Geothermal Myth #1: Geothermal Heat Pumps Don’t Work In Extreme Cold

With all of the information available on the web, we wanted to take the time to dispel a few of the myths surrounding geothermal heat pumps in a three part series. Today, Geothermal Myth #1: They Don’t Work in the Extreme Cold.

The myth that geothermal heat pumps do not work in cases of extreme cold is often derived from the fact that standard air source heat pumps do perform poorly in below freezing temperatures. A ground source heat pump is NOT an air-to-air heat pump.

A number of homeowners in the Northeast have complained that air-source heat pumps do not have the ability to produce enough warm air when the outdoor temperature drops below freezing (which it often does during those brutal northeast winters). The differences is that when the outside temperature is below freezing (say 15 degrees Fahrenheit) the temperature underground is still somewhere between 45 and 55 degrees.

So remember that 400% efficiency that your geothermal heat pump has? Well it’s still there! Just because the temperature outside drops does not mean you need to worry about your geothermal heat pump’s ability to keep you warm.  Your geothermal heating will function however it simply needs to produce more heat to keep up (meaning it will run longer). Most systems will have an auxiliary heat backup (electric) to ensure the system always provides sufficient heat. This auxiliary heat should only come on during the coldest days of the year. Problems arise when the auxiliary heat runs constantly – this would result in a very high electric bill.

You will find many upset homeowners who curse geothermal systems. We certainly will not hide the fact that there have been plenty of disastrous installations out there by inexperienced contractors. You’ll find these stories in the comments below. These situations are extremely unfortunate and the frustrations by these homeowners are completely warranted, however, its not the technology – its the design. When a system is not designed correctly it fails – think of it like trying to tow a large boat with a Honda Civic. Finding a quality geothermal contractor is absolutely the key to geothermal happiness. Ask for references from systems the same company installed 5-10 years ago, if they don’t have them then don’t buy!

Geothermal Myth #2: My Geothermal Unit Will Need a Backup

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Comments (50)

 

  1. Meryl Haslam says:

    My expereience has been quite different. In extreme temps (below 0 in winter, 90+ in summer), my geothermal system just doesn’t perform properly.

    As an example, it was 90+ degrees yesterday. Thermostat was set to 73 and the house temp stayed at 76 all day. I even tried setting it to 65 and it made no difference. Same problem in winter. Set it to 72 and it won’t budge over 68.

    This is a 6 year old WaterFurnace System
    Any thoughts would be welcome.

  2. NAGU says:

    i have dx exchange geothermal installed in my house
    it keeps the house warm when temp outside is above 40 degree F…but when temp falls below the house gets cold …Ranco temp from the system will be around 70 and water temp is around the same,…

  3. Ronda Dennis-Smithart says:

    We have geothermal x 2 yr, satisfied until last month when our electric usage almost doubled what it’s been previous winters. Last month $600! Had tech here, who reported our outgoing temp vs incoming is 10 degrees different, but ground temp is only 34 degrees so the unit can’t keep up, and auxillary heat has been needed. We have 3 geo in an office building, and bills have been less than 200, which is in line with previous bills. Tech could find nothing wrong, anything we can do? Location Iowa, temps below zero.

    • Robert says:

      Do Not know if you ever got your answer. But if you system is Closed loop (Pump you water in pipes that have antifreeze in them) then your issue was/is Low temp loop setting. On Climate Master a jumper on the board must be cut to allow it to run the fluid temp lower then 34 degrees.

  4. Sally G says:

    My geothermal heating system works great until the temps here in Virginia dropped below 20F. The thermostat is set at 70F downstairs and will only hold at 62. The upstairs is even colder at 58. What is going on and how can I have it warmer in my house.

  5. Dr. Jan Herman says:

    That’s what I was led to believe which brought me to spending $70,000 to convert my 5000 s.f., three-story (plus full basement) home to the (what I was told) is the largest residential (5-ton; 2-ton water-to-air & 3-ton water-to-water) geothermal installation in Northeastern PA (Climatemaster) in March/April 2013. Meanwhile, during the last three weeks (since about New Year’s Day 2014), the temperature outside has dropped (and remained for up to four days straight) below freezing. It has often gone sub-zero out there. What I have been dealing with, as a result, is a repeated freezing up of the system leaving me with no heat save for my emergency, electric backup for sometimes days at a time. This system, which I LOVED during the summer and fall months, has become a nuisance at best since it got (and stayed) very cold outside. Care to elaborate given your above statements? Thanks.

