With the rise of interest to “go green,” geothermal heating has entered the race as one of the best ways to heat your home and your appliances. Deciding between geothermal heating vs propane heating can be a tough choice.
With geothermal, there are talks of low energy costs through the utilization of the earth’s thermal energy. However, you don’t install a heating system just for financial reasons, you do it to keep you and your family warm during long, cold winter months.
And that’s just it, more comfortable heat and lower upfront installation costs of propane make it the best choice for most projects!
What is Geothermal Heating?
Geothermal heating is the direct use of geothermal energy for heating some applications. This energy originates from the heat retained within the earth.
Most high temperature geothermal heat is harvested in regions close to tectonic plate boundaries. Even cold ground contains heat, but may need to be extracted with the assistance of a heat pump or Ground-source heat pumps (GSHP).
A warmer source allows higher efficiency and, in contrast, colder sources does not provide that same high efficiency heat.
Geothermal systems use a ground loop – pipes buried a few feet underground – to help transfer the energy from the earth to warm a home in winter.
How Efficiency Works?
The efficiency rating, for any type of heating system, reveals how much of the energy consumed by the device is transferred into heat for the home.
For example, if you purchase a 90% efficient furnace, you can expect that 90% of the fuel used by the furnace is transformed into heat. The remaining 10% escapes through the flue during the combustion process.
Is Geothermal Viable?
Before choosing to go with geothermal, you must decide if a GSHP is feasible for the project. The system requires wells, or “loop fields,” to utilize the ground as a heat source.
Space constraints are a significant issue in existing properties and urban areas. Higher heating and cooling loads may require deeper wells, more wells, or more trenches in limited spaces.
By comparison, propane furnaces are easily installed in basements, attics, equipment closets and other locations.
Propane vs. Geothermal Comfort
Geothermal has a dirty little secret… it can’t deliver the same warm, comfortable heat as a modern propane furnace. Saving money is great, but customers will not be happy with their heating systems if they are uncomfortable.
Stand alone geothermal systems deliver heat in the 90 – 120 degree Fahrenheit range. This may appear acceptable, but when the air temperature falls below body temperature customers are likely to become uncomfortable.
Geothermal systems are typically paired with electronic heat systems to supplement the comfort gap during extreme cold weather. When the electric heat is running, there is a significant increase in monthly costs, and also increase in carbon footprint. Thus negating the benefits of the geothermal system.
Compared to propane heating systems that deliver heat in the 120 – 140 degree Fahrenheit range, well above the cold threshold.
Propane vs. Geothermal Costs
According to research by Newport Partners, LLC, geothermal does have the lowest annual energy costs of any type of heating system studied. However, other costs associated with geothermal are NOT the cheapest:
- Upfront costs of geothermal are significant
- Costs include ground source heat pump, plus digging, installing, and burying ground loops
- This leads to the longest payback period of any heating system – up to 15 years in some cases
In contrast, a high-efficiency propane furnace was the most affordable to purchase and install of all the heating systems studies.
Because propane is a clean, efficient energy source, you can count on affordable annual energy costs, as well.
Propane: More Than Just Home Heating
Here’s some more good news! Once you’ve installed propane, you can use it for more than just home heating:
- Water Heating
- Clothes Drying
- Standby Generators
- And More!
Contact CES today for a no obligation quote at 800-874-1975 or click here.
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