Geothermal heat pumps are an amazing way to heat, cool, and dehumidify your home. Unfortunately there are a lot of geothermal myths and disinformation floating around out there. Let’s cover the top bits of misinformation and why they’re junk.
Ridiculous Geothermal Myths
Let the mythbusting begin!
Geothermal Myth #1 – Geothermal heat pumps aren’t really renewable.
I have no idea why people believe this one, but it’s out there. Yes, geothermal heat pumps need electricity to function, but they also rely on geothermal heat. Which is why they have the name that they do. Their ability to tap this buried resource allows them to operate a lot more efficiently than brute force electric furnaces or even comparably sized air-source heat pumps. They’re definitely renewable, and all that buried heat is virtually unlimited.
Geothermal Myth #2 – If you don’t have a big yard, you can’t use a geothermal system.
This is just patently false. Yes, it’s true that horizontal installations are popular and require substantial real estate, but they’re hardly the only way to use geothermal. Vertical installations require very little surface area and pond or lake loops require virtually none.
Geothermal Myth #3 – The pumps are too noisy.
Any heating and air system improperly installed can be a pain. However, geothermal heat pumps can easily be the quietest HVAC system you’ve ever had. Geothermal units do not require an above exterior compressor. In case you don’t know that stereotypical ‘loud’ outside air conditioner is caused by the exterior condenser and compressor. You don’t have that with geothermal. You can install the pump components in an insulated utility closet and never even know when its running.
Geothermal Myth #4 – Geothermal doesn’t last.
A conventional air conditioner should last 15-20 years. Right now there are geothermal loops over 50 years old still operating at 100% efficiency. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, the above ground pump likely won’t last half a century, but it’s also the cheapest portion of the system to replace. Even with that caveat any decently made geothermal heat pump is going to last as long as the best air conditioner you can find.
Geothermal Myth #5 – Geothermal is too expensive.
This is the big myth that gets thrown around a lot. It’s true that geothermal heat pumps are not cheap systems. The groundwork required to get one up and running can be expensive. However, a geothermal heat pump only seems expensive, because most people haven’t done their math properly.
Too many people only think about the upfront cost of a new air conditioner or furnace. What they fail to account for is the monthly expense of operating that equipment. Yes, you can buy a cheap air conditioner that will keep you cool, but that inefficient system is going to cost you far more month-to-month than a geothermal heat pump. While you save up front with conventional A/C, you more than make up for that saving by paying out the nose to your utility company every single year.
Now, contrast that with a geothermal heat pump. The big costs on a geothermal system are upfront. You pay more to get the system running, but most homeowners see a big drop in their annual expenses. Most save enough in the first 5 to 10 years to pay off their installation costs.