How Energy Efficient is a Geothermal Heat Pump?

Geothermal heat pumps are energy efficient heating and cooling units that use the sun’s natural rays to heat the ground, where this energy is absorbed through the soil and used to heat and cool your home. Geothermal heat pumps are an energy efficient alternative to your traditional furnace, but many homeowners are skeptical about their benefits. Your furnace still works, so what’s the point in switching? Well, a geothermal heat pump is an affordable energy efficient alternative to traditional heating methods.

In order to explain how energy efficient a geothermal heat pump is, we have to dive into time spent running, climates, energy rates, size of your home, and emissions. Before we do that its important to note that a geothermal system is hands down more energy efficient than anything on the market – what most people are asking when it comes to efficiency is how much will it cost to operate vs. my fossil fuel options. Here is a real world example of geothermal vs. propane in Pennsylvania.

Cost to Run a Geothermal Heat Pump

Some people think energy efficiency is just another marketing scheme to get a consumer to buy something new; however, the truth of the matter is that energy efficiency does save you money! The only way to truly understand it is to try it out. In terms of a geothermal heat pump, the cost to run it depends on a few factors:

  • Size of your home

  • Size of the heat pump

  • Cost of electricity

  • Weather intensity/climate

If you’re looking for an exact number, it’s just not possible to give one number for every household; however, you can contact a local geothermal heat pump installer for an exact custom quote. If you’re looking for a ballpark estimate, take a look at this calculator. Just fill in the information and they’ll give you annual energy costs for your home versus Geothermal. It would not be unusual to see an average savings of $1500-$2500 per year in a $2500 square foot home. Generally, you’ll see at least $1500 in savings.

Wondering how a geothermal system is priced? How a geothermal system is priced.

Your Home and Your Climates Effect on Costs

Your home is a huge factor in the cost of heating and cooling your home. If you have a larger home your bills are naturally larger than someone with a smaller home. In order for the heat pump to reach all rooms in your home, it has to push that heat through the vents to every room. For larger homes this means you will have larger rooms and more rooms. At the same time, the % savings (generally between 30-35%) you will see will be about the same, so you may see more than $2000 in annual savings.

Besides the sheer size of your home, the climate and weather outside takes a significant toll on how much energy is required to heat or cool your home. If you live in an average climate, such as on the east coast of the United States, you will find the “averages” are strangely close to what you’ll see. However, in the South, the summer days will require significant amounts of energy to cool your home. The same goes for the winter in the North.

Find the Lowest Energy Rates

The most direct factor on what your costs will be is plain and simple: what is your energy supplier charging you? The average cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) across the country in December was 9.88 cents, according to the EIA. Check your utility bill for how much your company is charging you and see if other companies near you are offering lower prices. If so, there could be another $100 or more in savings per year just by switching suppliers.

How Many Emissions are Released?

Energy efficiency is nice because it saves us money, but the real focus was to reduce emissions released into the Earth’s atmosphere. Reducing our carbon footprint makes our planet (and, in turn, us) healthier. To further explain how little energy is used, let’s put it in a different perspective: a standard fossil-fuel furnace is 78-90% efficient. Good, right? Yes, but not when compared to the 400% efficiency of a geothermal heat pump. These numbers come from a unit of measurement called coefficient of performance (COP). A COP is measured by taking the ratio of heating or cooling to total energy consumed to perform that process. In this case, processing and distributing heat or cool air.

How to Reduce Time Spent Running

You may also have guessed that the longer your unit runs, the more energy you use. The more energy you use the more money you spend. Naturally you’ll want to minimize this. The best way to do this is to use a smart programmable thermostat. These thermostats can be set to start and stop at specific times and maintain a temperature at other times. For example, if you’re not home Monday – Friday from 8am – 4pm, then your thermostat should be set fairly low in the winter, or fairly high in the summer. If you’re not home, what are you heating or cooling it for?

Other ways to reduce the time your geothermal heat pump has to work include;

  • Close windows and doors as much as possible

  • Insulate windows and doors

  • Use fluorescent light bulbs (believe it or not, they produce less heat than a standard incandescent light bulb)

  • Cook quick meals in the summer to prevent unnecessary heat from lurking around in your home


Energy efficiency is a trend that has not only popped up everywhere, but is taking a huge effect in helping the environments as well as our pockets. Actually, according to the EIA, the average U.S. home uses 48% of their energy consumption to power their heating and cooling systems in 2009. This is the first time it’s been less than 50% in many years. A large piece of this is estimated to be from using energy efficient appliances, electronics, and lighting. So although geothermal heat pumps are initially steep in price, they will pay for themselves within the first 10 years!

For a ballpark estimate for your home, use the Geothermal Savings Calculator to see what you could be saving from day 1!

Author Bio: Ryan Gavin is an associate of Comfort Pro, an HVAC installation and repair company. He’s always on the lookout for ways to save energy and money.


Comments (1)


  1. Geothermal is much more efficent and evironmetally friendly. The issue is always convincing any homeowner that the cost of installation is justified. This is a very informative article. The best time to have geothermal installed, obviously, during construction of a new home. The real benefit to homeowners is the future benefits of energy savings and knowing that your home is not adding to the current environmental probles.

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