    • Larry Jones says:

      We have virtually the identical geothermal system at our house, newly installed, summer 2015. Southeastern PA. (5 Ton – Climatemaster)System worked great during summer season. During recent cold snap of temps below 20 F, the system was not able to heat above 69 F and it ran continuously!. Very disappointed.

      • Peter Machesney says:

        Hi, we have geothermal and have used vertical. What we have found is that a high level of insulation in your home is of the utmost importance ( even to the point of being airtight )
        Buy a 20 dollar thermal gun and take the reading off your ceilings wall and windows. If there is a 20 F difference you are found the areas of heat leakage.
        One more item of help to assist the Geo is a wood burning stove, we installed a 15KW unit.
        Hope this helps
        Cheers
        Peter

    • Dave Olson says:

      I’m presently designing a system for my 6000 sq ft house and we’re looking at about 11 tons of capacity (to include DHW). I think your design was likely undersized.

  6. Karen Massey says:

    I installed a geothermal unit 4 years ago. Now I am having problems when the temperature gets down to 20 with the geothermal until switching over to auxiliary heat (ie emergency electrical heat which is VERY high dollar). My contractor now says the geothermal units are not designed to heat in weather that is below 20 degrees. I’ve never heard that statement made before. Is that true? Does anyone know the truth?

    • mcderven mechanical says:

      The biggest issue with ground source heat pumps is application. A ground source heat pump will transfer the same amount of heat all year. Whether you are transfering from ground to house (heating) or house to ground ( cooling ). What happens in the very low temperatures is that the heat transfer from inside to outside increases. Therefore the btu output in not enough. For example this is based on a normal year in the ottawa area. During cooling inside is 70 and outside is 95 = 25’f difference. During heating season inside is 70 and outside is -4 = 74’f difference. A heat pump is sized slightly larger than its cooling application. More often then not the heat pump does not supply enough heat during the winter months and the backup kicks in. The introduction of the 2 stage heat pump has helped this situation greatly. A typical application for a heat pump is a new efficient house.

    • Laura Mccaughan says:

      Did you get an answer to your post about geothermal not working in extreme cold, say below zero?

  7. Travis says:

    I work on GEO Thermals on a military base where atifreeze is not permitted. having temps of 32 going into house and 40 going out this year was the coldest weather on south west Oklahoma in years. Could not heat house with that temp of water in loop with no heat strips to help out, as soon as it warms up it works great. What options do i have?

  8. wolfpack says:

    The #1 Issue in geothermal today is improper system design which usually means the loop field (the outdoor portion) is UNDERSIZED which causes very high electric bills in the winter (because the backup electric is running too often) and inability to cool in extreme summer temperatures. This is a real issue in the industry today and its why we stress the importance of a quality contractor and to NOT chose on price. Some quotes have less loop field which leads to these types of concerns down the line.

    • Dale Binkley says:

      I tend to agree with wolfpack. Our system is 6 years old. A couple of the winters we have been through have had extended periods below freezing. Even with the cold spells, it is rare that our backup heat comes on at all.

      The first winter our system was in operation we had a couple weeks where the temp outside only reached 20F during the day and was usually around 0F at night. Our system ran longer but kept the house at 68F. We found out in the spring that our backup coil heater had not been connected and did not work at all during the winter. We were pleased that our system was able to keep up. In spite of this oversight, we saved at $1000 the first year our unit was in operation.

  9. Ben says:

    I have a 600′ closed ground loop for a 4 ton system. When the temperature outside is 20 degrees or colder for an extended period, the loop gets too cold to keep up. The longer the cold spell, the colder the loop becomes and the less effective the heating system. In 4 years of operation, It did not keep up for 12-20 days total. I have no strip heater or backup of any kind and I’m considering adding one now. I am sure if I over-sized my loop, this would be less of an issue but extended, lower than expected temps, will cool the loop more every hour.

    • Dave Olson says:

      Assuming yours is a horizontal trench ground loop, it is probably only 1/4 to 1/2 as long as it should be, i.e. 600′ per ton.

