Energy Division

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Frequently Asked Questions


About Geothermal Energy, Installation, and the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Incentive Program (MGEIP)

Note: While the information provided here is intended to correspond with the Program Terms for the MGEIP and the Manitoba Green Equipment Tax Credit, the Grant Application Guide for District Geothermal Systems, the Grant Application Guide for Residential Homeowners, and the Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit Regulation provide the final word on all matters related to these programs.


About Geothermal Energy

What is geothermal energy?

Geothermal energy for geothermal heating systems is obtained from the first few metres of ground cover on the earth. The radiant energy from the sun heats the soil and this heat is held in the earth keeping the first metre of the soil at a stable temperature year-round. As radiant heat from the sun warms lakes and rivers, water will evaporate and then fall back into the ground where it provides a medium for heat transport within the soil.

How is geothermal energy utilized in a geothermal heating system?

To move energy from the ground to a building, or vice versa, a heat-transfer fluid such as antifreeze or water is circulated within a network of collecting pipes in the earth. Energy is exchanged between the fluid and the building by means of a geothermal heat pump.

During the winter, the system uses heat absorbed from the ground below the frost line to warm the air in your home. In the warmer summer months, the process is reversed, absorbing heat from the air in your home and transferring it back into the cooler ground.

It's more efficient to use earth energy than it is to use a combustion furnace. It takes less energy to move heat from one place to another than it does to convert one kind of energy into another, which is what a regular combustion furnace does.

By tapping into the relatively constant temperature of the earth below the frost line, geothermal heat pump technology heats and cools your building at significant savings. A single system can replace separate furnace and air-conditioning units by performing both heating and cooling. The only energy used is the electricity to power the heat pump system.

Geothermal heat pump systems should not be confused with geothermal power generation, which typically uses steam from high temperature subterranean water to generate electricity.

What are the environmental implications?

Geothermal systems do not harm plants or animals other. The fluid is carried in safe high-density polyethylene plastic ground loops and never touches the ground. There is no interaction or leeching into the surrounding soil or groundwater. There is minimal electricity required to run the pump from other energy sources, such as renewable hydro in Manitoba. No fuel is burnt, no pollution created, and no waste-water is produced.

How are geothermal energy systems different than traditional furnace systems?

Unlike combustion furnace systems, geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuel to generate heat. It simply transfers heat to and from the earth to provide an efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly method of heating and cooling. Typically the unit’s fan, compressor and pump is operated by minimal external electric power.

In what other ways can geothermal energy be utilized?

In addition to homes and offices, geothermal heating systems can be used to heat commercial greenhouses, spas, fish farms, food processing facilities, mining operations and so forth.

Some geothermal heat pumps can provide all your hot water needs on demand at the same high efficiencies as the heating/cooling cycles. A desuperheater will heat water before it enters your hot water tank and can be added to most heat pumps, which provides significant savings.

Why use geothermal?

There are many reasons to install geothermal. Geothermal is the most efficient and environmentally responsible way to heat and cool buildings. In addition to reducing your ecological footprint and getting better value for your home heating dollars, you will enjoy these benefits:

  • Efficiency & Lower Operating Costs - Geothermal heat pump systems use the earth's thermal properties to operate more efficiently than conventional heating and air conditioning systems. They save money and provide an annual energy savings for homeowners ranging from 30% to 70% in heating mode and 20% to 50% in the cooling mode compared to conventional systems.
  • Longest Equipment Life - Geothermal heat pumps are durable and require little maintenance. According to studies completed by the Government of Canada, geothermal systems last 20% longer and have lowest life cycle cost when compared to conventional furnace and air conditioning systems. Ground loops can stay functional and intact for over 50 years.
  • Environmentally Responsible Green Technology - Geothermal systems eliminate the combustion of fossil fuels on site and therefore significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses and environmental damage.
  • Comfort - Geothermal systems use the relatively stable temperature of the earth as an energy source and provide constant even temperature and humidity regardless of the weather.
  • Flexibility - Geothermal systems can provide forced-air heating, radiant in-floor heating, domestic hot water, and air conditioning all from the same unit and require only one-third the space of traditional HVAC systems.
  • Quieter Operation & Better Aesthetics - Neither outside air conditioning equipment nor chimney is required. No exposed outdoor equipment means fewer malfunctions due to rust, decay from the elements or vandalism. Geothermal heat pumps are quiet and discreet.
  • Healthy Indoor Air Quality - Eliminates carbon monoxide leak risks and cost of carbon monoxide detectors in new residential construction. Eliminates need for exterior wall venting, which improves building envelope and weather tightness.
  • Safety - No flame, no flue, no odors, no risk from carbon monoxide. Simply safe and reliable operation.


