Frequently Asked Questions
There is a lot of information to absorb about the geothermal technology, especially if you’re just now learning of it. The following questions and answers breakout specific areas of interest and should give you a great overall understanding! Once you’ve become acquainted with its background please give LBR Geothermal Services a call to discuss how geothermal can work for you. And start saving you money!
The Geoexchange Heat Pump Consortium (GHPC) is a nonprofit organization working to raise awareness and increase the use of geothermal technology throughout the United States. Here they provide answers the most frequently asked questions about geothermal technology.
What is geothermal technology?
Geothermal technology uses the earth’s renewable energy, just below the surface, to heat or cool a home or other building, and to help provide hot water. It’s sometimes referred to as a geothermal heat pump, a ground source heat pump, geoexchange, earth-coupled heat or green heat. No matter what you call it, geothermal systems are the best choice you can make for both your pocketbook and your planet. In fact, these systems are so good that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said they are, “the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available today.”
How does it work?
A few feet beneath the surface, the earth’s temperature remains fairly constant, ranging from 45º or so in northern latitudes to about 70ºF in the deep south-year round. Geothermal takes advantage of this constant temperature to provide extremely efficient heating and cooling.
In winter, water or a water solution circulating through pipes buried in the ground absorbs heat from the earth and carries it into the home. The geothermal system inside the home uses a heat pump to concentrate the earth’s thermal energy and then to transfer it to air circulated through standard ductwork to fill the interior space with warmth.
In the summer, the process is reversed: heat is extracted from the air in the house and transferred through the heat pump to the ground loop piping. The water solution in the ground loop then carries the excess heat back to the earth. The only external energy needed for geothermal is the small amount of electricity needed to operate the ground loop pump and fan.
Is geothermal new?
The basic technology has been around for more than 30 years, and many homeowners and businesses have been enjoying the benefits of geothermal for much of that time.
In recent years, though, many improvements have been made in the materials used, the installation methods, and the efficiencies of the compressors, pumps and other equipment.
What are the major benefits to the home/building owner?
Owners enjoy lower utility bills (25% to 70% lower than with conventional systems), lower maintenance, and higher levels of comfort, year-round. They also have the peace of mind of knowing they’re being environmentally responsible.
Since a geothermal system burns no fossil fuel to produce heat, it generates far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional furnace, and completely eliminates a potential source of poisonous carbon monoxide within the home or building. Even factoring in its share of the emissions from the power plant that produces electricity to operate the geothermal system, total emissions are far lower than for conventional systems.