Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
Geothermal Pumps are being used by WindEnergy7 customers to combine with their wind/solar hybrid energy systems. By using a geothermal pump for their home or business, they can minimize the electricity needed for heating and cooling. Heating and Cooling a residence or business accounts for a big p[art of electricity required.
Why are Geothermal Pumps are so efficient?
Geothermal Pumps, similar to common Heat Pumps, except Geothermal Pumps they rely on the heat of the earth which is stable and even year round. Geothermal Pumps use the earth’s underground temperature to provide hot water, heating, and air conditioning.
From the highest temperature areas in the desert southwest, to the cold winters of the northeast, many parts of the United States experience extreme seasonal temperatures. However, only a few feet underground, the temperature of the soil stays at a constant temperature. Temperatures do vary according to latitude, at six feet underground, temperatures range from 45 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
A cave or cavern is a great example of the consistent underground temperature. The air underground in a cavern is a constant, cooler temperature than the air above ground. In the winter, cave temperature is warmer than the air outside.
So, Geothermal Pumps exploit this constant underground temperature and use it to balance out the extremes of both geographic location and seasonal weather changes. In the winter, a Geothermal Pump moves the heat from the earth into your house. In the summer, a Geothermal Pump takes heat from your home and cools it by circulating it it into the ground.
Approximately 70 percent of the energy used in a Geothermal Pump system is renewable energy from the ground. The earth’s constant underground temperature is what makes Geothermal Pumps the most quiet and efficient heating and cooling technologies available. A Geothermal Pump is more costly to install than regular Heating and Colling systems, but with lower energy bills they are a great investment. Matter of fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who now includes Geothermal Pumps in the types of products rated in the EnergyStar® program, a Geothermal Pump will save you 30 to 40% on heating, cooling, and hot water. Since a Geothermal Pump is mechanically simple and outside parts are below ground, protected from the weather, maintenance costs are lower too.
How Does Geothermal Pump Compare?
Utilities have found that homeowners using Geothermal Pumps rate them highly when compared to conventional systems. Figures indicate that more than 95 percent of all Geothermal Pump owners would recommend a similar system to their friends and family.
Cost And Return on Investment
Replacing an existing HVAC unit with an efficient geothermal system saves enough on utility bills that the investment can be recouped in five to ten years.
A Geothermal Pump system costs about $2,500 per ton of capacity. The typically sized home would use a three-ton unit costing roughly $7,500. That initial cost is nearly twice the price of a regular HVAC system that would probably cost about $4,000, with air conditioning.
You have to add the cost of drilling to this cost. The final cost of a Geothermal Pump will depend on whether your system will drill vertically deep underground or will put the loops in a horizontal fashion a shorter distance below ground. The cost of drilling can run anywhere from $7,000 to $26,000, or more depending on the terrain and other site conditions.
What is Durability of Geothermal
Geothermal Pumps are dependable and require minimal maintenance. Geothermal Pumps have fewer moving parts than other systems, and most of the parts are sheltered from weather, under ground. The piping used in the underground system is often guaranteed to last 25 to 50 years. Warm and cool air are distributed through ductwork, just as in a regular forced-air system. Geothermal Pumps have no outside condensing units to make noise like air conditioners, they are quiet while operating.
How Do Geothermal Pumps Work?
Geothermal Pumps don’t create heat by burning fuel, like a furnace. In winter a Geothermal Pump collects the Earth’s natural heat through a series of pipes in a loop, installed below ground or submersed in a pond or lake. Fluid circulates through the loop carrying heat. In the house, an electrical compressor and heat exchanger concentrate the Earth’s energy releasing it inside the home at a higher temperature. Then ductwork is used to distribute the heat to different rooms.
In summer, this process is reversed. Underground, the loop pulls heat from the house allowing it to be absorbed by the Earth. The Geothermal Pump cools your home the same way a refrigerator keeps food cool – it draws heat from the interior, not by blowing in cold air.
The loop that is buried underground is usually made of high-density polyethylene, the tough plastic allows heat to pass through efficiently. Installers connect sections of pipe by heat fusing the joints, making the connections stronger than the pipe itself. The fluid in the loop is water or an environmentally safe antifreeze solution that circulates through the pipes in a closed system.
Geothermal Pumps may use a loop of copper piping placed underground. When refrigerant is pumped through the copper loop, heat is transferred directly through the copper to the earth.
Types of Geothermal Pump Loops
Geothermal Pump systems are not do-it-yourself projects. The piping should be installed by professionals. Designing the system also calls for professional expertise: the length of the loop depends upon a number of factors, including the type of loop configuration used; your home’s heating and air conditioning load; local soil conditions and landscaping; and the severity of your climate. Larger homes requiring more heating or air conditioning generally need larger loops than smaller homes. Homes in climates where temperatures are extreme also generally require larger loops.
A Horizontal Ground Loop is usually the most cost effective when trenches are easy to dig and the size of the yard is adequate. The trenches are dug three to six feet below the ground. A series of parallel plastic pipes are used, then you backfill the trench. Typical horizontal loop will be 400 to 600 feet long for each ton of heating and cooling.
A Vertical Ground Loop is used where there is little yard space, when surface rocks make digging impractical. Vertical holes 150 to 450 feet deep – much like wells – are bored in the ground, and a single loop of pipe with a U-bend at the bottom is inserted before the hole is backfilled. Vertical loops are generally more expensive to install, but require less piping than horizontal loops because the Earth’s temperature is more stable farther below the surface.
A Pond Loop design may be the most economical when a home is near a body of water such as a shallow pond or lake. Fluid circulates underwater through polyethylene piping in a closed system, just as it does through ground loops. The pipes may be coiled in a slinky shape to fit more of it into a given amount of space. Since it is a closed system, it results in no adverse impacts on the aquatic system.
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