April 5, 2023
How Much Does a Geothermal Installation Cost?
If you’re thinking about the future of heating and cooling in your home, then you might be considering a geothermal system as an option. This kind of system holds lots of appeal to homeowners who want to reduce their environmental footprint and save money at the same time. However, the cost of installation is a common concern because it’s very different than just buying a conventional HVAC unit to replace another conventional model. Geothermal systems might cut your heating costs in half and even reduce your cooling costs by one-third, but they have much higher installation costs. There are a number of factors that go into this.
What Will a Geothermal System Cost Me?
The average homeowner can expect a total geothermal installation to fall in a price range starting at $18,000 and going up to $30,000. Bigger homes with a high-end system might need to spend $30,000 up to $45,000. Your home size, your location, and your current ductwork all factor into the price equation. So does your available land, the kinds of soils present, and your local climate usability.
Fortunately, prices for geothermal systems are trending downward over time. Annual growth for geothermal heating and cooling systems is usually 10% or higher. Growing demand has accelerated the production of the necessary equipment and technology, and there are more qualified and experienced installers than in previous years. This has all led to increasingly competitive pricing for consumers just due to market forces. Depending on where you live, there might be local or state incentives. The federal government has had geothermal tax incentives in the past, and they might do so again in the future.
Factors That Impact the Cost of Your Geothermal Installation
Geothermal installations can be worth the money. Given that, multiple factors influence their cost. Knowing them can help you understand the quotes you get if you go shopping for one.
The first thing you need to understand is the size and capacity of a system. Bigger sizes mean higher costs. Residential units might range from 2 tons and 24,000 BTU up to 10 tons and 120,000 BTU. Most residential homes need a unit that falls in a range of 2.5 to 5 tons.
A second factor is the kind of loop you get. Geothermal systems can be vertical or horizontal in nature. Horizontal loop systems usually prove to be a more cost-effective choice as compared to vertical systems, but you would need enough space for the horizontal loops to be installed.
You also need to choose the kind of system you have installed. Common options include water to air, water to water, and split water to air. Each one of these choices has its own set of cost implications.
System efficiency can be highly variable. If you shop around various geothermal systems, you’ll likely find EER numbers ranging from 15 to 30. What you should know is that higher EER numbers indicate more efficient systems.
Specific features that you might want can also drive up the price. While you might be looking for geothermal heating and cooling, you might discover that you can also add hot water production, monitoring, and even Wi-Fi controls.
The Pros of Geothermal Installations
Geothermal installations need to be worth the investment that you put into them if they’re going to pay off for you. Fortunately, there are quite a few potential benefits you should keep your eyes open for.
To start with, they’re incredibly eco-friendly. Air-sourced heat pumps might have an EER as high as 17, and a ductless heat pump might hit 20 EER. Some geothermal systems can get as high as 40 or more. The less energy they use, the less environmental footprint your home has. You’ll also save a lot on your monthly utility bills.
The higher energy efficiency happens because geothermal systems are only partially reliant on fossil fuel-generated electricity instead of fully. Most systems only need electricity from a local utility company to run the pump and fan equipment responsible for circulation. The heating and cooling happen because most ground temperatures are constantly in a range of 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. You might even reduce or eliminate your need for utility-company electricity by adding photovoltaic solar energy.
If you are turning to a geothermal system for heating and cooling to replace an older conventional layout, then you might be able to keep your current ductwork and just connect it. Many baseboard or in-floor systems can also work. You might even get to hook up your plumbing and use the system to generate domestic hot water.
Wireless connectivity gives you a chance to monitor and even control your system via an app on your smartphone. You can do this from the peace and quiet of your own home because many geothermal heating and cooling systems run 20 to 30 decibels quieter than air-sourced heat pumps.
Finally, this is an investment that pays off over time. The equipment attached to your system should last over two decades with proper maintenance. The loop system itself can last four to six decades.
The Cons of Geothermal Installations
While geothermal installations have plenty of benefits in many situations, they do have some possible drawbacks that you should be aware of. The biggest one is the upfront cost, of course. Geothermal system installation costs are considerably more competitive than they were a decade ago, but they still cost quite a bit more than conventional HVAC choices.
There’s also the potential for repair costs. Loop damage that results in a leak is a rare event. However, shifting ground, tree roots, and frost can all make it happen. Finding any leak is hard to do, and repairs can be expensive.
You also need to vet your installers. The growth in the industry has brought many new installers to market, but not all of them have the experience level that you might be looking for. Look into their certifications and training when getting quotes.
Is a Geothermal System Right for You?
If you want to reduce the carbon emissions that your home generates, then a ground-sourced heat pump or geothermal heating and cooling system is probably a good fit for your property and lifestyle. If you can add solar power to it, then that’s even better.
Do you like saving money? If so, then a geothermal system can be a wonderful investment that pays off over time. The only catch is that you should plan on staying at your current home for decades to make the most of this option. You can lower installation costs, however, if you have a lot of available land for the loops and just reuse existing ductwork.
Discover the Right Professionals
A geothermal heating and cooling system taps into the power of the very planet beneath you to help heat and cool your home if you have the right system installed. However, you also need to choose the right professionals to do the installation right for you. Otherwise, the system might never work to its fullest potential. Count on our professionals Scott-Lee Heating Company for your heating and cooling needs in St. Louis and the surrounding communities. We also handle ductless mini-splits, air quality, zoning systems, geothermal contracting, and metalwork. Contact us at Scott-Lee Heating Company for any of these services.