5 Myths About Geothermal Cooling and Heating

When it comes to heating and cooling your home, there are two main issues people worry about. How much is it going to cost them, and what kind of carbon footprint does it have? Using geothermal energy to heat your home is excellent for both. However, there still seems to be a lot of misinformation out there. That’s why we wanted to debunk the five most common myths about geothermal cooling and heating systems.

First, let’s have a quick rundown on how geothermal systems can be used to heat your home. One of the main components is the heat pump. The pump concentrates heat from water that is recirculated by pipes buried in the ground. After heat is concentrated and extracted in the pump, the water gets returned outside to be reheated in the “loop”.

The 5 myths about geothermal cooling and heating that people always get wrong

1. It takes up a lot of space and I won’t be able to fit it in my existing home

The land that surrounds every home is different. Thankfully, several different types of ground loops work better with various terrains. It only takes around three days for the installation of the ground loops. Most of the system is actually below ground, meaning that it will take up very little space on the surface.

Unfortunately, not all systems are suited for every single house on the market. To find out what heating solution is the best, you might want to do some research, especially if you plan to move into a new home and make it completely eco-friendly from the ground up. Inspecting your new home is a wise decision that will help you find out what the area is like. Once you know what you are dealing with, it will be easy to choose the best fit for your home. Installing a geothermal system will also be smoother if you aren’t living on the property while it is being installed.

A cat resting on a radiator.
It is possible to retrofit GSHP to your existing installations.

That being said, it is entirely possible to retrofit the system into existing homes. One option is using the current heat distribution system that was previously attached to a furnace or boiler. This is great for cutting down on the cost and the time needed to install.

Debunked: Geothermal systems use little above-ground space and can be fitted to existing homes.

2. Myth: Geothermal systems are very noisy

The systems run rather quietly. There is also no outdoor equipment that can bother you or anyone else for that matter. Most other traditional heating and cooling systems have outdoor elements. More often than not, it’s this outdoor equipment that produces noise. Due to how smoothly the heat pumps run, the loudest thing you can hear is gentle humming. In case of any other noises, you might want to consult a technician.

Debunked: Geothermal heating systems are quieter than most other HVAC systems.

3. Myth: They break down easily and have a low life expectancy

While nothing lasts forever, geothermal ground-sourced heat pump (GSHP) systems are remarkably resilient. They have very few mechanical components which are shielded from the elements. Unlike most traditional HVAC systems with exterior units, geothermal systems have most of their parts either underground or inside your home. Also, when compared to fossil fuel systems, a GSHP system isn’t exposed to extreme temperatures, making it even more durable. Since there are no combustibles or extreme temperatures, there is no risk of fire or explosion, making GSHPs the safer choice.

All of the above factors combined lead to very little need for maintenance and thus low upkeep costs. The life expectancy for indoor equipment is 25 to 30 years. Underground equipment requires no maintenance and lasts so long that it’s hard to give an accurate estimate. Most ground pumps will last more than 75 years.

Debunked: Geothermal heat pump systems last for a long time and rarely break down.

4. Myth: Geothermal heat systems use a lot of water

The water that gets pumped into the system is later extracted to be reheated. Since the water is circling the ground loop, there is practically no water usage. The water gets returned to the aquifer, and then the cycle of heat exchange with the earth starts again. There is no excess water that leaks or evaporates.

Another important point is that the output of geothermal systems is predictable and stable. You will know what to expect, and there will be minimal variation in output. Unlike most other eco-friendly solutions, the energy that GSHPs produce is independent of the weather. Wind turbines require certain minimum wind speeds, and solar panels (yup, you guessed it) need the sun to function. The only thing geothermal systems need is a bit of electricity for the heat pump. These are just some of the many advantages of geothermal systems over other traditional heating and cooling methods.

Wind turbine in a field with mountains in the background.
Wind turbines are weather-dependent.

On the other hand, if you use renewable sources for electricity, your home is heated and cooled in an environmentally friendly fashion. It’s funny how people can get caught up in believing wrong myths about geothermal cooling and heating when it’s the greenest solution out there. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called geothermal heat pumps “the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective systems”. That’s something to brag about!

Debunked: Geothermal heat pumps do not use water and are a clean source of energy.

5. Myth: Geothermal GSHP systems are expensive to install and use

Due to their low power usage, geothermal heating and cooling systems will pay themselves off after a few years. So, using the system is a low-cost way of heating your home that can save you money. The only possible gripe is the cost of installation. Thankfully, there are government incentives in place to help people overcome the costs of adopting environmentally friendly solutions.

Debunked: Multiple financing options exist to cover the cost of installation, while the use of GSHP is cheap and saves money.

Person standing barefoot on a hardwood floor thanks to geothermal heating and cooling system.
Radiant heating coming from the floor produces the ideal room temperature.

It is easy to have misconceptions regarding things you know very little about. Once you dive a little deeper into the subject of geothermal GSHPs, you will realize that the most common myths about geothermal cooling and heating that people have are easily debunked. GSHP systems are safe, easy to use, efficient, and environmentally friendly. What’s not to love?

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