If you're thinking about installing a geothermal system, the initial cost is certainly one of the factors that plays a role in the decision-making process. Although geothermal heating and cooling will probably save you money in the long run, it is more expensive than conventional systems. The equipment isn't much more expensive, its the underground portion known as the loop-field which adds to upfront cost. Consumers should first become acquainted with the geothermal installation process to understand how the cost is derived.
The short answer to how cost is calculated is as follows:
Indoor Portion + Underground Loop Field = Total System Cost
The inside portion is composed of the price of the geothermal heat pump, its installation, and possible duct work modification. This is done by an HVAC contractor properly trained in geothermal.
The Underground Loop Field involves drilling (or sometimes escavating) and materials. This is usually done by a well driller. The loop field is approximately 50% of the total cost, although many factors effect this generalization.
For your particular situation the following variables are considered:
The first factor that we'll take a look at is the size of the home or other building for which you'd like to install geothermal. Look at it like this - a 2000 sq. ft. home isn't going to require the same amount of heating and cooling as a 6000 sq. ft. church. The larger the area covered, the more heating and cooling it is going to demand. That said, a major variable of pricing is the insulation factor, which has a direct effect on how much heating and cooling is needed. Do you live in a well insulated home or a cardboard box?
Based on the size of the home, insulation, and climate the amount of heating and cooling needed is calculated, which in turn enables a contractor to calculate the size of the heat pump for the job. Needless to say, a larger heat pump is going to be a little pricier than one that's smaller in comparison.
Next, the size of the loop field that's to be installed in the ground comes into play. The size of the system (3-ton, 4-ton, etc.) along with the climate in which your located will dictate the amount of pipe that needs to be inserted into the earth. A loop field contractor will usually charge a price per foot; therefore, the larger the system, the more pipe that needs to go into the ground, the more expensive the loop field becomes. The loop field cost can vary by region because of the availability of contractors, the ground conditions, and also the price of fuel.
In most cases, this shouldn't be too large of a factor, as most existing ductwork requires little to no adjustment to be suitable for geothermal heating and cooling. That said, if you don't have existing ductwork then you'll have the full expense of installing it. However, it's important to consider that this is a cost for which you are going to be responsible for regardless of what type of heating and cooling you install. Ductwork is simply a necessity of almost all HVAC systems - not an exclusive monetary addition to your geothermal system pricing.
These are some of the main players as far as the cost of your geothermal heating and cooling system goes. There are more minute components of pricing, of course, but we feel that these four (and all that they encompass) are the most important for consumers to grasp. Bottom line - Size of Home, Climate, & Labor dictate total system price.
A quality contractor, with the right training and experience, is the key to a happy geothermal system customer. For this reason, it's important to never choose your contractor based solely on price. An inexperienced contractor can undersize your system, producing a lower quote. However, the system will not produce the efficiencies you desire. If you need help identifying the best geothermal contractor in your area, contact us. We can help you ask the right questions.
Hopefully by now you understand that "it depends". To get a ballpark idea of what a geothermal system might cost & save you try the geothermal savings calculator. This is not a quote, its a ballpark figure which we think will be pretty close. To get an actual quote contact a geothermal contractor near you.
If you are located in a northern state you might be interested in geothermal by the numbers. This example is of a family's exact geothermal costs, savings, and experiences with geothermal.