  10. Kathy says:

    Our 2-year old geo has been a nightmare. We are cold, broke, with a ballooning carbon footprint (due to auxiliary electric heat being on so much). We used an IGSHPA certified contractor with good word of mouth in the area. It’s a weekend house. By mid winter, the system doesn’t keep the house (1450 sq feet near Albany, NY) much above 62 when the temperature drops below 25F; it “froze” last winter. Auxiliary heat is on frequently, high electric bills (worst months at $700-800 for weekend heating when contractor had told us to expect $100 for full time heating). Contractor said first year that poor performance was due to opening ground for install in November; also said that we need to do spend another $8k for more insulation (we had done what he recommended at install). Following year he refers to more insulation needed; now tells us that it takes systems 4-5 years to “settle in” to maximum efficiency. (Is this possible or just an excuse from him?) We have been burned with our attempt to be kind to the planet, and are looking to install a supplemental propane furnace. Does anyone have experience with this? When do you use the supplemental? When the geo runs out mid season or as a boost on the coldest days throughout the season? On a happier note, geo A/C has performed beautifully.

  11. Shannon says:

    I just paid $35,000 for a geothermal system and was assured that it would keep me warm this winter. It is not even January yet and the system is going into a freeze error and the emergency heat is coming on. It appears I have been lied to. I thought I was dealing with a reputable contractor. Now what to do!!!!!!!!!!

    • Shawn G says:

      We had a similar issue with our unit, a Geocomfort Navigator. The unit kept freezing up. After two attempts the contractor was finally able to find the issue, a jumper was set on the unit incorrectly. The jumper was set to indicate that the unit was an open loop system instead of closed. This jumper caused the unit to think the water coming in to it was too cold and would shut down the compressor, causing the Aux heat to kick in. Now with the jumper set correctly we have not had any issues. We have also installed a new thermostat that allows us to set the maximum temp outside before Aux should kick in.

  12. Jack says:

    I have to say, Geothermal is useless in winter! I bought a new home with a Geothermal system pre-installed (didn’t have to pay extra for it). I am in Canada and over the fall (temps between 30-45), the system worked brilliantly! My energy bill was super cheap…but as soon as the cold winter (20s to -10s) kicked in the system is useless! I can’t keep my home temperature above 65 and the auxiliary heat pump kicks in most times, which obviously made my hydro bill go crazy – $450 alone last month.

    At this point, I am seriously planning to replace the whole system with a gas or electric one with zones.

    So a piece of advice, if you live in warmer country you might get some of the Geothermal savings back, but if you don’t…don’t spend your money and buy one, you will never recoup your investment and will have cold winters inside your own home.

  13. It sounds like people are struggling with improper sizing and perhaps over-driving the system and attempts to heat a space too fast. Geothermal works best when you heat slowly and steadily so you don’t freeze the ground surrounding the loop field.

    I interviewed our lead design engineer, who addresses these topics in this article: http://bit.ly/NGBlog38

    If you are having issues with an undersized loop field, get in touch with us and we can easily increase your loop field capacity without any digging or trenching!

    • Steve pineda says:

      Hi chris
      Can you tell us how to increase well feild capacity. We are considering adding an additional geothermal unit but we just dont know

  14. Rebecca Stone says:

    We are having the same problems as described above. We just purchased our log home and were pleased that it had a geothermal system. The house is cold during low temperatures outside and we have had extremely high electric bills. The last one was $577.00!
    If indeed the previous owner did install an “undersized loop field” what can be done and how costly would such a project be?
    Thanks!

    • Kevin W. Peele says:

      Rebecca, we live in a log home too in Iowa. We have Elec furnace first year elect bills $500 month and cold. We installed a wood stove 2 winters ago. great heat but very time consuming. We are considering GEO. Have you resolved your issues in your home?
      you can answer me back at my first name&last name no spaces AT the google type mail dot com
      Thanks, Kevin

  15. Chris says:

    As an owner of a Waterfurnace Geothermal unit, I disagree with the title and comments the blog author. We have a certified Waterfunace dealer service our unit every 6 months to maximize its efficiency. However, like others have said, these units DO NOT hold the set temp. During the winter months we set our thermostat to 68. Last night it got down to 5 degrees here in Tennessee and the unit ran the ENTIRE night on Aux Heat but the room temp was 62 this morning. The same thing happened last year when it got below 20 degrees. FYI…The money you save in the summer is offset in the winter by astronomical electrical bills because the unit runs constantly. Furthermore, we have had to replace the blower fan multiple times (probably because it burns out from overuse) which has to be special ordered exclusively through Waterfunace costing about $900! If your considering a geothermal unit, think twice, don’t waste your money and trust the comments from those of us who have them!

