Should I replace my geothermal system with a gas boiler?

Lawrence Brusnyk
Updated: Aug. 2, 2020

I have an energy efficient 2,000 sq ft bungalow located on acreage just east of Edmonton.  The house was built in 2007 and received the Green Vision Award for Alberta that year.  Features include ICF walls basement to roof, infloor heating in basement, geothermal heating (closed loop, 6 wells 200 ft deep), triple E argon windows, R50 attic insulation, etc.

However, the coax coil in the geothermal system has rusted out which I understand the system need to be replaced.  It also did not help that the unit, an Altlas Essentials? was made by a company that has long gone out of business and the installer was suspect from the get go.  I currently do not have heat in the basement, and was informed by the heating guy that he could not recharge the system (which I had done twice before with some success) more than once otherwise his ticket would be revoked.

To make a long story short, I will be presented with several cost options over the next few days which will include installing a new geothermal unit (ClimateMaster recommended although this assumes it's the unit and not a leak in the closed loop system, also I assume newer technology mean greater efficiency, problem is that it is American made and will take 6 - 8 weeks to arrive), gas furnace (I have gas to the house since my wife wanted a gas stove, a gas fire place and a gas barbque), or a natural gas boiler/electric furnace option (for radiant infloor heat in the basement and forced air heat on the main floor. 

I met with the plumber and the heating guys 2 days ago and have been trying to sort out what the best approach is.  All my previous research (when the house was cosntructed in 2007) indicated that geothermal has higher upfront costs but over the long term, these costs would be offset by lower monthly bills (ROI ~10 years) and that the replacement cycle would be in the 15 to 20 plus years.  Unfortunately, this has not occurred.  While my monthly gas bill pretty much reflects distribution charges ($60/month), my power bill averages $315/mo (2,200 kwh/mont, could this be a power quality issue since I live on an acreage?) year round.  I am currently looking at replacing something after 11.5 years which is certainily frustrating.  

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


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