Geothermal Heating and Cooling - A Sustainable Way to Save Energy
Find Out Where YOUR Home is Losing Energy:
(By Stu Silverman)
With the cost of fossil fuels on the rise (which in turn increases the cost of electricity) and concern about the environmental impacts of our energy consumption, more people are looking into the practical and economic benefits of geothermal heat pumps for home heating and cooling. A geothermal heat pump system can be used as a heating system AND an air conditioning system, simply by running the system in reverse.
Huge Energy Savings
Using a geothermal heat pump system, you can save 50%-70% of the energy you use to heat your home. And you can save up to 40% on cooling costs, and 25% on water heating costs. With a geothermal heat pump system, there's no need for a separate air conditioning unit. For both heating and cooling, the temperature in your home is controlled with an electronic thermostat, the same as a traditional system.
Geothermal heating and cooling is an environmentally sustainable method of regulating the temperature in your home all year round, as well as providing hot water. It uses the renewable energy within the earth to provide heating and cooling without harmful greenhouse emissions or other pollutants. Geothermal heat pump systems are among the most efficient and environmentally friendly energy systems available.
How Geothermal Heating and Cooling Works
With geothermal heat pump systems, the focus is on "transferring heat" as opposed to "producing heat" like traditional furnaces or boilers do. Geothermal heating uses the heat that resides within the earth (and sometimes masses of water), since underground temperatures remain relatively constant, between 45 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, as little as six feet down.
3 Main Components
There are three main components to a geothermal heating pump system - the ground loop, the heat pump furnace unit, and the heat distribution system. The ground loop is a series of high-density polyethylene pipes that's buried in your yard or placed in a pond or lake. A heat transferring liquid (a mixture of water and anti-freeze) runs through the pipes collecting heat from the ground and returns to the heat pump furnace unit where heat is extracted and distributed to the home via the distribution system (forced air or radiant hydronic heating).
In some cases an "open ground loop" is used, which uses ground water as the heat transferring liquid. Instead of a ground loop, a supply well supplies ground water to the heat pump furnace unit and a discharge well returns the water to the ground.
Cooling in Summer
In the warmer months, the system works in reverse. The heat is transferred from the air in your home to the transfer fluid, and returned to the earth via the ground loop. This generally works only with forced air distribution systems, where the system's air coil takes the place of a traditional air conditioning system's evaporator.
Installing a Geothermal Heat Pump System
Have a certified geothermal heating specialist assess the amount of energy that is needed to heat and cool your home. They will be able to recommend the type of system and the size you need for optimal functioning. Installing a geothermal heat pump system is easier for new homes or for rural homes where there is lots of land to install the ground loop. For existing homes, modifications may be needed for the distribution system, the electrical system or the plumbing. Your geothermal specialist will be able to assess the exact needs for your home.
Regardless of the type of geothermal system you choose, or which part of the country (or the world) you live in, with regular maintenance a geothermal heat pump system will provide an environmentally safe way to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer - with significant energy savings compared to traditional methods.
Home Energy Efficiency Tips:
- General Energy Saving Solutions The Energy Star Program
- Simple Energy Saving Strategies Home Insulation
- Home Assessment Overview Energy Features, Green Your Home
- Energy Efficiency Mortgages & Grants Energy Efficient Mortgage
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