As more people look towards environmentally-friendly and affordable solutions to their home heating and cooling needs, alternative forms of energy are becoming more popular.
In recent years, geothermal energy has grown in use and there is a range of benefits associated with this type of energy system. The systems can be used in both heating and cooling and have a range of advantages and disadvantages.
What Is Geothermal?
Geothermal energy takes advantage of the fact that below the surface of the ground, the temperature stays at a consistently warm temperature year-round. The idea behind geothermal heating and cooling is to use this energy instead of non-renewable fuel.
A geothermal system uses something called geothermal heat pumps, also called ground source heating pumps, and can provide heating, cooling, and even hot water.
While it can be more expensive from the outset, these systems are incredibly efficient and can significantly reduce the amount of money you spend each month on energy.
The great thing about geothermal heating is that it can be used in any climate, unlike other renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
How Does A Geothermal System Work?
There are closed- or open-loop geothermal systems. A closed-loop system is the most commonly used type of geothermal energy used. With this system, heat exchangers circulate fluid (usually oil or antifreeze) throughout the system.
Depending on the climate you live in, the underground set up of your geothermal system will vary.
The fluid within a closed-loop system is never discharged into the earth.
With an open-loop system, water, rather than antifreeze or some other substance, is used in the system. In an open-loop system, fluid is discharged into the surrounding environment when necessary.
This type of system is best used in areas with a quality water supply and where the regulations about groundwater discharge allow for this type of system.
Does Geothermal Work with Both Heating and Cooling?
Yes, a geothermal system is designed to both heat and cool a home depending on the climate.
How Does Geothermal Heat and Cool a Home?
When it comes to geothermal heating, this internal ground heat is used in tandem with a heat pump exchange to provide heat for a home. A geothermal heat pump will capture the warmer air from within the earth and convert it into usable heat for a home heating system.
For geothermal cooling, the reverse process is used. Instead of drawing heat from the earth and bringing it up into the home, warm air is removed from the air in the home and dissipated into the earth below. In short, the ground, rather than being used as a heating source, is used as a sink where warm indoor air can be discharged.
Is Geothermal Better for Heating or Cooling?
It depends on your climate. In extreme climates, geothermal energy may struggle at times like any other type of HVAC system.
In especially hot climates, it will have a harder time keeping cool, and in especially cold climates a harder time staying warm.
But in most areas of the world where temperatures are more moderate, geothermal is highly effective for both heating and cooling a home.
Many people swear by geothermal cooling as being more efficient and comfortable than central air. However, if you live in an extra hot climate, it may test your geothermal system to keep your home cool and comfortable during the summer.
Is Geothermal Cheap?
In the long run, geothermal energy can save a lot of money. In most parts of the world, geothermal is an attractive way to keep our homes warm and cool, while reducing the amount we spend on monthly energy costs and reducing emissions.
Many places have tax credits available if you have a geothermal heating and cooling system.
If you are replacing your traditional HVAC system with geothermal, it can cost quite a bit more than other HVAC systems.
However, if you are building a new home, geothermal is a great option as it doesn’t add too much to the overall cost of the home.
Why is Geothermal Energy Good?
Since geothermal systems are so much more efficient than traditional systems, it is one of the most environmentally-friendly ways to heat and cool your home.
Since they are more efficient, they reduce the amount of power needed during peak electricity times of the year such as peak summer and winter demand.
A great thing about geothermal systems is that they are long-lasting. The ground loops, underground, can last as long as 50 years, and indoor components of geothermal systems can often last as long as 25 years. This is a lot longer than traditional heating systems.
Geothermal systems are far more energy-efficient than other types of heating and cooling. Figures show that geothermal is up to 65% more efficient than traditional forms of heating or cooling and for many, geothermal systems pay for themselves in about a decade.
Geothermal heating and cooling continue to grow in popularity. As more people are concerned with the amount they spend on monthly utilities and the number of greenhouse gases their home produces, alternative heating and cooling sources such as geothermal have become more common.
Geothermal systems use the heat of the earth to help keep homes warm during the cold months and use the earth as a heat sink to help dissipate hot air in the warmer months.
The internal workings of the system will vary depending on where you live and whether or not you have an open- or closed-loop system, but the basic functioning is the same regardless of what type of system you choose.
A geothermal heating and cooling system takes advantage of the earth’s consistent internal temperature, rather than simply relying on non-renewable energy to produce our heating and cooling.
This system can be used in all climates and for many people, these systems reduce their monthly energy consumption by more than half and the systems often pay for themselves in the long run.