Geothermal Comfort System vs. Traditional Heating and Cooling

The largest draw to a Geothermal system when compared to any traditional heating and cooling system is a potential savings of 55 – 65% on heating and cooling costs each month. These savings, when multiplied over 12 months, will add up to a significant yearly savings. This yearly savings will add up to the difference between a geothermal comfort system and any traditional system.

In this section we will look at the two most common ways people compare geothermal heating and cooling and traditional heating and cooling: Cash Flow and Pay Back.

Cash Flow

Here’s an example of why a geothermal system is truly the least expensive system to own. Starting with a basic geothermal system investment, let’s look at the cash flow for each system.

For example, for a customer living in Harford County replacing their existing HVAC unit with a 4 ton vertical unit:

Before tax value


30% Federal Tax Rebate

$ 7,800.00

Maryland (Resident) Rebate ($500/ton $1,000max)

$ 3,000.00

County Rebate (see county info for rebate amount – may be more or less depending on the county)

$ 2,500.00

Final after tax Amount


The cost for a conventional heating and cooling system, in a similar sized house, would be $8,500

Taking advantage of Ground Loops ‘no payments for 12 months’ (which will give us time to get back our Federal Rebate), we will finance the balance for 10 years at 6%. An average payment for this scenario would be roughly $200.00 per month.

Let’s say a house of this size uses approximately $3,000 per year in total utility costs. Since HVAC costs typically account for 65 – 75% of a utility bill you could see an average savings of $150.00 per month. Therefore, after we pay $200.00 per month (and save $150.00 in utility costs), we have installed a brand new highly efficient geothermal heating and cooling system for a net of $50.00 per month. Compare that to a conventional heating and cooling system, which when financed similarly, would cost you approximately $75.00 per month. These figures prove that a geothermal system does give you the most comfort, the most efficiency, and the quietest operation, for the least amount of money!

Pay Back

Most people, when comparing geothermal, want to calculate a pay back. So your $26,000 geothermal system minus rebates ($13,300.00 as per the calculation for a Harford County resident) is $12,700.00.

The problem with calculating a pay back is that a geothermal system will retain almost 1/2 of its initial value, and a conventional system retains none. This means that on your $26,000 system almost $12,000 of that is retained in your underground loop which will last at least the next 3-4 replacements. So, apply $3,000 to each of the next 3 replacements, which will turn your $26,000 into a $17,000 system. (i.e. $26,000 – 12,000 + 3,000). Apply the rebates, $13,300, and the Geothermal system only costs $3,700.00.

The calculations above are not of an actual customer, and are an estimated cost, but they are very reasonable. All homes vary in electric usage, size of system required, and amount of annual savings. Even though we cannot guarantee a specific amount of savings, a 60% decrease is a very realistic number. Also any tax rebates are specific to your individual system. It is recommended that any potential customer receive an energy audit to evaluate how “energy friendly” your home is, because no matter what type of system is installed, the best and most cost effective way to save energy is to keep your home tight and well insulated.

The best way to evaluate your specific situation to is to contact a member of the Ground Loop team, and we can “crunch the numbers” just as we have done above. For other specific calculations of savings please see the geothermal savings calculator. This allows you to pick your residential area, type of heat/air conditioning you currently use, and how many residents live in your home. It will then show you the amount you would be saving by making the switch!

Operating Costs

We all know not only is geothermal heating and air conditioning better for the environment, but it also saves you a lot of money on your energy bill. You can take a look at Water Furnaces’ Envision equipment here, which we recommend, since it has the highest efficiency rating of ANY geothermal unit. The operating costs are also the least expensive of any heating and cooling method. First and foremost your geothermal system also replaces the need for any oil, propane, or natural gas. The next area of savings comes from the longevity of your filters. A traditional system recommends replacement of filters once a month; a geothermal system is typically replaced once a year.

Once you take a good look at geothermal it becomes clear; whether you look at the first month or the next 25 years, geothermal is without a doubt the most inexpensive heating and cooling system to install, operate, and maintain.