About Installing a Geothermal System

Types of Geothermal heating systems

There are two common types of geothermal loop systems:

  • Closed loop fields – A heat transfer fluid is circulated through buried or submerged pipes to the heat pump. The fluid, which may be antifreeze or similar chemicals, never leaves the loop. These loops can be installed horizontally in an easily excavated high-moisture field or in vertical loop configuration in smaller areas using several boreholes. If your house is near a lake, pond or river, you may be eligible for a lake loop. This is a closed loop which is anchored to the bottom of a consistent depth open water source to transfer heat the same way buried closed loops do.

  • Open loop fields – Water is pulled from a water source, such as a domestic water well, into the heat pump where only a small amount of heat is extracted or absorbed then returned to a second well on the property. Mineral content of the water is a consideration in this type of loop as minerals can solidify and build up to block the loops.

What are the components of a geothermal system?

The exact design of each geothermal system is unique to the needs of the building. Each system typically includes three main components: a heat pump unit, loops for exchanging or circulating fluid and the air- or water-delivery system such as ductwork or a hydronic tubing system for in-floor heat.

Costs of installing a system versus savings

Savings can be up to approximately 50% to 70% off your heating bill every year. Total amount of savings will depend on the system selected, your energy requirements, weather sealing of your home, as well as the type of furnace system replaced.

How long will it take me to start seeing the benefits of the energy savings?

You can experience the benefits immediately upon use and this includes comfort through even heating and cooling. To determine the economic benefits ask your certified MGEA Installer to identify how much money you could save each year on your energy bill when compared to operating a conventional furnace and air conditioning system. 

For example if you will save $800 a year in energy costs related to the heating and cooling of your building, in simple terms you could then save $8,000 over ten years. Keep in mind that a geothermal heat pump system that delivers higher efficiency may save you even more.

How much space do I need for a system?

The amount of space required depends on many considerations. Your contractor can work with you to assess your property and determine the best course of action. Some considerations include:

  • Heating requirements of your home;
  • Depth of bedrock;
  • Amount of space for loop system;
  • Access for drilling equipment;
  • Drilling conditions;
  • Physical barriers such as sewers or water lines and above or below ground cables such as telephone wires or hydro lines.

Is landscaping required after installing a system?

Yes, but the amount of landscaping required depends on the system that has been installed and the extent of excavation. Vertical systems will disturb less soil by using boreholes compared to horizontal systems which will excavate a much larger area of ground cover. Discuss your landscaping considerations with your contractor prior to designing your system.

Are geothermal systems for new build homes only?

No, geothermal installations are not limited to only new build homes. However, it is easier and more cost-effective to work a geothermal system into the building of a new home, as the foundation is being excavated at the same time, but older homes can be retrofitted to add a geothermal system.

It is important to note that the MGEIP residential grant is only available for new homes, however the Manitoba Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit applies to both new and renovation installations.

Can I convert my current furnace?

It is possible to add a “split-system heat pump” to your current furnace. In extremely cold weather dual-fuel systems can use a heat pump as the primary heating source and a conventional furnace to provide supplementary heat as needed.

Can I use a geothermal heating system with hot water space/hydronic heaters?

Yes, it is possible to obtain geothermal heat pumps that produce hot and chilled water, rather than hot and cold air. Talk to your contractor to determine if this system will work for your building.

How long do systems last and what maintenance is required?

The ground loops can last 50+ years and the mechanical components such as heat pumps can last 20 to 24 years with regular maintenance. Some basic maintenance is required; but this is no more maintenance than needed by a conventional furnace and the all-in-one heating and cooling heat pump means that you do not need to maintain two separate systems.

What are considerations when deciding which system to use?

Consider the following guidelines when shopping for a system:

Ratings and Certification: Look for equipment that is certified by the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), that rates the performance of heating and cooling equipment. Certified equipment carries the AHRI seal. For more information on product certification, please see the sample AHRI Certificate of Product Performance at www.manitobaenergy.ca.

Warrantees: Manufacturers’ terms of warranty vary. To assure a high-quality installation, seek a performance guarantee on the installed system and the labour, as opposed to coverage limited to the heat pump itself.

Sizing: Geothermal systems that are too large waste energy and do not provide proper humidity control. Check to see that the contractor carefully determines your home’s heating and cooling requirements using accepted procedures, such as those recommended by the Air Conditioning Contractors Association. The actual size of the system should be within 15 percent of the calculated load. Your contractor can work with you to determine the proper size system for your needs.

