Taking Advantage of Geothermal Energy at Home
Right in your back yard (and front yard) there is a free energy source that can be used to heat and air condition you r home. This energy source is called geothermal energy and it’s been used throughout the United States as a renewable energy source for heat pumps in homes and buildings.
Although the first geothermal heat pump was developed in the 1940, they started gaining popularity in the 1970's and their use has been growing since. According to energy.gov, there are 50,000 geothermal heat pump installations every year in the United States. They are becoming a reliable and cost effective way to heat and condition your home.
The Concept of Using Geothermal Energy
The concept of using geothermal energy consists of taking advantage of relatively constant temperature of the ground (between 50F - 60F). The ground temperature remains constant while the climate above the ground changes throughout the year. This means that during the summer the ground can be used to absorb heat from heat pumps and during the winter the ground can be used to add heat to from heat pumps inside your home.
How Geothermal Heat Pumps Work
A series of pipes, called a loop, is buried below the surface of the ground. The pipes contain a fluid inside, called a refrigerant, which is used as the heat transfer medium between the ground outside the house and the heat pump inside the house. The refrigerant circulates through the pipe loop and either carries heat into the home or out of the home, depending on whether the home needs to be heated or cooled.
During the summer, the refrigerant picks up heat from the home and rejects this heat into the ground. As heat is absorbed by the ground, the refrigerant cools down to the ground temperature (around 55 F). This cooled refrigerant goes back to the heat pumps where it is used to cool the air that conditions your home. As it cools the air, the refrigerant picks up heat and heads back to the ground where the cycle is repeated.
During the winter, the process is reversed. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the ground and delivers it to the heat pump, where an electric compressor and the heat from the ground release this high temperature heat into the air that is used to warm your home. There is no need for burning fuel with a furnace or boiler.
Following are three good reasons to investing in a geothermal heat pump.
Lower Operating Costs
While geothermal heat pump systems may initially cost more to install than traditional heat pumps, they can produce lower energy bills. Energy Star estimates that geothermal heat pumps are 45% more energy efficient, which directly translates into 45% lower utility bills.
Geothermal heat pumps last longer and require less maintenance than traditional heat pumps. They have fewer mechanical components and their pipes are buried underground, which protects them from potential hazardous environments. The pipes are made of a high-density plastic that will last more than 50 years and require no maintenance.
Geothermal energy is considered a form of renewable energy. As a result, home owners who use geothermal heat pumps can save with a federal tax credit of up to 30% for installations made between the years 2009 and 2016. Contact the IRS website for specific information.
You can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of using geothermal energy at www.gogreenacademy.com.