Using The Ground to Cut Your Utility Bill

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As fossil fuels get more expensive, society in general is starting to get serious about finding new power sources. Geothermal heating is a simple answer for homes.


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As fossil fuels get more expensive, society in general is starting to get serious about finding new power sources. Geothermal heating is a simple answer for homes.

Geothermal heating is a fairly old concept that has gained a new life through advances in modern technology and materials. The concept is best explained using a basic example.

In many parts of the world, homes come with basements. If you’ve lived in such a home, you’ve probably failed to notice an interesting fact. Everyone knows that a basement will remain relatively cool during a summer, no matter how hot it gets outside. Fewer people, however, realize a basement will maintain fairly warm temperatures in the winter regardless of how cold it is outside the home. This odd result has to do with how Mother Earth regulates herself.

Ostensibly, geothermal power takes advantage of the inherently stable temperature of the ground. Regardless of temperature fluctuations on the surface of the ground, soil below five feet remains at a fairly constant temperature range of 50 to 55 degrees. During the winter, this temperature can be used to create geothermal heating for a home or building.

The mechanics of using the ground for power are exceedingly simple. To produce heat, plastic piping loops are dug into the ground to create a circuit for heat transfer. Depending on the season, liquid is run through the system to exchange heat or cold with the ground and suck up the opposite. The reconstituted liquid is then run through a refrigerant process to produce cold air that it circulated in the home during the hot summer. In winter, the process runs backwards and the cold air in the home is forced into the ground where it circulates and is subsequently compressed. The compression warms the fluids to well over 100 degrees, which is transformed into heat for the home through air ducts.

An easier way to think of the above concept is to consider the season. In the winter, the system will transfer cold air to the ground in exchange for warm air used in your home. The opposite occurs in summer. Regardless of the season, a geothermal pump system can lower your energy costs by as much as 70 percent.

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