Can a geothermal system be profitable?

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Case study…

It seems miraculous: a source of free energy! During winter, heat your home by drawing heat from the ground. During summer, cool your home and remove excess humidity.

This can save you up to 70% of standard electric heating costs.



How does it work?

Geothermal systems take advantage of the stability of the ground temperature. A special fluid circulates through underground pipes where heat energy is transferred from the ground to the fluid and then to the geothermal unit located in the home, providing warm comfort to the structure. Inside the home, the heat can be distributed through either a conventional duct system or a hydronic radiant heating system.

Vertical or horizontal loops, made of durable, high-density polyethylene, are buried in the earth or submerged in a lake or pond. The type of loop used depends on size and configuration of the terrain.

A geothermal system operates more efficiently than ordinary heating and air conditioning systems because they can deliver an astounding four units of energy for every one unit of electrical energy used.

The cost ranges from $25,000 to $40,000

The cost of a geothermal system for a standard home averages between $25,000 and $40,000. The capacity of the unit is calculated in tons at a price of $8,000 per ton. A standard home usually requires a 3-ton unit.

The costs are divided roughly into three equal parts between drilling and the underground circuit, interior equipment and labor.

The depth of drilling depends on the amount of heat to be produced – hence the size of the home and the quality of its insulation – and on soil conditions.

In an existing home heated with oil and a forced air system, the ductwork is already in place and often big enough to accommodate a geothermal system.

Longevity and maintenance

The life expectancy of an indoor geothermal heat pump can be 25 years, compared to 13 to 15 years for ordinary air conditioners and heat pumps. The earth loop, for its part can safely withstand 50 years.

Furthermore, a geothermal system requires little or no maintenance beyond periodic checks and monthly filter changes.

Quick sale

A question arises: if we are forced to sell our home quickly after installing a geothermal system, is the cost partly recovered?

Potential buyers often ask about power consumption before deciding to make an offer. The market value of a building is known to increase when a residence is equipped with a geothermal system.

We need to educate real estate agents in order for them to understand the technology so it can be properly explained to buyers.



Case study – new home

Single family home in Montreal’s West Island (2 occupants)

Year of construction: 2012 → NovoClimat construction

Total surface = 3,950 sq ft (368 m²)

Basement = 1,450 sq ft (135 m²)

1st floor = 1,450 sq ft (135 m²)

2nd floor = 610 sq ft (57 m²)

Garage = 440 sq ft (41 m²)

Heating load:

Basement /1st floor/2nd floor = 65,000 BTU/h (19 kW)

Installed capacity = 4.5 tons (1 x 3T water-air & 1 x 1.5T water-water)

Soil = average rock

Vertical closed loop configuration = 640’ (2x 320’) or 195m (2x 97m)

Highlights → Basement & garage with radiant floor heating

Annual electricity operating costs = $1,592 ($18,283 kWh/year)

Annual heating consumption = 10,723 kWh or 29 kWh/m² → 70% less than average

Hydro Québec annual average:

Annual average heating consumption = 93 kWh/m²

Energy for domestic hot water = 1,780 kWh/year per person

Annual average consumption for other appliances = 4,000 kWh/year



Estimated annual bill
$2,050.00 (taxes incl.)
Approximately 22,970 kWh per year

Estimated annual bill
$4,410.00 (taxes incl.)
Approximately 48,120 kWh per year

Estimated annual bill
$2,060.00 (taxes incl.)
Approximately 23,400 kWh per year

Estimated annual bill $2,300.00 (taxes incl.)
Approximately 25,830 kWh per year

Average of the 4 homes on Bellevue Street = $2,705.00 (taxes incl.)

This annual cost is estimated based on the electricity consumption at this address over the past twelve months and the temperature recorded in the region in recent years.

Your future costs may differ from those of current occupants due to various factors, such as number of occupants, heating habits or electrical appliances used.

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