  16. Cold in ohio says:

    Have 6 ton geothermal and it sucks, our loop is over 150 ft long and electric back up is always on, for the money that was spent on this piece of crap and the electric bills that hit 600 I could have bought a lot of propane and been warm

  17. MARGARET TRIOLO says:

    My experience is that the system is not a good fit for the extreme drops in temperatures in Long Island NY. We had 10 below zero temps this week (my first winter with it) my electric bill is almost 3x’s what it used to be and the system shut down & my pipes froze…the fact that the company (sherman industry) filed bankruptcy after they took peoples money & didn’t complete jobs doesn’t help because they held the 15 warranty if we were ever to have a problem …so we have no one to turn to & are at the mercy of companies don’t have emergency on call service & come 24 hours later & who just want to say the system was installed incorrectly & do nothing to fix it!!! I highly recommend to anyone considering geothermal for their heating & cooling RUN don’t walk to your nearest gas installer…this is not for NYers with extreme weather conditions!!!!

  18. Ken says:

    I agree, systems seem to not work well when temps outside drop below freezing for extended periods of time. I just had a climatemaster trilogy 45 installed and I asked them to not install the auxiliary heat because I was told it wouldn’t need it (but could add it in later if I wanted). To me it seemed like a waste to put in an expensive electric backup for a system guaranteed to work in any temp I would encounter. This is our first winter. I’m in NY on Long Island and currently outdoor temps are as low at 7 at night and are averaging 20 during the day for the last week or so. My system has some really good diagnostic info available realtime. It can go for full day stretches at 100% capacity and the indie temp, whether set at 67, 68, or 69 degrees, never quite gets to where it’s set. Sometimes it struggles at 65 degrees for a whole day.

  19. Farmer K says:

    I share similar experiences for extreme cold. It is not an issue of loops – we have plenty of land for horizontal loops, eight turns and the capacity of the unit is well beyond the size of the farm home. The electric heat strip isn’t practical cost-wise. I have resorted to a propane backup zoned for the coolest part of the home. As we only use propane for cooking, the tank is enough to get us through extreme cold. I concur with practitioners – it is no myth. Sure, it could be that contractor education is not sufficient. Odds of getting adoption in my farming area are zilch as I was a first mover and it just doesn’t work when you need it most. 68 degree any sunny, no problem.

    • The service guy says:

      I am a heating contractor in south east Idaho, our design temperature here is -6°F. I install/service climate master geothermal units, everyone that I have put them in for loves them(50+ application). I am willing to help answer questions If you have gotten answers yet

  20. Anthony Kaiser says:

    I’m not even remotely qualified to design or install geothermal, but anyone who has taken any secondary ed science classes and has a basic understanding of thermodynamics and the nature of the temperature of the earth can guess the problems laid out here are design issues with the build, and not a failure of geothermal hvac at all. If the earth or water is within the operating parameters of the machine, and the design allows for maintaining the earth/water temp within those parameters, the system will work perfectly, if you set it and forget it. If your system failed, the loops weren’t long and/or deep enough, because, unless you’re so far away from the equator the ground is too cold, the ground has sufficient heat to transfer.

  21. chris o says:

    I have had a water source geo unit for 3 years now. its a 5 ton unit on a 2800sf home. the first year it did not keep up on 100 deg days, or on days below 10 deg. the contractor had installed 600 feet of ground loop. I did some research on geothermal and found it takes closer to 300 feet per ton. might even being a 5 ton = 1500 feet. or on a vertical loop it takes 150 feet per ton. I had a water drilling get company come out and drill 6 water wells to 150 feet deep each. (did not have them cased.) dropped loops down each hole, tied all wells in a series, connected them to my horizontal ground loop, and now I have no problem cooling on 100 plus days or heating on 10 degree days. auxiliary heat never comes on now. they simply need more ground loop. I don’t care what the contractor says. I had gotten all kinds of excuses from mine. I think they just want work, and make it to where you need them to come look at it. any questions anyone might have I will leave my email here. oleranoler35@gmail.com I know the frustrations that many of you are feeling.

  22. David says:

    Geothermal is garbage!!!! Cannot wait to remove this system from our house. Im sitting at 59 degrees and dropping. Installed a navian with a heat exchanger in the air handler to bump up the temp. I’m going back to baseboard heating. Temp increases faster and I’m sick of always feeling cold. Geothermal is a disaster. Do not believe any websites that tell you otherwise!!!

