Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the March/April 2015 edition of Business Energy.
Caves aren’t really cold, but they aren’t really warm either. In a nutshell, that explains a bit about how geothermal systems derive their energy. For anyone who has gone caving or simply visited one of the many stunning caverns throughout this country, wearing a light jacket is often advised no matter what time of year the visit happens. Year round, a dependable temperature somewhere between the 50s and 60s can be found.
The number is a sure thing. Geothermal systems use the heat from the earth, that constant underground temperature, to heat your space in the winter and cool it in summer. Geothermal is cost effective, energy-efficient, reliable, and environment friendly. There are no pollutants resulting from the use of geothermal power.
Geothermal can be used in residential and commercial applications, in new construction as well as in existing homes or businesses.Many communities are considering, researching, or implementing microgrid solutions. The underlying rationale often involves complex business, operational, and economic issues. See our FREE Special Report: Understanding Microgrids. Download it now!
Multifaceted Benefits With the Types of Geothermal Systems
Geothermal can cut heating and cooling costs by as much as 70%. An added benefit is that these systems can also provide hot water for free. Geothermal systems also keep indoor air cleaner by not relying on outside air, keeping buildings free of pollens, outdoor pollutants, mold, spores, and other allergens. Geothermal is more comfortable than many other systems and the systems do not dry the air like many conventional HVAC systems do. They do not eliminate all humidity. However humidity can be added if needed, or, in the summer when dehumidification may be a more pressing problem, there are ways to dehumidify.
The starting point is piping in which liquid such as water or antifreeze is the medium. There are four types of geothermal ground loop systems to choose from: horizontal, vertical, lake, and open. The same loop works for both heating and cooling.
Horizontal, vertical and lake systems are all closed-loop systems. The heat pump and loop form a sealed pressurized system through which the liquid medium is circulated. Open loop systems, however, are not sealed and are open on either end to obtain the liquid medium (water) from an existing well, and to discharge it when it gets too cold or warm.
Vertical and horizontal closed-loop systems are laid vertically in wells or horizontally in trenches. Both are placed in an area adjacent to the buildings they serve. These systems can go in yards, under parking lots, or under playing fields. Pond or lake loops require a nearby body of water with adequate depth in which to put the loops. Open loops require adequate water for the needs of the system.
There are three major components to a geothermal system: a geo-exchange well, ground source heat pump, and a distribution system. Often times consumers have a hard time understanding which of the multiple options is best for them. There are three different types of geo-exchange wells to consider.Add Distributed Energy Weekly and Energy Storage Solutions to your Newsletter Preferences and keep up with the latest articles stored and distributed power, battery storage solar microgrids, HVAC options, and smart energy systems and LED lighting retrofits.