System Design: Always use experienced and accredited/certified contractors. The contractor should carefully:

  • Select the size and load of the heat pump,
  • Select the size and design of the ground loop,
  • Select the type of fluid that will circulate through it,
  • Examine ways to use the system to provide hot water.
  • Check the weather fastness of your home for energy loss which may affect the system requirements (if renovating),
  • Examine the existing ductwork or design.

The more through your contractor is in minimizing heat loss the less expensive the system will be and the more efficient it will run.

Who can install the system?

Expertise and skill are needed to install a geothermal system. It is not a do-it-yourself project. Those considering installing a geothermal system should look for accredited/certified installers who have experience, check their references and ask to see systems they have installed. It is important to get a detailed site-specific survey of ground conditions before proceeding with geothermal installation.

A accredited/certified contractor will perform a heat loss calculation and will design a geothermal system that is the appropriate size for your building. Correct system size is critical to achieving maximum efficiency.

The Manitoba Geothermal Energy Incentive Program (MGEIP) requires that your geothermal system is installed by a Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance (MGEA) accredited/certified installer. For a complete and current listing or MGEA accredited/certified installers, please visit the MGEA website at: www.mgea.ca.

How do I know if it is right for my home or business?

To help answer this question, you could consider the following:

Cost/Benefit
Geothermal systems require a larger upfront capital investment compared to most conventional heating and cooling systems (e.g. natural gas furnace and electric air conditioning). However, in return this investment can reduce your annual heating costs by up 70 per cent if you are using oil or electricity resistance or as much as up to 80 per cent when switching from propane.

Installation Requirements
Geothermal can be installed in both new and existing buildings. Often the best time to install geothermal is when building a new home or when replacing the heating and/or cooling system of your building. New buildings usually have fewer physical barriers so installation can more streamlined and cost-effective.

Your accredited/certified MGEA installer can advise of best possible options to provide a cost-effective and optimized geothermal system for your home or building.


About the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Initiative Program (MGEIP)

What is MGEIP?

The Government of Manitoba is offering incentives to encourage the use of geothermal heating and to support Manitoba's geothermal industry.

The Manitoba Geothermal Energy Incentive Program (MGEIP) consists of incentive grants and tax credits.

This includes a residential grant for geothermal systems installed in EXISTING AND NEW HOMES in areas serviced by natural gas; and a DISTRICT GEOTHERMAL GRANT for geothermal systems serving three or more buildings. The grants are complementary with the Manitoba Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit.

Grant Incentives:

  • A provincial grant of $2600 for existing and new homes in natural gas service areas that install an eligible geothermal system, where the installation is completed after June 30, 2011. New homes in natural gas service areas that install an eligible geothermal system from January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011 qualify for a grant of $1000.
  • District/Community Geothermal Systems that serve several buildings are eligible for a provincial grant up to a maximum of $150,000; and can also receive Manitoba tax credits up to 15%.

Tax Credits:

Property owners who install a geothermal heat pump system can receive a Manitoba Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit.

As of April 13, 2011, an enhanced Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit is available as follows:

  • A 15% tax credit on the eligible cost of the geothermal system excluding the heat pump, if installed by a accredited/certified installer of the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance.
  • A 7.5% tax credit for the purchaser of geothermal heat pumps that are manufactured in Manitoba, for use in Manitoba.
  • A further 7.5% tax credit is provided to manufacturers on the sale of heat pumps that are made in Manitoba, and sold for use in Manitoba.

The tax credit can be claimed through the income tax system either on the individual T1 income tax return or the corporate T2 income tax return.

For existing and new homes, the Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit, which is worth about $2,400, combined with the residential incentive grant of $2,600 for homes in natural gas serviced areas, provides Manitobans about $5,000 of incentives for eligible geothermal installations.

Why is the province supportive of geothermal energy?

Manitoba is supporting geothermal to help home owners save on their energy costs; to reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels like natural gas, which must be imported from outside the province; to support a growing local geothermal industry; and to reduce the province’s green house gas (GHG) emissions.

Given Manitoba’s extreme weather conditions, to heat and cool buildings in Manitoba is very energy intensive. For the most part, current heating and cooling in Manitoba is either electric or natural gas.

The combustion of fossil fuels (e.g. natural gas) for home heating emits greenhouse gases which contribute to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere through a process known as the greenhouse effect. In Manitoba annual average temperatures are projected to rise 3°C to 4°C by 2080. Even this small change in temperature could significantly affect agriculture, boreal forest ecosystems, forest fires and annual flooding in the Red River Valley.

Heating and cooling with geothermal significantly reduces the amount of GHGs entering the atmosphere. By installing a geothermal system an average single-family home can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4-6 tonnes annually. This makes geothermal one of the largest single emission reduction options available to Manitobans.

