G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Archive for September, 2012

Kirkland Geothermal Guide: History of Geothermal Energy

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Geothermal energy is nothing new – it just gets more ink because of its increasing use to naturally heat and cool buildings, leaving a smaller carbon footprint and providing for an efficient, more cost-saving method to achieve indoor comfort.

History shows that geothermal energy dates back over 10,000 years when American-Paleo Indians used hot springs for bathing and heating, possibly even as a source for healing. And geothermal energy is not just a North American idea either. The oldest known hot springs spa was built in the Qin dynasty in China in the 3rd century B.C.

Romans used the water from hot springs for their public baths. Geothermal water was also used by the Romans for treating skin and eye diseases. Minerals found in hot springs water has been long believed to have healing qualities. Geothermal water was also used to heat the buildings in Pompeii. Subsequently, building heat was obtained from under floor systems.

History notes that France is home to the world’s oldest known geothermal district heating system. The system in Chaudes-Aigues has been in use since about the 14th century. And starting in 1960, France began using geothermal heating for homes in other areas. Up to 200,000 homes in France are heated by geothermal means.

History also shows geothermal energy use during the late 18th century near Pisa, Italy. Geothermal energy had been used to extract boric acid from the Larderello Fields through the use of steam. In 1904 at Lardello Fields, steam was successfully used to generate power for the first time. At the time, geothermal energy was seen as the power of the future.

In the U.S. in 1892, the first district heating system in Boise, Idaho was powered directly by geothermal energy, and was soon copied in Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1900, where geothermal water was pumped under sidewalks and roads to help prevent freezing and ice build up. In New Mexico rows of pipe were placed underground to keep soil warmer for agricultural purposes.

A deep geothermal well was used to heat greenhouses in Boise in 1926.

For the residential market, an inventor built a “downhole heat exchanger” in 1930 to heat his house. The heat pump, which was invented in 1852, was patented to draw heat from the ground in 1912. However, it was not until the 1940s that the geothermal heat pump was successfully launched. Records show that the first commercial heat pump was put into use in Portland, Oregon in 1946. The first residential open loop system was installed in 1948.

In the 1960’s, the first large scale industrial geothermal energy power plant was constructed, producing 11 megawatts of geothermal electricity. From the 1960’s to the present day organizations and governing bodies have been set up to manage, research, and develop new and improved geothermal energy sites and technologies.

Today, there are many geothermal power plants in working order in the U.S. and across the globe.

You can also use geothermal to heat and cool your Kirkland home – call G & S today to learn more about residential geothermal installation!

Continue Reading

Seattle Geothermal Installation Guide: What You Need To Think About Before Getting Geothermal

Monday, September 17th, 2012

With energy costs rising and supplies dwindling, people are taking much more serious looks at alternatives that in the past have seemed unfeasible and too “weird” to realistically contemplate.  Available since the formation of the Earth, geothermal heating and cooling is one such resource.

Geothermal energy is being used to provide more than 30% of Iceland’s electrical needs and it is fast becoming a viable option to provide heat for your home as well.  Before digging straight down, however, it is important to look around and consider some important points.

Geothermal 101

Thermal energy is a force that is produced from the movement of warm temperature to cooler.  The term “geo” is from the Greek word for Earth.  From harnessing the energy of hot springs in ancient times to technological advances to create electricity today, geothermal has long been considered, but often was ruled out as an expensive and unnecessary alternative to other cheaper forms of energy.  Now that those are harming the environment, more expensive and harder to get, geothermal has grown attractive.

Location, Location, Location

Difficult to retrieve from deep within the Earth, geothermal is most often considered for large production where natural breaks in the crust such as volcanoes, hot springs and faults are close to the surface.  Just ten feet below the surface, however, there is enough temperature difference to make available enough to efficiently heat a home.

Still, it’s not a guarantee of success, however.  The density of the bedrock, the water table and the balance between extreme hot and cold temperatures with the temperatures of the thermal energy are all factors to be considered.

Dollar for Dollar

For new construction, geothermal is a great alternative because after the more expensive installation, the cost from month to month can produce enough savings to quickly pay for the system.  The savings are potentially so significant, there are situations where the cost of replacing an old inefficient conventional system can be neutralized by the savings in just two to ten years.

