Geothermal heating systems are becoming more popular as they offer homeowners the benefits of high efficiency, low energy bills and virtually endless hot water. The technology is not new however; it has been around since the 1930s when a geothermal heat pump was invented in New Zealand. It was only relatively recently that the cost of installing these units became affordable enough for many homeowners.
It’s true that there are some drawbacks to this type of system, such as potential drilling holes into your property or the need to have an electrical connection installed for the system. However, if you want to know how to buy a geothermal heating system, you’ll find out below what to look for when shopping for one.
First off, let’s talk about the different types of geothermal systems available. There are two main options, depending on where you live: ground source (also known as sub-surface) or shallow well.
Ground Source Units:
Ground source geothermal heat pumps work by using a hole drilled in the ground through which steam can escape. The steam then flows up from the base of the unit and transfers the heat to either air or liquid which circulates within the heat pump itself. This type of system is best suited to those living in colder climates where the temperatures are cooler than average. Ground sources tend to be less expensive, but they do require a lot of maintenance – typically once every 2 years. Depending on where you live, you may need to drill multiple holes in order to achieve adequate circulation.
Shallow Well Systems:
Shallow wells also use the same principle as ground source heat pumps but instead of having a hole drilled through the earth, they use a shallow well that penetrates just a few feet into the ground. These are great for areas with warmer weather because the temperature of the ground is still much cooler than the air. In fact, some units even come with a built-in fan that keeps the interior of the home cool during the summer months. Shallow well systems are more costly than ground source heat pumps because of the cost of installation, but they usually last longer due to their lower maintenance needs.
Now that we’ve talked about both types of geothermal heat pumps, here are some other things to consider when looking at purchasing a specific model.
You will probably spend somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000 on a geothermal unit. That being said, the price could range anywhere from $1,500 to $7,000 depending on whether you go with a shallow well or a ground source unit. There are also additional costs associated with getting your geothermal unit installed. If you choose to hire someone to install your unit, expect to pay anywhere from $1,800 to $3,000.
When buying a geothermal heating system, remember that you will need to get several permits before the process can begin. Typically, you will need to apply for building permits, soil permit, water supply permit, septic tank permit, gas line permit, electric utility permit, local road permit, and finally, any state or local environmental regulations regarding geothermal wells.
Depending on where you live, you may also need approval from the local health department. You should make sure to ask about all required permits before starting the project.
Location is crucial when it comes to geothermal units. If you’re lucky, your property will already have access to a well so you don’t have to dig anything into the earth. However, if you don’t have access to a well, you may need to install your own well. In most cases, this means you’ll need to build a small foundation and drill a hole down to the aquifer. If possible, try to locate your house near a natural spring or creek so you can tap into the groundwater.
When thinking about location, think about where your home is located relative to the sun. For example, if you live in a place like Phoenix, Arizona, you might want to avoid a unit that relies on solar power. On the other hand, if you live in Seattle, you might prefer a unit that uses solar power because it will save you money over time.
If you want to learn more about geothermal systems and what they can do for your home, check out our article detailing the benefits of geothermal heat pumps.
Finally, be sure to check with your local government to see if they offer tax credits or rebates for installing a geothermal system.
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