Tips for Understanding Geothermal Heating
Most homeowners are aware of energy saving ratings that make appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, Akams Heating & Plumbing and air conditioners more appealing to purchase. After all, when you replace an outdated appliance with an energy efficient model, it doesn’t take very long to get your investment back when you take into consideration lower utility bills and government rebates. Taking that step further, there’s a kind of energy, stored in the earth, that fuels the home – geothermal heating.
Some of the first forms of geothermal heating were the hot spring bathhouses from as early as the 3rd century B.C. A more modern version of geothermal heating came to fruition in the 1940’s with the advent of the heat pump that could take this natural resource and turn it into a usable convenience. Here are some tips on how we use geothermal heating in homes today:
A Constant Resource
In all sorts of climates around the world, there is a natural and constant temperature in the earth’s surface ranging from 10°C to 25°C twelve months of the year. In the winter, the earth’s undersurface is warmer than the air above the surface. In the summer, the ground is cooler. To reach this temperature you must drill down below the frost line so that the geothermal heat pumps can use the core warmth to heat the house and warm the water.
Works Like a Conventional Furnace
An interesting thing about geothermal heating is that it operates in much the same way as a conventional furnace. The house uses ductwork and air return but instead of gas or electricity, the fuel source is the earth. Even when geothermal energy is used to cool the house, the warm air is sent through the heat pump either back into the ground or even better to heat a hot water tank.
Electricity Powers the Heat Pump
Electricity is used to power the heat pump that carries a combination of water and refrigerant through the cycle between the house and under the ground. Some geothermal heating systems use a closed loop system, which means that the fluid stays contained within the system and simply does ‘laps’. Most houses use a horizontal loop system that runs horizontally under the surface of the earth, but not as deep into the earth. In commercial buildings or apartments, a vertical system is used which is more expensive because it protrudes deeper into the earth.
Savings Are Real
Because they are more unique and specialized, a geothermal heating system will cost more to implement than replacing a standard furnace. On the other hand, homeowners should expect to save up to 70% on their utility bills. Moreover, once the system is in place, it’s virtually maintenance free, and the heat pumps have a life expectancy of 20+ years. Combined with tax credits for implementing a geothermal heating system, making the change is very financially worthwhile.
In a weird way geothermal heating is an old, yet new technology. The more people that decide to harness the earth’s natural resources for their home’s energy, the more services that will pop up and the lower the prices will become – a win-win situation.