Geothermal heat pumps have long been considered the most efficient heat and cooling technology on the market today. They provide the highest efficiencies and the lowest operating costs. They can last for decades and are a leader in comfort. Knowing this, one would think that geothermal heat pumps would be the leading HVAC system installed in new buildings today.
Unfortunately, geothermal systems, while extremely efficient and cost effective to operate, require a significant initial investment. The outdoor collector loop, which is not required for any other type of heating system, being the largest cost differentiator.
This higher than average initial cost has made geothermal heat pumps relatively inaccessible for many homeowners who either can’t, or won’t, use their hard earned funds to finance the installation. Over the years, installation costs have decreased, and that, along with government incentives have lowered the initial cost barrier for many geothermal installations.
In recent months, there have been several new developments in the Canadian geothermal industry that have made installing a geo system even more accessible to the average homeowner.
The first development is an initiative by Efficiency Nova Scotia. The non-profit organization aimed at helped Nova Scotians conserve energy announced their partnership with TD Bank earlier this month. Efficiency NS and TD will be offering a zero percent interest loan for up to $15,000 for up to five years. This is great news for the Nova Scotian geothermal industry for many reasons.
First, it will significantly reduce the up-front cost of installing a geothermal system, effectively removing a large barrier to adoption for this technology. Secondly, it will allow homeowners to pay back the loan over a long period of time, spreading the initial cost out over several years. When taking the energy cost savings vs. cost of the loan into account, the homeowner could see overall savings immediately.
This isn’t the only program that has been introduced recently, aimed at making geothermal more accessible. In Ontario, a company called Geothermal Solutions has introduced a new loop leasing option to homeowners.
The program offers lease to own loop solutions to homeowners wishing to install a closed loop system as part of their geothermal installation. With rates as low as $72 per month for a 4 ton horizontal system, this ten year lease to own program makes the installation of a ground loop extremely affordable. Geothermal Solutions is currently offering this program only in Ontario.
While geothermal installations are no doubt gaining in popularity in Canada, there are still many barriers to adoption. These two programs have innovatively changed the typical “high initial cost – high savings” equation that usually governs most geothermal system purchases – hopefully for the better.