Geothermal Heating Installation Cost
How much does it cost to install a geothermal heating system?
According to the United States Department of Energy the average cost of a geothermal heat pump system is $2,500 per ton. The agency goes on to say that the average residential property is going to require a unit of three tons to supply their needs. This translates to a $7,500 cost for the system.
This same agency also states that "because of the technical knowledge and equipment needed to properly install the piping, a GHP system installation is not a do-it-yourself project. To find a qualified installer, call your local utility company, the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association or the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium for their listing of qualified installers in your area." They don't emphasize the need to get a few estimates, however, and this is really essential in being sure that the ideal system and most reasonable pricing are found.
It is also important to discuss potential tax benefits with a geothermal contractor since the heat pumps with Energy Star ratings qualify for a maximum $2,000 credit, but the homeowner may need some documentation or assistance from their contractor in order to claim the tax break. (Remember too that many local utility providers give their customers a rebate for the installation of geothermal systems as well.)
The geothermal professional is going to visit the home site and assess the land to ensure that it will sustain a geothermal system properly. Additionally, it is the professional who will dictate the best type of system for the home too.
The modern system will include a ground heat exchanger that is either a closed or open loop variety (with the closed loop the most common). For the purpose of this discussion we will look at the materials and costs associated with the installation of a closed loop geothermal heating system in a residential property.
In addition to the ground heat exchanger, the project will also need:
- Air delivery duct work;
- An air handler (which houses an indoor coil, a large blower and a filter); and
- A heat pump.
There is also the need for the high density polyethylene pipes filled with environmentally friendly antifreeze/water which will attach to the heat exchanger, and which will actually do the most work in the system. These pipes are going to need to be professionally mounted horizontally or vertically, where they will carry heat from the home in the warm weather, and carry it into the home in the cooler season.
The pricing quoted does not take into consideration much of the site preparation, or special conditions in which excavation is difficult and heavily restricted. For example, a vertically designed system might need holes of 150 to 250 feet in depth, and any difficulties will add time and expense. Most systems will take only three full days to complete.
Additional considerations and costs
- Many homeowners will also consider the addition of a "desuperheater" which works to supply all domestic hot water needs as well as heating and cooling. Such an option can usually increase costs by a few thousand dollars; and
- Homeowners must also understand that if a geothermal system is a retrofit or installation into a pre-existing home the costs associated with the duct work can be quite high. For example, should the system of duct work have leaks, gaps, cracks or disconnections (which is common with older systems) the efficiency of the heating or cooling will decrease by 25-40% of its performance capabilities. Additionally, filling old ducts and running new ones can cost between $2,500 and $10,000 (according to InspectionNews.net)