So, What are the disadvantages of geothermal energy? Geothermal heat pumps, also known as Ground Source Heat Pumps, are a type of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system that utilizes the constant temperature of the earth to provide Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water for Ontario homes and buildings. These systems have been gaining popularity in Ontario in recent years due to their energy efficiency and environmental benefits, but as with any technology, there are both pros and cons to consider. In this blog post we’ll go through a list of Pro’s and Cons but also answer the larger question of What’s the biggest problem with Geothermal Energy?
What are the Pro’s of Ground Source Heat Pumps
One of the main benefits of geothermal heat pumps is their energy efficiency. GSHP systems use the natural heat of the earth to provide heating and cooling, rather than relying on fossil fuels. Geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption by up to 70% compared to traditional HVAC systems. This results in lower energy bills for homeowners and reduces the demand for fossil fuels and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
How Long do Geothermal Heat Pumps Last?
Another advantage of geothermal heat pumps is their long lifespan. The Geothermal Ground Loop portion of the systems can last for more than 75 years. The GSHP, tucked away in your basement can typically last 25-30 years or more. This means that geothermal heat pumps can provide long-term cost savings, as they do not need to be replaced as often. It is important to compare this system longevity to other options like Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps which are regularly to put to the test in extreme outdoor conditions. ASHP systems will degrade in performance over time, and will typically last about 10-15 years.
Geothermal heat pumps are also very quiet and require minimal maintenance. Unlike traditional HVAC systems, which rely on outdoor units that can be noisy and require regular maintenance, geothermal heat pumps have all of their components located indoors, which makes them much quieter and easier to maintain.
What Are The Environmental Benefits of Geothermal?
In addition to their energy efficiency and long lifespan, geothermal heat pumps also have a number of environmental benefits. As mentioned, they rely on the natural heat of the earth rather than fossil fuels, which means they produce significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, geothermal heat pumps are the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective systems for heating and cooling buildings.
What are the disadvantages of Geothermal Heating and Cooling?
Despite these benefits, there are also some drawbacks to geothermal heat pumps to consider. One of the main limitations is the upfront cost of installation. These systems can be expensive to install, with costs ranging from $25,000 to $35,000 or more, depending on the size of the system and the complexity of the installation. Exact cost of installation will vary for each home, and you can find out budget considerations for your home by contacting us. While the long lifespan and energy savings of geothermal heat pumps can offset these upfront costs over time, it can be a significant financial burden for some homeowners. The Canada Greener Homes Program currently offers rebates up to $6500 and 0% Interest loans of up to $40,000 that can offset or completely cover the cost of your new geothermal system.
How Much Land Do I Need for Geothermal?
Another potential limitation is the need for a suitable site. Geothermal heat pumps using horizontally trenched ground loops require a large area of land. For this reason, horizontal systems are best suited to rural applications. This can be a problem for homeowners in urban areas with small yards or limited land. There is a solution in this case – Vertical! In smaller lot applications geothermal loops can be drilled vertically to save space. This means there are very few properties that cannot fit a geothermal ground loop. The deciding factor will more typically be economics/cost of the ground loop that must be used.
Do Geothermal Heat Pumps Work in Cold Climates?
Geothermal heat pumps are ideal for colder climates because they use the ground as a source for heating. The temperate ground creates extreme efficiency even when it’s extremely cold outdoors. The underground loops that make up the system are buried below the frost line, which means that they are always at a constant temperature that is warmer than the air above ground. This constant temperature allows the heat pump to extract heat from the ground and transfer it into the home, even on the coldest winter days.This means that the heat pump does not have to work as hard to extract heat from the ground, which results in lower energy consumption and lower energy bills. Overall, the use of ground as a source of heat makes geothermal heat pumps an ideal choice for colder climates.
What’s the biggest problem with Geothermal Energy?
So, What is the biggest problem with Geothermal Energy for your home? The biggest problem is when homeowners realize every extra dollar they spend on Heating, Cooling and Hot Water with their existing fossil fuel system today, is a dollar they could be using to invest in their own personal Geothermal Energy Source (Ground Loop) in their backyard, they immediately want to get away from their fossil fuel system as quickly as possible. Often homeowners don’t come to this realization until it’s just about heating season start, and they have to fill up their oil or propane tanks again. Unfortunately, this is when HVAC installation contractors are the busiest. So, our message to homeowners is to plan early in the season! Get those loops installed in the Spring or Summer for best results! Qualify your home today to get started now!
In summary, geothermal heat pumps offer a number of benefits to Ontario homeowners, including energy efficiency, long lifespan, quiet operation, and environmental benefits. However, there are also some limitations to consider, including the upfront cost of installation and the need for a suitable site. As with any major home improvement project, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons before deciding if a geothermal heat pump is the right choice for your home.
As always contact Evolved Thermal Energy first to help you decide on a Heat Pump system for your home. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of all types of systems, including how Ground Source compares with Air Source Heat Pumps. We’ll make recommendations based your home, and provide some budgetary guidance. We’ll also introduce you to a contractor from our network! If you’d like to checkout some of our other helpful ideas, read our blog posts! Evolved Thermal Energy is IGSHPA (International Ground Source Heat Pump Association) certified, and HRAI (Heating, Refrigeration, Air Conditioning Institute of Canada) certified! If your talking to a designer or installer about Geothermal Heating and Cooling, ask them if they carry these certifications – if they don’t, ask why not!