To learn more about the benefits of installing a geothermal system in Seattle, give G & S a call!

Continue Reading

Seattle Geothermal Guide: Problems Caused by Poor Water Quality in Open Loop Systems

Monday, September 10th, 2012

As geothermal heating systems go, an open loop configuration can be an excellent choice, provided the environment supports it. Open loop systems work very effectively and efficiently because the deep water is held at an almost constant temperature year round. This property makes it a very good source of heat for the geothermal system.

However, an important factor to consider before choosing an open loop system is the quality of the water coming from the source. Although you won’t drink the water, the quality still matters a great deal, as poor water quality can cause serious problems in your geothermal system.

Let’s take a look at some common water quality problems and the damage they can potentially do to an open loop geothermal system in Seattle.

Mineral Deposits

If the water is filled with minerals — frequently called “hard water” — those minerals can be deposited within the geothermal coils. As they build up on the walls over time, they can slow the flow of the water or even clog it completely.

Hard water does not necessarily preclude the use of an open loop system. It just may call for extra maintenance, such as periodically flushing the system with a mild acid solution to remove mineral build-up.

 Impurities

Impurities in water, especially metals like iron, can also cause clogs. Most frequently this occurs in the return well of the geothermal system. Again, these impurities do not necessarily mean an open loop system can’t work for you, but you should consult with the contractor prior to installation for solutions to this problem.

Particulate and Organic Matter

If you plan to use surface water such as a pond or spring as the source for your open loop system, make sure to test the water composition thoroughly. An excess of sediment or organic matter can clog up your geothermal system very quickly.

Ideally, these are all situations that your Seattle geothermal contractor will anticipate and discuss with you ahead of time, so that your open loop system can be installed in such a way as to preempt any problems with water quality.

For more information about geothermal installation in Seattle, give G & S a call!

Continue Reading

Energy Cost Comparisons: How Efficient is Your Seattle Heating System?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric is all too familiar with the rising energy cost trend. Inefficient systems paired with costly fuel sources have many consumers looking for more cost effective ways to heat their homes. G&S Heating likes to help keep our customer base in the Seattle, WA area well informed. Here is some energy cost comparison information about different systems to help you better evaluate the amount of money you spend on energy.

Cost Examples by Fuel Type for 1,000,000 BTUs

  • Propane, at 80% efficiency and costing $2.80/gallon will cost $50.72
  • At $2.50/gallon, 80% efficiency, Oil will cost $41.97
  • An Electric Furnace, 100% efficient at 8.367¢ per kilowatt-hour will cost $30.62
  • Natural Gas at 80% efficiency and $1.25/therm costs $20.83
  • Electric Heat Pumps, 226% efficient, cost $13.55
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps, 300% efficient, will cost $10.21

All of the above figures assume 25% duct loss. The trend is plain to see. As efficiency increases, costs can drop dramatically. If you’re looking for a cheap way to heat your home and also make it more eco-friendly in the process, a geothermal heat pump may be the right choice for you.

Geothermal Heat Pump Installation, Maintenance and Repair in Seattle by G&S

Despite their incredible efficiency, geothermal heat pumps are not necessarily the best heating and cooling choice for everyone. There are a lot factors to take into account before a geothermal installation should be undertaken, including the amount of property you own, proximity to water and the quality and texture of the soil. If you’re interested in learning if a geothermal system is a viable option for your home, call G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric today. Our geothermal experts will assess your property and, if appropriate, perform a high quality geothermal heating and cooling system installation. We also provide quality maintenance and repair service, so call G & S with all your Seattle geothermal needs.

Continue Reading

We’re At The Fair!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

G&S Heating Heating, Cooling, and Electric is busy giving our special offers at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, WA! Come join the fun and check out our booth where you will find exclusive promotions on heat pumps, gas furnaces, coupons for service calls/tune-ups and more!

If we don’t see you at the fair, happening now through Monday, Septemeber 3rd, then we hope you have a great Labor Day Weekend with family and friends. Soak up the sunshine and stay safe!

Continue Reading