  23. Rick H. says:

    Wow…I’m surprised at all of these bad experiences. I have a 3 ton and a 4 ton pair of Climate Master systems…one for my second floor and one for my first floor. It was designed for a 70 deg F rise over the outside temperature. It has worked perfectly for 6 plus years now. We live in MA and get below zero at night from time to time. We set our thermostat at 61 deg F over night and 68 deg F during the day. We have never had a problem with keeping the house at those temps. We don’t have any back up heat source either. The Geothermal system does this entirely on its own.

    It looks like at least some of the problem is bad design by your contractors. “Cold in Ohio” in particular shows this. You need 150 ft of loop for EACH ton of heating/cooling capacity. If you only have 150 feet of loop for 6 tons, you are short 750 feet of loop to exchange heat with the earth…it’s no surprise your system is having problems.

  24. Keith says:

    Would never recommend Geo to anyone. Thankfully we purchased a house that had it so we didn’t have to spend the money to have it installed. That said, the auxiliary has to kick on anytime is below 20° in here in Northeast Ohio, what’s the point in having it if you want to have outrageous electric bills.

  25. Jim says:

    Geothermal sucks for heating…period. I shut my upstairs unit down for the Winter and installed space heaters in every room. The geothermal was running constantly. I’ve had it checked out numerous times. It is supposed to be a 2.5 ton split system, but the label on the scroll compressor shows that it is only 20,000 BTU/hr. Combine that with a long line set up into the attic from the basement and you have the makings of a poorly performing system. If I had natural gas on my street I would switch over in an instant. The house had open loop geothermal when we purchased it. Wish I had known then about the horrors of geothermal in the Winter. Works great in the Summer, though. Electric bills of $500 not uncommon for us, and it hasn’t even been all that cold. Thank God for global warming.

  26. M Newell says:

    We have not experienced any issue with heating during cold weather. Granted, the last two winter have been mild so no long stretches of extreme cold, but we have had several sub zero nights and lots of days with highs in the teens or low 20’s an our geo system has not missed a beat. In the two years our heat strips have only kicked on twice, both times involving an outside door being left open by my over heated husband coming in from working outside and opening a door adjacent to the thermostat. The dramatic drop in temperature caused the heat strips to kick on even though the outside temps were only in the 50’s. When we had our system installed by a very well qualified company they explained to us that Geo systems do not cope well with large INTERIOR temperature swings (in excess of 2 degrees) and advised us not to continue to reduce the temperature in the house at night or when we were gone as we had with our previous heat pump. So we set the temp and we leave it. To be more comfortable at night we simply closed the registers in the bedroom to maintain the cooler temperature at which we prefer to sleep. With our old system we kept the thermostat at 68 during the day and 62 at night during the winter and 78 during the summer. With the geo system we keep it at a constant 70 during the winter and 75 during the summer and have still realized a 40% + reduction in energy usage ( I used the kilowatt consumption rate to calculate because our electricity cost rate reduced and I didn’t want a false savings reflection) despite being more comfortable both summer and winter. The only thing we do not seem to benefit from is the free hot water promised but I think it is simply because were as not tasking our system enough, as on the rare occasions we have reduce the temp in the summer the system seems to produce more hot water. We have been extremely pleased with the system we had installed and would do it again in a heartbeat. We have a ClimateMaster Tranquility 3 ton with 3 vertical loops and are heating 1800 square feet (living space), all electric, in Ohio.

  27. Zac W says:

    These comments are very helpful for somebody that lives in a colder climate and has been considering geothermal to replace propane.

    I can’t help but wonder why there are so many of these articles exposing this “myth” while there are so many individuals whose experiences are the exact opposite.

    Either designers need to come out and say it: geothermal systems are impractical for cold weather climates where average temps in the winter do not get above freezing, or there needs to be some serious regulations put on proper install and design of geothermal systems so that people are not spending tens of thousands of dollars on a heating system that does not work for their home.

    There is clearly a LARGE disconnect between theory and reality here that needs to be sorted out for people such as myself to be willing to fully commit to the prospect of geothermal heating.

