June 18, 2015

Instead of using natural gas or oil and as an alternative to incurring high electricity bills, geothermal energy works to draw off the Earth’s constant core temperature to both heat and cool the home. At first, glance, incorporating geothermal energy into a house or business would seem like a no-brainer and while there are definite cost and economic savings involved with the process, all that glitters isn’t gold. Here are the definitive geothermal energy pros and cons:

Pros
  • Environmentally friendly compared to gas or oil furnaces (no combustion).
  • Not a significant source of pollution.
  • Not a significant source of pollution.
  • Geothermal energy is a renewable resource as long as the Earth exists.
  • Suitable for the smallest of houses to the largest commercial spaces.
  • No cost fluctuations determined by gas and oil prices.
  • 30%-60% savings on heating and 25%-50% savings on cooling.
  • Moving heat that already exists as opposed to making new heat.
  • Mostly underground for a minimal landscape footprint.
  • Not weather dependent like solar or wind power; geothermal heat pumps work year-round.
  • Heating systems won’t dangerously turn off when out of gas or oil like standard furnaces.
  • Installation is eligible for tax cuts.
  • Quieter operation because of no outdoor compressor or fan.
  • Long lifespan (25 years for indoor components, 50+ for underground loop system).
  • Fewer moving parts mean minimal maintenance issues.
  • Smallest carbon footprint of any heating or cooling source.
  • Technology behind geothermal energy will only continue to improve inefficiency.
  • Provides either baseload or peak power energy output.
  • Cons
  • High upfront costs with implementing geothermal energy. ($10,000-$20,000)
  • More suitable for new home builds as retrofitting involves large scale excavation.
  • Electricity is still needed to operate heat pumps.
  • Geothermal energy using wells requires an incredible usage of water.
  • Discharge into the Earth could include sulfur dioxide and silica (well pumps).
  • Fewer installers than standard HVAC and thus less competition.
  • Large scale geothermal power plants are dangerous to the Earth’s surface and location-centric.
  • Damage to underground loops (tree roots, rodents, etc.) can be difficult and costly to repair.
  • All-in-all, there are plenty of benefits as well as some downfalls of integrating geothermal energy into your commercial or residential property. It’s highly unlikely that geothermal energy will become irrelevant or impossible. It will remain as a nice implementation if it fits your landscape, location, and budget.

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