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

This myth is completely reliant upon appropriate sizing of your geothermal unit. Sizing is one of the most important factors when installing a geothermal unit which is why it is essential to use a qualified geothermal contractor. An undersized system will not only require a backup unit but it will rely heavily on the backup unit during extreme temperatures. Constant use of a backup unit will end up costing you even more than traditional heating and cooling solutions.

If you have a correctly sized unit, you do not need a backup system. Geothermal unites are equipped with an auxiliary heating unit that runs on electric. This backup system does not exist as a supplemental heat source for extremely cold temperatures; it is only in place to serve as a precaution in the rare instance that your geothermal heat pump breaks down.

By utilizing the constant temperature in the ground a geothermal heat pump does not need a backup radiator or furnace as supplemental heat on extremely cold days. Myth #2 is put to rest; geothermal heat pumps do NOT need a backup heat supply.

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

Check back for Myth #3: I can’t afford a geothermal heat pump system

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Comments (3)


  1. Jacqueline Gauvin says:

    That has not been my experience. When the temperatures drop below 20, we have to use space heaters and our fireplace insert to stay warm. Even worse, I have learned that here in Michigan, no heating contractor will work on a geothermal system unless they installed it. If the heat goes out (which it has twice in the the six years I have had the system) I have to wait until the contractor who installed the system is available to come out and work on it. I would not recommend this system to anyone else.

  2. Steve Radcliffe says:

    I’m glad to see this myth busted. I wonder though. I live in Chesapeake, VA and have a 5 ton, 2 stage FHP that can’t keep up in very cold weather. No one is freezing, but asking for 68 and it taking all day to get it says something is amiss. I’t 1:22 PM, 22 degrees outside and the downstairs temp is 66. Loop water temp is around 50 degrees. We began the day at 13 degrees. It’s been asking for 68 since 8 AM or so. The house is about 2400 sq. ft. Filters are all clear so what should I be looking for?

  3. Tom Barton says:

    It may well be that my geothermal system is undersized, but whatever the cause, the unit needs to go to the alternative electric heat source quite often when it is extremely cold and windy here in Iowa. This of course results in huge electric bills, negating the economies of the heat pump system. My question is whether anyone has developed a natural gas alternate heat source to be combined with the geothermal?

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