Who is eligible for MGEIP?

To be eligible for the MGEIP, you have to fulfill program terms. For a list of all program requirements, please refer to the Grant Application Guide and Form for Residential Homeowners, the Grant Application Guide for District Geothermal Systems, the Grant Application Guide for Residential Homeowners, and the Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit at the Manitoba Energy at www.manitobaenergy.ca.

What is the difference between MGEIP grants and Manitoba Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit?

The Manitoba Geothermal Energy Incentive Grants are one time grants payable to eligible applicants who have installed geothermal systems after January 1, 2009. Applications for the grants should be submitted to the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Incentive Program.

The Manitoba Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit is refundable tax credit available to manufacturers of geothermal equipment and individuals and corporations who have installed a geothermal system. The tax credits can be claimed through the income tax system on your T1 or T2 tax return forms. The credits are retroactive to April 4, 2007. For full program terms, please refer to the Guides at http://www.manitobaenergy.ca.

The following table compares some of the other difference between the two grants and the tax credit:

 
District Grant
Residential Grant
Green Equipment Tax Credit
Building(s) • Three or more geographically separate buildings;
• served by the same geothermal system,
• situated on a permanent foundation.
AN EXISTING OR NEWsingle detached or attached home,
• within a natural gas service area,
• with individual entrances,
• situated on a permanent foundation,
• where an individual geothermal loop serves only the home.
Includes most building types such as: • New residential, or
• New commercial building(s), or
• An existing building that has been retrofitted with a geothermal heat pump.
Installer Must be accredited/certified by the MGEA.
Must be accredited/certified by the MGEA. Must be accredited/certified by the MGEA.
Date of installation Installation must have been completed after January 1, 2009.

For new homes: Installation must have been completed after January 1, 2009.

For existing homes: Installation must have been completed after June 30, 2011.

Installation must have been completed after April 4, 2007.

For full program terms refer to the Guides at www.manitobaenergy.ca

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Can any HVAC contractor install my geothermal system under MGEIP?

To be eligible to receive either grants or tax credits through the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Incentive Program (MGEIP), the contractor that installs the geothermal system must be accredited/certified by the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance (MGEA) at the time of installation.

Current listings of accredited/certified installers can be found at www.mgea.ca.

I’ve already installed a geothermal heat pump. Am I still eligible for MGEIP funding?

MGEIP funding is available for geothermal systems that have been installed. The following criteria apply:

  • A provincial grant of $2600 for existing and new homes in natural gas service areas may be available where the geothermal installation is completed after June 30, 2011. New homes in natural gas service areas that install an eligible geothermal system from January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011 may qualify for a grant of $1000. Program terms must be fulfilled.
  • The District Incentive Grant is available for eligible district systems installed after January 1, 2009, as long as all program terms are met.
  • The Manitoba Green Energy Tax Credit is available for geothermal systems that have been installed in new or existing homes since April 4, 2007. The refundable tax credit can be claimed on your T1 or T2 income tax return in any year that the system has been used by the applicant, on equipment purchased before 2019.

I’ve installed a geothermal system as part of a renovation to an existing home. Am I eligible for MGEIP?

The Residential Homeowner Grant is available for geothermal installations installed in existing homes within natural gas service areas after June 30, 2011.

The Manitoba Green Energy Tax Credit is available for geothermal systems that have been installed in existing homes since April 4, 2007. The refundable tax credit can be claimed on your T1 or T2 income tax return in any year that the system has been used by the applicant, on equipment purchased before 2019.

I bought a home with a geothermal system, can I apply to MGEIP?

No, unless the home is a newly constructed home that you have been involved in the building process and only if the home has not been claimed already.

If I received a grant and/or tax credit from the Province of Manitoba for my geothermal system can I still apply for other funding that may be available?

Yes. The MGEIP grant does not exempt you from applying for other funding for your system.

Is my cottage or recreational property eligible to receive MGEIP funding?

Any residential property in Manitoba registered in the applicants name is eligible for the Residential Incentive Grant, so long as it meets the other eligibility requirements, namely a permanent foundation and natural gas service which is often problematic with cottages.

Please note that there is only one application allowed per applicant, and you cannot, therefore, apply for an incentive grant for both your home and your cottage or recreational property.

Is my commercial property eligible to receive MGEIP funding?

Yes, if it meets the program guidelines. For commercial buildings, the District Geothermal Grant is available for geothermal installations serving 3 or more buildings completed after January 1, 2009. This can apply to income properties (condos, apartments, townhouses) with 3 or more buildings. Also the Residential Incentive Grant may be available for rental properties such as new homes or townhouses, see MGEIP guide for details.

