In the winter, our air is typically drier anyways, so a furnace exaggerates that effect. With a GSHP and proper ventilation, you can achieve stable humidity throughout your home.
While a furnace will cycle on and off more frequently, a GSHP benefits the home with longer run cycles, preventing a temperature rollercoaster, and operating far more efficiently. This allows for more accurate temperature control throughout the home.
Geothermal heating offers advanced temperature control, improved air quality , and stable humidity
Geothermal heating is also extremely resilient to temperature extremes. This is an important focus as we start preparing our energy systems for the implications of climate change – especially in Ontario where the temperatures are already so extreme between the seasons.
Geothermal reliably delivers heating and cooling at any time of year, in any temperatures. Where traditional systems like air conditioners might struggle to cool a home when it’s +40 degrees outside, the GSHP has no problem.
This is because geothermal heating uses the stable temperature of the ground as a heat source and heat sink. About 6ft below-ground, the temperature remains approximately 10-15°C degrees all year, regardless of whether there’s a heatwave or snowstorm happening up above.
This means geothermal is a highly dependable option for delivering comfortable, limitless heating and cooling year-round – even as looming extreme weather conditions become a more regular reality.
5. Greener Homes Grant
The Greener Homes Program is a government-funded initiative launched in 2021 that offers homeowners across Canada up to $5,000 in grant money for energy efficiency retrofits, purchases or installations.
This tax-free grant money can be put towards purchasing a GSHP or, the grant money could fund efficiency upgrades to your home like replacing windows or improving insulation levels. Any of these changes improve your home’s ability to maintain set temperature more efficiently, whether that’s staying cool or holding heat.
By making these upgrades, you can potentially reduce the upfront cost of your geothermal heating system. The more efficient the home, the smaller the system required to heat it. Lower capacity heat pump systems cost less upfront and use less electricity.
Thinking of switching to Geothermal heating?
It’s becoming clearer with each year of climate instability, rising resource demand, and fossil fuel costs, that geothermal is becoming the most viable domestic heating option for homes in Ontario.
To learn more about whether geothermal could be a good fit, check out our previous blog post, Home Geothermal: Pros and Cons.