Propane vs. Geothermal

Propane or Geothermal for Your Home: What You Should Know

A ground source (geothermal) heat pump is often touted as an ultra-green choice for homeowners, but how does this type of system compare to a high efficiency propane furnace?

While it’s true that geothermal heating provides exceptionally low energy costs because it draws thermal energy from underground, it has much higher upfront installation costs than a propane furnace.

The installation process for a geothermal system is also a lot more complicated. These systems require wells or “loop fields” to extract heating energy from the ground. Higher heating or cooling loads may require deeper wells, more wells, or more trenches in limited spaces.

In contrast, propane furnaces can be installed easily—usually in just one day—in basements, attics, closets and other areas of a home.

The Comfort Factor

Perhaps the biggest drawback to a geothermal system is its inability to deliver the same warm, comfortable heat that today’s propane furnaces consistently provide.

A typical standalone geothermal system delivers heat in the 90–120 degree range. This can leave your home feeling uncomfortably chilly on a cold Michigan night. Propane heating systems consistently deliver heat in the 120–140 degree range, even when the outdoor temperature drops below zero degrees.

The Cost Factor

  1. Because it involves digging, installing and burying ground loops, geothermal represents the highest installation cost of any heating system studied.*
  2. Geothermal has the longest payback period of any heating system—up to 15 years in some cases.*
  3. A high-efficiency propane furnace is the most affordable to purchase and install of all the heating systems studied. Because propane is a clean, efficient energy source, you can count on affordable annual energy costs as well.*

*Source: Based on a study conducted by Newport Partners, LLC