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.
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.