Published Sunday March 3, 2013:  Updated 1/2/2014

Geothermal Energy

Why settle for a 95% efficient appliance when you can have one that is 480% efficient?  

When I hear the phrase, “Geothermal energy” the image that comes to mind is one of Yellowstone park with steam bellowing from a crack in the Earth.

But there is another form of Geothermal energy that is available everywhere on the surface of the Earth, even in your own backyard.
This Geothermal energy is actually solar energy that over many months and years has warmed the sub-surface of the Earth to a nearly constant temperature. This temperature is not hot by any means but conveniently in most places on Earth, is not too far off from what we would consider room temperature. At my house, the surface of the earth (below about 8 feet) is a constant 56 °F (13.3 °C) all year long. In conjunction with the wonderful advances in recent air conditioning/heat pump technology, this virtually free source of energy can be collected and used to heat or cool our homes very efficiently.  

A Heat Time Machine: 

I have always wanted a time porthole to 6-months ago.  A duct that would draw hot summer air into my house during the winter time and cold winter air in the summer time.  

This is essentially what a ground-loop heat pump is doing.  Moving the delayed heat that has been making its way through the ground (for decades or longer) to where you need it now.  

The heat from the ground is borrowed during winter heating months and returned during summer cooling months.  

This diagram also includes the optional hot-water generator (HWG) that provides free domestic hot water whenever the compressor is running.  

On 12/31/2013, I was on KUER radio (an NPR station) to discuss Geothermal heat pumps.  The issues were:  

  • Why would anyone want to install a Geothermal HVAC since natural gas is so abundant and cheap?  
  • Since Geothermal heat pumps are so efficient and green, why would anyone want to continue heating their home with natural gas?  
Have a listen here and click on the blue "Listen" button.  

On 4/5/2013, I was on a talk radio show discussing Geothermal Heat-pumps.  Have a listen here.  

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