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HVAC Education, Buying Tips, Heat Pumps, Geothermal

Cost of Buying a Geothermal Heat Pump

Buying or replacing a geothermal heat pump can offer substantial long-term energy cost savings and help reduce your carbon footprint. The up-front investment depends on three factors: the type and size of the heat pump needed, and the labor required to install it. The type of system is usually dictated by your home’s lot size, soil conditions, and access to groundwater. Your Carrier expert can help determine the appropriate system and necessary installation.

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How Do Geothermal Heat Pumps Work?

Geothermal heat pumps use pipes, commonly known as loops, that are installed underground or underwater. They are filled with liquid that pulls heat from the soil or water and transfers it into your home.

There are two types of loops, closed and open. A closed loop circulates refrigerant through underground pipes that are fully connected without any openings. An open loop, also known as a well-water loop, recirculates water through underground wells and often flows into a pond or lake.

How are Geothermal Heat Pumps Installed?

There are three types of closed-loop systems:

  • A horizontal loop is placed in trenches six feet underground and is used in homes with larger lot sizes so there is room to spread them out.
  • A vertical loop is placed in a hole up to 400 feet deep and is used in homes with smaller lot sizes that may not be able to accommodate a horizontal loop.
  • A pond loop is placed in a natural body of water, 10 or more feet below the surface.

An open-loop system is one that uses water from the ground, a well, or a lake as the liquid inside the pipes.

Installation of geothermal loops, especially open loops and lake closed loops, may require zoning approval from state, local, or federal agencies. So it’s important to work with an expert who is knowledgeable about regulations in your area.

A geothermal heat pump, including installation, can range from $12,000 to $45,000. Your Carrier expert can help determine the exact cost based on your unique situation.

What is Included in the Installation Cost for a Geothermal Heat Pump?

Labor can account for the majority of installation costs, as qualified technicians are required. Other factors include:

  • Geographical location—labor costs vary across the United States
  • Type of loop you are installing—vertical, horizontal, lake, or open loops each have unique requirements for excavation and laying the pipes
  • Soil composition—professional testing is required to determine if the soil needs to be treated to better transfer heat
  • Local regulations—some locations may require permits for installing a geothermal loop
  • Size of your home and the system—this determines the length of looping needed to adequately heat or cool your home
  • Existing HVAC system—installing a geothermal system may require new or additional ductwork
  • Labor—most installers send two-person teams; a bigger project may require a larger team
  • Landscaping—your yard will need to be landscaped after digging to place the loops, and you may have to move or remove inground sprinkler systems

A well-maintained heat pump unit has a lifespan of 20 or more years, while the underground loops can last up to 25–50 years (or sometimes longer), so installation costs are an investment in your comfort for years to come.

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