Live Well

Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems

Table of Contents

  1. Intro
  2. How Does a Geothermal System Work?
  3. What Are the Basic Components?
  4. Will This System Really Produce a Comfortable Living Temperature?
  5. What Are the Benefits of Geothermal?
  6. Our Thoughts

 

Introduction to Geothermal Systems

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are the most energy efficient and environmentally safe systems used today. In fact, geothermal systems can reduce heating and cooling costs for a homeowner by almost 50%. That number will only continue to grow as long as the cost of fuel, especially oil, continues to increase.

The average household spends close to 4% of its gross income on energy to heat or cool the home. With a geothermal system, you as a homeowner will significantly lower your annual energy costs. The only problem you will have is deciding what to do with the extra money you will have saved. Bahamas, anyone?

 

How Does a Geothermal System Work?

Basically, instead of burning fuel to make heat, a geothermal system simply moves heat that already exists. The earth is able to maintain a relatively constant temperature. This combined with the earth's ability to absorb almost 50% of all solar energy is what the geothermal systems draws its heat from. The Geothermal system extracts BTUs from the ground and pumps the heat throughout your home by means of an electric heat pump. When the system is cooling your home, the opposite happens. BTUs are extracted from your home and pushed back into the earth, just like how a refrigerator operates.

A loop (piping) system is installed into the ground. There are many different configurations for these loops depending on the need and types of systems. A liquid (often times is water) flows through the ground loops and extracts the heat from the earth. This water can come from a well, a stream or pond, if available.

 

What Are the Basic Components?

There are basically four main components to the Geothermal heating system. They are:

  • A heat pump
  • Heat exchanger - fluid (water)
  • A ground loop
  • Air delivery system (ductwork)

 

Will This System Really Produce a Comfortable Living Temperature?

Yes. In fact, the geothermal systems move a higher volume of air than conventional heating / cooling systems. Therefore there are no hot or cold spots typically found with fossil fuel furnaces.

 

What Are the Benefits of Geothermal?

Where to begin? Well let's start with the obvious, savings.

Because you use the earth's constant temperature and our cheapest and most abundant resource, water, to heat and cool your home, you are not spending money on fossil fuels for combustible systems. As mentioned above, the cost of heating your home is rapidly increasing. Fuel prices are through the roof. This probably will continue for years to come. A geothermal system for a home that is well built, insulated well, and meets Energy Star criteria - in other words, an Erik's Design-Build home - will probably save you up to about 50% on energy costs, and that number may even be higher.

Low Maintenance - There are fewer mechanical components than conventional systems. Therefore, a geothermal system is more reliable and less prone to failure. In fact, the ground loops generally have an expected life span of 50 years or more. The heat pump only requires a changing of its filters every so often. There is NO ANNUAL CLEANING OF THE FURNACE REQUIRED.

Safety - Geothermal systems do not require the combustion of some type of fossil fuel. So there are no pilot lights, open flames or combustible gases (carbon monoxide) for you to worry about endangering your family.

Healthier - Since geoexchange systems do not rely on outside air, they keep indoor air cleaner and free of pollens, mold spores and other allergens. The air is not superheated which means that the air is not as dry as air produced from combustion. Humidity levels are safer. Your skin will be healthier, especially during the cold seasons.

Environmentally Friendly - Now if you really care about the future of the planet and the well- being of your children and their children years from now, then this is the heating and cooling system for your home. First, you are conserving our natural resources that are becoming more scarce with every passing year. Second, Geothermal systems do not produce harmful pollutants to our environment. Therefore, you, as a home owner are helping to minimize environmental problems such as acid rain, air pollution and the destruction of the ozone layer. Finally, there are no noisy exposed outside units. Your neighbors will thank you. The Geothermal system operates quietly. Your family will thank you.

Additional Benefits - Geothermal systems have the capability to provide free hot water at a substantial savings.

 

Our Thoughts

We at Erik's Design-Build Associates believe very strongly in building homes that are healthy for you and your family to live in, and are environmentally effective as well. We also genuinely enjoy seeing our customers accrue savings by building homes designed for energy efficiency. This is the direction home building must follow.

Buying a home is an investment. Make your investment pay off for you.

Visit these websites for more information:

www.geoexchange.com

www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/homeowner_link.html

www.hydroheat.com

www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=geo_heat.pr_geo_heat_pumps