Home Green Homes Guide Understanding geothermal energy and how it benefits homeowners

Understanding geothermal energy and how it benefits homeowners

by DrPrem Jagyasi
geothermal-energy

The earth captures the sun’s heat (47% of it), which falls on it’s surface. Outdoor atmospheric temperature fluctuates all round the year, but the temperature 4-6 ft underground remains constant and moderate throughout the year. This heat which is also stored in underground hot water reservoirs is a geothermal resource that is used to generate geothermal energy, cooling and heating, direct use etc. Deep wells, at least a mile long, are dug to the underground reservoirs to access and use the hot water. Homeowners whose homes are above or near such hot water reservoirs can install geothermal units to gain the benefit of a natural cooling and heating system, which is more environment friendly than HVAC systems spewing gases into the atmosphere. Let’s take a look at the benefits of a geothermal system for homeowners:

Geothermal pump types 

Closed loop

geothermal-energy

In this system, an antifreeze is passed through tubing which is underwater or underground. The system can be horizontal or vertical. Once the antifreeze reaches the home, the heat exchanger moves the heat between antifreeze and a liquid inside a heat pump. The heat then is passed throughout the building through radiant heating or ductwork. Horizontal systems are cheaper than vertical ones.

If there is a lake or pond nearby, closed loop systems cost less.

Open loop

Open loop systems require a well or surface water. Water is transferred from its source via heat exchangers through the house and sent back to the source.

Hybrid

In certain cases, geothermal systems are combined. Sometimes, geothermal heating systems work in tandem with air sources. Hybrid systems are used in locations where cooling is the major requirement.

Advantages of geothermal system

geothermal-energy

Some homewoners shy away from installing geothermal pumps in their homes due to the drilling and digging involved. These pumps have to be installed by experts, which adds to the cost. But installing a geothermal unit may actually be a good investment. Let’ see why:

Reduced energy costs

The DOE reckons that geothermal systems reduce energy use by approx 25-50% as compared to a HVAC system. This means that a geothermal system can save you a lot of money over the years. A 2000sq. ft home can be cooled or heated for just one dollar a day.

Durable

The lifespan of geothermal pumps is 20 years, and the lifespan of the infrastructure under the ground ranges from 25-50 years. Maintenance and repair costs are also low, because the tubing and pipes are underground, and thus protected from all kinds of weather.

Safe

Unlike HVAC systems, geothermal systems do not require any combustion or gas to cool or heat the house. This makes geothermal units much safer than HVAC systems.

Environmentally friendly

geothermal-energy

Pumps do require electricity, but there are no greenhouse emissions which are released into the atmosphere, which makes these units eco friendly. According to the EPA, geothermal systems are the most eco friendly and cost-effective cooling and heating systems. Installing a geothermal system is equal to planting seven hundred and fifty trees.

Hot water for free

Geothermal systems can provide all the hot water that a home requires for free. All it requires is a connection to the water heater, into which the hot water will be delivered. The heat removed during cooling can be deposited to the heater which provides hot water almost for free.

Gives an extra cash flow

Geothermal systems cost more in installation but the system can be paid for through low-interest scheme. The savings gained every month due to the lower utility and maintenance bills, frees up more cash for homeowners. Typically, a system usually covers the installation cost in a duration of 3-5 years.

Better comfort

Geothermal units cool and heat homes in an even manner, so the temperature of homes are quite comfortable. Geothermal units dehumidify air too, during the hot and humid summer months, which is another point in their favor.

Silent

Geothermal systems operate along the same lines as a freezer or refrigerator, so the geothermal units are just as quiet.

Geothermal systems are safe, eco friendly, and pay for the installing cost in utility bill savings. If you have sufficient space, you can install a geothermal unit in your basement and enjoy the many benefits of an eco friendly cooling and heating system.