The Manitoba Green Energy Tax Credit is available for geothermal systems that have been installed in commercial buildings since April 4, 2007. The refundable tax credit can be claimed on your T1 or T2 income tax return in any year that the system has been used by the applicant, on equipment purchased before 2019.

What is the coefficient of performance (COP)? How can I get this documentation?

The coefficient of performance, or COP, is a measure of efficiency. The COP of a geothermal heat pump indicates the amount of energy it takes to produce a given unit of heating or cooling. For example, a geothermal heat pump operating at COP heating 4.0 provides 4.0 units of heat for each unit of energy consumed (e.g. 1 kWh consumed would provide 4.0 kWh of output heat).

In order to qualify for MGEIP incentives, eligible geothermal heat pumps must fulfill minimal coefficient of performance (COP).  See the Program Guides for the minimum required COP.  Note, a higher rated COP indicates a higher efficient heat pump.  

You can obtain your AHRI “Certificate of Product Ratings”, which is a program requirement, immediately by filling in the make and model of your heat pump at http://www.ahridirectory.org/ahridirectory/pages/wbahp/defaultSearch.aspx

For more information please see the Program Guides and AHRI certificate tutorials at www.manitobaenergy.ca

My invoice lists my heat pump without the make and model, is this OK?

No, your invoice must state the make (manufacturer) and model number and clearly have itemized costs for the heat pump and ground loops to be eligible for MGEIP. Please contact your installer for an invoice that states make, model and itemized cost of your system.

How can I find out if I am living in a natural gas serviced area?

Contact your municipality for details.

What kind of proof of payment is required by MGEIP?

The proof of payment of your system can be as simple as including a credit card statement, or an itemized invoice marked paid and signed by the installer. Any of the following combinations is acceptable evidence of payment:

  • a copy of an itemized invoice with a signed statement of payment in full from the vendor; and/or
  • a signed receipt of payment; and/or an itemized invoice along with a processed cheque or
  • financial institution report indicating payment or proof of debit or credit card transaction; and/or
  • an itemized invoice along with a signed loan document from a utility or financial institution;

What is the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance (MGEA)?

The Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance (MGEA) is Manitoba's not-for-profit association of geothermal industry stakeholders which was incorporated in January 2006. MGEA is a membership based organization led by a Board of Directors an Executive Director.

MGEA also manages the accreditation of installers by following an established list of requirements. To qualify for MGEIP, your geothermal installer must be an accredited/certified member in good standing with MGEA at the time of installation. A list of all current members can be found on the MGEA website.

How do I apply for MGEIP?

Manitoba Incentive Grants:

The application form for the MGEIP Grant (Residential and District) is available from the Energy Branch of Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade, located on the 12th floor of 155 Carlton Street, Winnipeg. The most current application form can also be downloaded from www.manitobaenergy.ca and mailed to:

Manitoba Geothermal Energy Incentive Program
Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade
1200-155 Carlton St.
Winnipeg, MB R3C 3H8

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Manitoba Green Energy Equipment Tax Credits:

The Manitoba Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit can be claimed through the income tax system, either on the individual T1 income tax return or the corporate T2 income tax return.

I applied for MGEIP and I was declined for funding, how can I follow-up?

Please review the letter that was sent explaining the decision. The letter will outline steps you can take to resolve the issues. Some applications are declined due to lack of documentation such as an invoice or evidence of payment or AHRI Certificate of Product Rating; in those cases you can easily re-submit your application with the necessary documentation.

In cases where the installer was not accredited/certified, the installation was completed before the program start date or the installation is outside of Manitoba, those applications cannot be re-assessed unless you have additional documentation showing that it does qualify.

Please send all correspondence regarding MGEIP to:

Manitoba Geothermal Energy Incentive Program
Manitoba Energy Division
1200-155 Carlton St.
Winnipeg, MB R3C 3H8

How long does it take to get the incentive if approved by MGEIP?

Currently the estimated time from when the MGEIP application is received to when you receive your funds is approximately 90 days.

Requests for missing documentation may cause delays in receiving funding so it is recommended that you to carefully review your application to avoid unnecessary delays.

Due to the complexity of district applications may take longer than the estimated 90 days.

When is the deadline for MGEIP?

There is no calendar deadline for MGEIP applications, however district applications must be in the sooner of 3 months after commissioning the system or 3 months after the occupancy permit is approved.

Please note, approved projects are funded first-come, first-served, based on the date of approval of a completed application and subject to the availability of program funds.




Also view our Geothermal Terms

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