Tapping the Earth For Home Heating and Cooling
Posted by keelynet on January 20, 2009
This is a great way to maintain a constant, comfortable temperature in your house or business, use the earth or a pool of water as your heat/cold sink.
“A CNet post gives details of a still little-known energy technology: the ground source heat pump or geo-exchange system. This is distinct from so-called geothermal energy, which taps the heat in the earth to provide energy. Geo-exchange is suitable in scale for small industry — the article describes one commercial re-development of an old mill into apartment and commercial space that put in a geo-exchange at about half the cost of traditional fossil fuel-based alternatives. Even some individual homeowners are opting for this green method of heating and cooling, at a premium in price of about 50 percent (but costs are very much per-project, largely because drilling is involved). “Rather than use underground heat, geothermal heat pumps attached to buildings capitalize on the steady temperature of the ground or deep water wells. In effect, they treat the Earth like a giant energy savings bank, depositing or withdrawing heat depending on the time of year.” / Open and closed loop – Strictly speaking, what’s often called a “geothermal system” is a misnomer because it implies tapping the heat in the Earth, something already done at large scale to supply electricity to utilities. This geothermal energy–and its offshoot enhanced geothermal–works only works in certain geographies and uses different technology. Rather than use underground heat, geothermal heat pumps attached to buildings capitalize on the steady temperature of the ground or deep water wells. In effect, they treat the Earth like a giant energy savings bank, depositing or withdrawing heat depending on the time of year. During the summer, the systems pump indoor heat underground and draw on the lower temperatures of the Earth to cool a building. In colder months, the same process works in reverse, with heat from the ground being used to warm indoor air. Indoors are box-shaped heat pumps that pull and and push either water or a working fluid, such as antifreeze, in and out of the ground. Using the same compressor loop mechanism that a refrigerator has, a heat exchanger draws energy from the circulating liquid to either heat or cool a building. There are a number of different configurations for the liquid transfer loops–either water wells several hundred feet deep, which are said to be the most efficient, or coils which could be dug only a few meters underground. Others use a body of water like a pond as a heat sink. Regardless of type, though, ground-source heat pumps are considered one of the most efficient forms of heating and cooling.”
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