According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “geothermal heat pumps are the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective systems for heating and cooling”. Among many others, a big reason why consumers make the switch from conventional HVAC systems to a geothermal heat pump system is because of their low operating costs. As stated by the Department of Energy, geothermal heat pumps can cut energy bills by up to 65% compared to traditional HVAC units.

So, where do these savings in operating cost come from? Well, there are a few different factors at play, but these are the three primary reasons:

  1. There’s No Need for Fossil Fuels
    First, geothermal heat pumps do not burn fossil fuels. Those who heat their home using oil or gas know the pain of having to refill their tank, sometimes multiple times a year. These costs, on top of monthly electric bills can be quite the financial burden. Combine this with the fact that oil pricing is subject to supply and demand and you’ve got frequent headaches. Geothermal heat pumps free homeowners from oil and gas bills entirely – greatly reducing costs and unpredictability.
  2. Ultra-Efficient Equipment
    Traditional furnaces create heat. This is not the most efficient process because it results in less energy put into the home than what the actual fuel contains. Even the most efficient traditional furnace is still only about 98% efficient.
    On the contrary, geothermal heat pumps transfer heat from the ground. This is a much more efficient process because the system can put out more energy than the power it consumes. In addition, only about a fourth of the energy delivered comes from the utility– the rest is extracted from free, renewable energy beneath the ground. For these reasons, geothermal heat pumps are 400% efficient – that’s 4 times more efficient than a traditional furnace!
  3. Low Maintenance
    Geothermal heat pump systems require minimal maintenance due to their simplicity and longevity. The ground loop itself is buried beneath the ground and requires no maintenance – they typically have a lifetime of 50 to 100 years. For the heat pump, most manufacturers recommend a simple filter change 2 – 3 times per year and an inspection every five or so years. The heat pump, which is inside, typically lasts 20-25 years – that’s 5-10 years more than many conventional systems.

With the installation of more and more geothermal heat pumps, comes an abundance of benefits for our economy and environment; but those who directly benefit from low operating costs are the home and building owners themselves. Low operating costs means reduced monthly utility bills, less maintenance calls, and a better return on investment.

John (Jack) P. DiEnna Jr is the Executive Director of the Geothermal National & International Initiative, and can be reached at

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