Geothermal heating is an eco-friendly method of regulating the temperature that uses renewable energy sources. In many ways, geothermal heating and cooling work a lot like a traditional heat pump. When it is cold outside, heat is pumped inside while cool air is moved outside. When it is hot outside, the process is reversed to keep a cool temperature inside. When it comes to geothermal heating and cooling, rather than using an appliance powered by non-renewable energy sources, heat energy is gathered from below ground and transferred inside. During the summer, like with a heat pump, this process is reversed and heat from inside is transferred back below the ground.
A ground source geothermal heat pump can work with your existing heating system to enhance its performance and reduce your overall energy consumption. That is because at a certain depth below ground there is a significant amount of heat stored. This may come as a surprise to some, as most people get the impression that the deeper underground you dig, the colder the earth will get. While this is true to a certain depth, once you get lower than depths of 2.5 to 3 metres you will actually encounter thermal energy that keeps the temperature at or near the average annual air temperature. In Vancouver and the surrounding lower mainland, that temperature remains at roughly 11 degrees Celsius throughout the entire year. This geothermal energy, which originates from the sun’s heat, is used to provide temperature control above ground.
Types of Geothermal Energy Sources
There are a number of ways you can harness geothermal energy for use in your home or commercial property, but each method functions according to the same basic principle. The geothermal energy from beneath the ground is moved above ground using a looped system of pipes that continuously circulate water. This water circulation allows the heat to be transferred above ground where it can be used to provide space heating inside. There are four types of ground loops that can harness geothermal energy and efficiently transfer it inside.
A horizontal loop requires a significant amount of space to be installed on a property, since it ranges in lengths from 100 to 400 feet. Trenches are dug at the appropriate depth and pipes are run along the entire length of the trench system where they can move water and gather heat energy.
When space on a property is limited, a vertical loop is usually the best option for harnessing geothermal energy. Rather than spreading a large trench system across hundreds of feet, drilling equipment is used to dig small holes that are just wide enough for the size of the water pipes. These holes can reach depths of anywhere between 75 and 300 feet. Just like a horizontal loop, water is pumped through these pipes which allows heat to be moved from deep underground to the surface where it can be used to heat your home.
Geothermal heat can also be found below water at a certain depth. If you have access to an adequately sized body of water near your property, you can save a lot of time, money and energy without having to dig deep underground. Pond loops are simply installed using an open loop system in which pipes are sunk to the bottom of the lake or pond where ground water can be gathered as the geothermal heat source.
The most economical of the four options is the open loop system. Here, groundwater is again used as a direct energy source, even if your property is not near an actual body of water. This system requires ideal conditions to function adequately, where there is easy, direct access to groundwater.
In short, a geothermal heating system can certainly compliment your existing heating system. Not only will you be able to heat your home more efficiently, you will also find that the geothermal system makes it easier to keep the inside air cool during the hot summer months. This eco-friendly approach to climate control is ideal for areas that see relatively moderate temperatures year round, though due to the abundance of thermal energy generated by the sun that is located below ground, it is really a question of which type of geothermal system will best be able to access that energy. For more information about geothermal energy and how you can supplement your existing heating system with a renewable energy source, be sure to contact the friendly experts at Lillie Family today.