  28. shannon kyles says:

    I have had my Geothermal unit now for 6 years. I am currently staying at a friend’s because the temperature went below freezing and, as usual, the heat pump failed. I have the system serviced three to four times a year. It fails every December, then again in July when it is supposed to be air conditioning. The unit is extremely expensive, frail, noisy, undependable, and continues to cost twice what a gas furnace would cost. Stay away from Geo.

  29. Ricky G says:

    I have 2 3 Ton Water Furnace Pumps heating an 80 gallon storage tank. That tank feeds 4 zones. Zones 1 to 3 are radiant buried in concrete on each floor (optimal heat sink) and zone 4 is an air handler for cooling and spot heating. My house is large and lots of open areas. Well insulated but there are large windows which does cause heat loss in Winter and solar heat in summer.
    I’m in NH and in my area we can easily stay in the 80s and 90s during the summer and below freezing in the winter.
    My experience has not been good with the system. Like a a lot of the comments above, my system cannot heat the house during extreme low temps nor cool during the hottest summer days. I am putting in a propane heating system and will see if using the two system to balance out the highs and lows is economical or scrapping the geo makes more sense. Time will tell.

  30. Warm and Happy in Ohio says:

    We have 2,000 SF ranch with partially finished basement that was built in 1977 the electric radiant heat in the ceiling. Our electric bill was running $900 a month in the coldest winter months a few years ago. In October 2016 we installed a 4 ton water furnace 7 series with five – 180-Ft vertical wells. It has performed beautifully. In the first year heating the house to 76 degrees in the winter, cooling to 68 degrees in the Summer, heating our water, and heating 400 SF of the basement previously not heated it cut our electric usage by 48 percent.

    Now our bills are under $200 a month ($0.13 per kWh) even on the warmest and coldest months. We have never gone into auxiliary heat even in the last week with tempertures in teens during the day and around zero at night.

    We agree completely with the author that the issues described are a design/sizing issue. Of the five estimates we obtained one suggested a 2.5 ton unit, one a 3 ton and the other three contractors 4 ton units. We did spend some effort making sure they performed a load calculation for the house and discovered that the 2.5 ton recommendation omitted two fireplaces from their calculations. We suggest reading the information from the manufacture. Ours recommended insulated ducts in an unheated basement and a minimum air volume for the unit size. Adding insulation and up sized duct work added approximately $1,000.

    We also on a recommendation from another geothermal Owner paid to intall an extra ton of loop/well capacity which cost an additional $1,300. The $2,300 ($1,610 after tax credit) of extras was well worth it as we expect a ten year return on our investment for the entire system.

    Our only regret was not installing a whole house humidifier.

    Lesson learned/suggestions
    -obtain several quotes
    -ask to see a load calculation
    -educate yourself on the equipment
    -spend the money upfront on insulating ducts and holding tank (if using hot water preheating)
    -add an extra well or horizontal loop
    -for variable speed units install floor and high wall cold air returns
    -install furnace in middle of house if possible
    -verify that loops and wells are backfilled/grouted with bentonite swelling clay
    -install a whole house surge suppressor device to protect the furnace controls and your other appliances

    To those with issues we are sorry that your contractors didn’t do a better job. If they are still in business and gave you a performance guarantee go after them. They likely had to post a bond with the City or County were you live and you maybe able to file a claim against their bond. Best of Luck

  31. Matt In the NorthEast says:

    Reading the comments one would imagine the Geothermal is a bad choice. There are 3 things to keep in mind:
    1) People with well engineered systems in place don’t generally find themselves on pages like this. There systems just work and any concern about it has fallen the background.
    2) There are poorly designed systems from non-reputable installers. I don’t doubt any of the stories here (especially the one from Ohio with only a 150′ ground loop).
    3) Aux heat will kick on, how often depends on external temperature, house efficiency, system design, and thermostat setting.

    I have had my system for only 2.5 months, in that time we have realized some pretty significant savings. Prior to our Geothermal system we saved $150/month for winter heating bills ($1800) and that was a good average, last year we had some excess left over, 5 years ago that value was half of what we needed (due to a prolonged cold snap).
    That is an average of $360/month in the 5 months of heavy usage (1/2 Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, 1/2 March).
    Here is what we have used so far (based on .13/kWh, our current rate from National Grid) (only full month usage):
    Nov: $114
    Dec: $182

    Mind you that December had a good cold snap in the latter part of the month (sub 0 fahrenheit).

