Geothermal heating systems use the constant temperature just below the earth’s surface to heat or cool buildings with minimal electricity and a very low environmental impact.
A few feet down, the earth maintains a steady temperature of about 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A geothermal heating system absorbs this heat from the earth’s soil and distributes it throughout the building it services.
How does geothermal heat work?
While there are a number of different types of geothermal heating systems, the basic principal is the same for all of them. A looped system of pipes is filled with water, or a mix of water and refrigerant. This liquid is pumped through the pipes, absorbing the earth’s temperature and transferring it to the cooler air inside.
It runs on a continuous circuit, providing a consistent and steady supply of heat to the home or building.
During the summer months, the hot air inside is cooled under ground and sent back in to lower indoor air temperature. So the system serves double-duty. It cuts down energy usage from furnaces and eliminates the need for power-sucking A/C.
Geothermal heating systems also save energy by eliminating the need for a hot water boiler during the warm summer months. Because the earth doesn’t need to use the heat cycled out from the house, the hot water in the system can be redirected to your water heater!
What if I want my building colder or warmer than the earth?
The geothermal system does not completely eliminate the electrical component of heating and cooling. As shown in the following video, the geothermal heat feeds into a heating element, thus greatly reducing (but not eliminating) energy usage.
Cost Of Geothermal Systems
While the initial cost of installing a residential geothermal heating system is greater than a traditional system, it pays for itself in energy savings within the first five to ten years.
To fit an average household, which includes underground piping and heating element, you can expect to pay about $7,500. A regular heating unit runs about $4,000. With such a difference in cost, what can you expect to get out of it?
Benefits of Heating From the Ground Up
- Geothermal heat systems can reduce your electric bill up to 50%
- Since the heat is from water, humidity stays at a constant… No more dry winter air, which is a huge plus for allergy sufferers and also helps with eczema, dry skin, and chapped lips. Indoor plants will thank you, too!
- Regular heating systems use blasts of hot air. But geothermal systems provide constant, steady, quiet comfort.
- It’s ecofriendly: Renewable, sustainable, with virtually no impact on the environment accept to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by cutting electricity consumption.
- Indoor components last up to 25 years, and outdoor piping up to fifty years.
One in twenty-eight new homes currently heat with geothermal systems, and that number is expected to rise. This is good news for our pocketbooks, and our planet!