Is Your Home Right for a Geothermal System

Is Your Home Right for Geothermal?

Learn if you should make the switch
Apr 1, 2021
Craftsmen combines geothermal pipes

Iceland uses geothermal energy to heat not only homes but also roads and sidewalks. The capital city, Reykjavik, has a heating system under the sidewalks and streets that melts snow in much of the city. Because Iceland is such a volcanically active place, geothermal energy is readily available, easy to use, and cheap.

A hot spring in the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa in Iceland with steam coming off of the hot water into the cold air

If you don’t live in Iceland, don’t worry. You can still use a geothermal HVAC system to heat and cool your home. These home geothermal systems have a lot of benefits over other types of HVAC systems. They’re more energy-efficient, using only the earth’s temperature and electricity to heat and cool a home. Plus, they can last a lot longer than other types of heating and cooling systems.

But is your home right for a geothermal HVAC system? If you’re considering installing a geothermal system, ask yourself the following questions:

Can My HOA Prohibit a Geothermal HVAC System?

Before you decide on a geothermal system for your home, it’s important to determine whether or not you’re allowed to have one. If you live in an area with an HOA, there may be prohibitions against certain types of heating and cooling systems, usually for aesthetic reasons. Your HOA may not have any restrictions on HVAC systems or it may allow geothermal if it does. You may need to get approval from the HOA before you put it in, depending on your HOA and its bylaws. The first step is to check the rules and make sure you’re allowed to install the system.

A contractor installs geothermal pipes in the ground

How Does a Geothermal HVAC System Work?

Geothermal equipment relies on the exchange of heat to cool and heat homes. It’s so efficient because this heat exchange happens underground with a loop field where the temperatures are stable year-round. Instead of operating in the summer at temperatures in the 90s and the humidity high, a geothermal heat pump (GHP) or air conditioner works in an environment that’s in the 60s.

Since air conditioning cools by removing heat, operating in a cooler environment makes a big difference in the amount of energy it takes to keep a home comfortable. The same principle applies to heating with a heat pump, only in reverse. During the winter, there’s always more heat in the ground to tap than in the air.

Is My Yard Right for a Geothermal HVAC System?

Once you know you’re allowed to install a geothermal system, it’s important to make sure that your yard is right for installing one. First, there are space considerations. Geothermal equipment will need to be installed underground in order to work. Therefore, there needs to be adequate access in your yard so that the contractors can install the system. The larger your yard, the easier it will be to install the system.

Is the Soil in My Yard Right for a Geothermal HVAC System?

Your yard will also need to have the right soil, geology, and hydrology to install a geothermal system. Drilling is necessary in order to install the system and if the ground in your yard is soft and flat, then your home may be a better fit for a geothermal system than if the ground is hard and hilly.

Can I Landscape Where the Geothermal System Is Buried?

You can still landscape your yard where a geothermal HVAC system is installed. You’ll just need to be careful to plant smaller bushes and flowers over the pipes. Trees that would grow to have large roots are not a good idea because they could eventually interfere with the functioning of the pipes.

If you have landscaping or a pool already installed in your yard, a contractor may be able to work around it and restore it to its original state after the geothermal system is put in.