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Geothermal heating

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:34 AM
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by admin last modified Jul 23, 2008

I’ve been interested in geothermal heating since about 2001 when the local utility company started advertising it. I read about it and it sounded like a no brainer… until the cost and installation details came up. I had assumed it would be like buying a new furnace in that you just buy the unit, install it, [...]




 

 

I’ve been interested in geothermal heating since about 2001 when the local utility company started advertising it. I read about it and it sounded like a no brainer… until the cost and installation details came up.

I had assumed it would be like buying a new furnace in that you just buy the unit, install it, and voila! instant heating with a ton of savings.

Geothermal heating’s main infrastructure is the underground tubing so when I first learned about it, it was impractical for where we were living. Luckily my friend Ed was planning a house around this time and I got to live vicariously through his build and his experience with geothermal heating.

How it works

The closest analogy is that it works like a giant refrigerator. You install tubes underground either horizontally or in deep wells. It’s filled with a liquid and in the house is a heat pump that extracts the heat and pumps the liquid through the tubes. Since the temperature underground is a fairly steady 55 degrees (give or take), it takes less energy to heat the home.

400% efficiency

With a geothermal system, you get around 400% efficiency. This means for every dollar you spend, you get four out of it. Compare it to a to of the line high efficiency furnace which is around 92% efficient and you get the idea of how this can save money and the environment.

What about in summer?

In the summer the system runs in reverse, taking the heat out of the house, running it in the tubs, and bringing the cooler underground temperature inside.

Cost

The cost of these systems seems all over the place . Figure about $1000 per trench which is per ton and the rest of the equipment is fairly similar to other HVAC systems. They’re ideal for radiant systems as well.

The payback time is about 5-8 years and that’s assuming current energy prices. The way things have been creeping up lately, I would think this would come down and for this reason was why we opted for it. One winter our heating bill jumped to $250/month when we would normally pay around $65. It was always a surprise getting the utility bill every month and seeing what was in store for us.


 

 

 
 
 
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