Geothermal heating is the process of using the earth as a heat source or a heat sink. Specifically, it obtains heat from the earth to warm homes and other buildings during winter. In the summer, the system deposits heat into the earth to make domestic and commercial structures cooler. Geothermal heating usually uses a special pump to accomplish these tasks, and it’s often paired with solar heating to create a more efficient system.
Like any other heating and cooling system, geothermal heating comes with both pros and cons. Some of them are listed below:
List of Advantages of Geothermal Heating
1. It helps lower electricity bills.
Most geothermal heating systems can meet 60 to 80 percent of a building’s overall demand for electricity (the remaining 20 to 40 percent is provided by another source, such as propane or mains electricity). The amount of electricity that geothermal systems can generate is enough to lower utility bills and help homeowners and tenants save a substantial amount of money.
2. It harnesses renewable energy.
Geothermal heating uses the energy generated by the earth, which is considered to be renewable since it’s always present as long as the earth is still standing. This makes geothermal heating a more environmentally option compared to other forms of heating and cooling systems, particularly true for those that use coal, gasoline, and other fossil fuels.
3. It can last for years.
As long as a geothermal heating system is properly designed and built, it has the potential to last up to 50 years. This makes it a sound investment, especially for those who are planning to live in their home for a long time.
List of Disadvantages of Geothermal Heating
1. It requires electricity to function.
Even if a geothermal heating system meets most of a building’s energy demands, some of these demands are met through other means, such as electricity that’s produced through fossil fuels plants. These plants are only 30 percent efficient, which means the energy they produce can cancel out the environmental gains that geothermal heating provides.
2. It can be costly.
A geothermal heating system requires a specialized pump as well as other equipment. It must also be installed by fully trained and certified geothermal heating experts who know how to properly set up the system. All of these can result to high initial costs, which are between $5,000 to $20,000 for domestic systems — an amount that not all homeowners can afford. The only consolation to this is that the high upfront cost can be offset over time through substantial savings on utility bills as well as the fact that the system can stay functional for decades.
3. It can affect water tables.
A type of geothermal heating system called ground loop system requires water to be pumped out of the ground to maintain the right temperature and ensure the heat pump doesn’t freeze. Unfortunately, this can lower the water table in the area over time and makes it difficult to obtain fresh, potable water.
Geothermal heating comes with a wide range of benefits, but the disadvantages must also be considered to minimize the damage that they bring.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.