    I have started to chart daily data by collecting data from my systems API. I wish I had done this earlier, but from 12/30/17 on I will be adding to this chart:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQArMofPBBowtX6DDEA3mceLpXX1ryiig7sG6UyBwT8-D-YayWl1s7wMDDA3wG7JRxErz8AYqIuyf1A/pubchart?oid=1212808068&format=interactive

    Check it out if your interested, I’ll continue to update it throughout the winter.
    To note differences in systems, an acquaintance of mine lives about 50 miles south of me and has a slightly larger system. He has noted that in his system he has yet to use any aux heat even though the cold snap. He doesn’t have a zoned system like I do but does have a larger home, 5 ton where as I have a 4 ton system, 500′ vertical well where mine is 450′. He also runs at 68 instead of 69/70.

  32. real donaldjtrump says:

    I agree with most compliant, my geo great for 40 degree and above outside temp. During long cold periods here in Indiana the pay off us ing aux heat in the winter, draft feeling cause of the heat coming out of the vents is cold and out ridicules electric bill in the winter. The savings are gone.

    Go Gas if you want to keep warm!!!!! Drill baby Drill!!!!

  33. John F says:

    I purchased a 16 yr old home with a 5 yr old Waterfurnace in southern Indiana 3.5 yrs ago. It’s a ground loop. I absolutely love it. Set the thermostat and forget it. I can’t believe all the complaints out there. We are electric only on this property. It runs almost constantly in stage 1 when the temp gets into the teens(that’s a good thing). We just had a cold spell with temps in the single digits and below zero and I only saw stage 2. I rarely see AUX mode. Our electric bill has never been over $260 a mo. Last months bill was $205. We are all electric 2 story 2400 sq ft house. We keep it 68 in the winter and 74 in the summer and it holds tight. All of these issues I see have to be a bad installation. The installer didn’t size the system correctly for the house and insulation factor. We are proof that the system works! It’s unfortunate that companies sell to unqualified installers. It’s only hurting themselves.

  34. vickie says:

    I bought a home in Alton mo this past summer that has a Geothermal H/vac system. During this cold spell the unit yesterday achieved 57* running non-stop, the day before it achieved 64*, but we had a warm day. An earlier cold snap we had the same results. The system had no backup, which left us scrambling for heat.
    It’s like air conditioning in the winter.
    I talked with the company that installed the system; they said that with the current conditions, that was appropriate.
    After digging I find all these stories about the systems inability to heat without a backup.
    With the expense of this system, I would seriously consider a regular heat pump, with propane back up.

    Very disappointing, buyer beware!

  35. Larry Johns says:

    Do not buy geothermal. We have a new (4 years old) geothermal system with propane backup for very cold weather, but had high propane bills. A serviceman with expertise adjusted our system to not use propane until the outdoor temp goes below 20 degrees. That reduced our propane bill but increased our electric bill by almost the exact same amount. Geothermal was an expensive investment and there is no payback.

  36. Ken says:

    I have had geothermal since 2008 with zero problems. The complaints people have are with crap contractors. We paid 26k but the system paid for itself in 5 years. You have to have a big enough loop to heat the house properly. We have an acre of land and the installers used the width of the entire lot and half the length for the loop. The system is fantastic here in mich where temps get below 0. Never one problem so far, excellent contractor.

  37. Mary says:

    I am having the same problem with geo not working right. Our initial geo was installed 20 years ago and worked beautifully. Then we had some problem and we were told we needed a new system. Ever since then, we have had one problem after another. Winter bills doubled, the doubled again. I freaked!!! Had it looked at and found out the auxiliary was running all of the time. Repair guy replaced the thermostat twice thinking that might be the problem. Today, very cold air was coming out of vents. I have been freezing. It was warmer outside than inside, so put the thermostat down low enough that it turned off. House warmed up after I turned the heat off!!!!! I have no clue who to call. No one around seems to be geo educated. I would appreciate any help in what to do other than have the expensive system replaced with natural gas.

  38. Dutch Schultz says:

    Wow! I thought I was alone with all of my geothermal system issues. I was promised super efficient heating and cooling at a fraction of the traditional costs. What a crock! Our winter utility bill exceeded $700 for 1 month alone due to the electric backup running constantly. Original contractors won’t do anything about it. What can we do to make the world aware of this failed ‘promised’ technology? Never would I have spent the kind of money I did to put this system in my home. Will it take a class action lawsuit?? I think a good PR campaign is our best bet.

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