Using the earth's core temperature to create energy has been possible for years but recently the cost of geothermal systems have fallen to the point where they are becoming a mainstream possibility. Some organizations are researching how to implement geothermal systems on a large-scale basis to provide power for larger communities and production facilities, but perhaps the most exciting and practical use for this technology is by installing systems in single-family homes. This article will briefly explain how geothermal systems work and will then provide pricing information and links to various resources online where you can learn more about getting specific systems installed in your home.
How Does Geothermal Energy Work?
There are many different types of geothermal systems that employ different types of technology, they all function on the same basic premise. Using the shallow earth as a source of heat in the winter and as a cooling source in the summer, geothermal systems can help to regulate the temperature of homes during months of extreme weather. A geothermal heat pump simple moves the warm air from the ground into the home in the winter and moves the cooler air from the ground into the home in the summer. Ground heat exchangers can also move hot air from homes into the ground in the summer to further reduce the heat in homes. Direct exchange heat pumps use copper tubes filled with a refrigerant. The tubes are buried in the earth, and the exchange occurs as the heat passes through the copper tube and heats the coolant. A home system consists of the copper tubing buried in the ground and the water heater sized heat pump that is installed in the home.
What Is the Cost of Geothermal Systems?
Generally, the cost of geothermal systems are considered to be more expensive than other types of energy systems to install but less than most to operate. Only natural gas has a comparable low-operational cost. What this means is that there is a payback period where several years are required to recoup the costs of installation. Depending on the system, this can take anywhere from two to ten years. The lifespan of geothermal systems is also longer than other types of energy systems, so you also save money by not having to replace the system as frequently. Some systems are rated to last from 50 to 200 years. While many factors are in play when considering the cost of geothermal systems (such as the geology of the area where you live, the accessibility of your land, the energy efficiency of your home, et cetera), the United States Department of Energy suggests that $7,500 is a rough ballpark estimate for getting started with a geothermal system.
Additional Web Resources
- California Energy Commission Consumer Energy Center - This excellent website provides a great deal of easy to understand information on these systems including facts on cost and durability.
- Geothermal DIY - This commercial site sells the TerraSource brand do-it-yourself geothermal kit.
- Climate Master - Climate Master specializes in residential geothermal systems and this website also provides valuable information on how to make the switch to geothermal.
- Water Furnace - Another commercial site that provides products and information on geothermal systems is Water Furnace.
Now Is the Time
If you have been thinking about upgrading your home's energy system, there is no better time than the present to make the investment. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $467 million in funding opportunities for the implementation of geothermal energy systems. For more information, you can submit emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tax credits are also available for people who make the switch to geothermal.