Geothermal Energy – Heating, Cooling and Ground Source Power
Geothermal energy is one of the least expensive sources of renewable energy. It is much cheaper than solar energy, can be used on small scale in residential applications for heating and cooling, as well as on major industrial scale to produce clean electricity. Geothermal energy is abundant and works year round with very little maintenance, and in any climate.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling:
Geothermal energy will work year round – no matter if it’s hot or cold outside, if its sunny, raining or snowing your geothermal system will supply comfortable heat or cold. Geothermal systems require minimal maintenance and are designed to work for decades. Geothermal heating and cooling systems can work for a single family home as well as for large apartment buildings. They can supply hot or cold air as well as hot water. And the beautiful thin is that operating costs of a geothermal heating and cooling system are only about 25% of an electric heat and air-conditioning, or about 35% of gas or oil heating systems.
Geothermal heating and cooling systems use the principle of heat pump to extract the geothermal energy and use it for heating and cooling of your home. Learn how geothermal heating and cooling works.
Geothermal energy can also be used to produce clean electricity, enough to power thousands of home and businesses. Geothermal power plants can be build anywhere and will not use any fossil fuels such as gas, oil or coal, and will not pollute the air. Geothermal power is also much safer than nuclear power and there is now need to worry about used nuclear fuel, after it has been depleted. Learn how geothermal power plant works.
Geothermal Heat Pumps:
Geothermal heat pump works on a principle of gas compression / decompression cycle, when either cold or heat is emitted. When refrigerant gas is compressed it produces cold, and as it decompresses, heat is emitted. A heat pump can circulate the refrigerant in either direction to produce either heat or cold – whichever is needed at the moment. By adding the constant supply of energy from the ground source, a geothermal heat pump increase the efficiency of a cooling or heating system by 100%, and reduces the operating cost by 50%. The excessive heat or cold is then sent back into the ground, where it dissipates in the ground thermal mass. Geothermal heat pumps are very efficient and require little electric power to operate – electricity is used to run the compressor, a fan and a water pump to circulate heat exchange liquid through ground source heat exchanger. Learn more about geothermal heat pump.
Geothermal and solar PV systems: 100% green energy for your home
Because a geothermal heating and cooling system does not require much electric power to operate, it can be powered by a relatively small solar PV system. When you combine a geothermal heating and cooling system with enough solar panels to operate the heat pump, a fan and a water pump, you can achieve a 100% green energy system and turn your house into a net zero energy home. If you live off-grid, you can store extra solar electricity in the back-up batteries, for when there is no sun, and have a back-up heating system running on propane. If your house is grid-tied, you won’t even need to worry about back-up power – at night your geothermal system will run on grid electricity, while during the day, excess solar power will be sent back to the grid. Learn more about Geothermal and Solar PV hybrid systems.
You may ask yourself – if geothermal is so great, why is it not installed everywhere? The main reason for it, is high initial cost to install a geothermal heating and cooling system. There is a lot of variables involved in specifying, calculating and installing an adequate geothermal system. There is also a very expensive digging or drilling process. Between laying the heat exchanger, connecting all the piping to the heat pump, installing ducts system (if not already installed), and making sure everything works efficiently, you can expect to pay as much as $40,000 to install a new geothermal heating / cooling system.
The geothermal system size must be calculated precisely, so that after installation you do not find out that your system is undersized, or there is not enough loops of heat exchanger, or it is not installed deep enough, etc.
Additionally, you need to hire professional geothermal contractor, who knows how to calculate your system size correctly, knows how to tune the heat pump equipment for optimal performance, how deep to lay the heat exchanger, whether you should dig or drill into the ground, etc. Your regular HVAC specialist will not be able to correctly install a geothermal system without proper training and experience. All these factors affect the cost of installing geothermal heating and cooling, and will make a big difference on when you can expect your system to pay for itself. Learn more about geothermal prices, ROI and payback period.