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Geothermal Heat
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richard37066
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November 18, 2008 - 3:01 pm
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A little tidbit for contemplation -

In the 70's I moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area. The prestigious Georgia Tech had an entire roof of one of their science buildings covered in solar collectors. The research was ongoing.

This, and other, "green" technologies have been many decades in the making. Ask yourself - why have not these technologies been implemented in the ensuing years? Has it been cost? Has it been inactivity on the part of government?

I really don't know. I do know, however, that Richard Nixon had assembled a blue ribbon panel of the best minds available and asked for their input on natural resources and renewable energy. Their recommendations were unceremoniously dismissed by Nixon since they did not agree with his assessment of the direction in which the country should move. I suspect that the panel's findings were an affront and a potential cost to big business.

It would appear that the almighty dollar reigned supreme. And still does. An unconscionable impediment to real progress.

Didn't mean to get "political" Dave but the above fact does provide some small insight as to why the various technologies have not been implemented on a wide scale. It would appear that, like many individuals, we - as a people - respond to crisis as opposed to acting during a time of need. The crisis is upon us yet the response is yet to be seen in any measure. Will we ever learn? Perhaps - but hopefully not too late to save mankind and the earth upon which he depends for his survival.

I occurs to me that geothermal energy is being used - but sparsely - to augment more conventional means. Perhaps grass-roots discussions such as this will provide a small kick in the pants to those who make energy policy and, thus, broaden their scope of the alternatives available. One can hope.

Richard

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richard37066
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November 19, 2008 - 12:00 am
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Ziggie -

It's been my understanding - for many decades - that, at a 10-foot depth into the earth in most areas, the temperature remains at a relatively constant 55 degrees fahrenheit. Given that, it would appear that - in the long run - aiming the drill bit towards China instead of your neighbors house would be the best course to take. Unless, of course, you could direct the drill into their basement (unbeknownst to them) and suck all of the heat out of their house!

Seriously, though, I know for a fact that a small shopping center built in the town of Frisco, Colorado (where I once lived) installed a geothermal system right from the git-go and are energy INDEPENDENT insofar as heating and cooling are concerned. This, is spite of the fact that we're talking about a location high up in the Rocky Mountains and adjacent to the Continental Divide! This is established proof of the viability of the concept.

If they can use the technique to service a shopping center, then you could most certainly use the very same technology in your home. Needless to say, you have to do the math in order to determine the "payback" period. The literature covers all of the niceties. Just requires a little "Googling", reading and comprehension. A piece of cake.

respectfully - Richard

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wawadave
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November 21, 2008 - 2:05 pm
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Geothermal Heat this does seem to be a hot topic.

iceland uses this a lot.

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Oldanalyst
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November 21, 2008 - 10:35 pm
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We have had geothermal heating/cooling for 10 years. We installed it when we built a new house in the country and it cost about $2000 more than a conventional heating system. Our only source of energy in our house (about 2800 sq ft) is electricity. Our utilities in a slightly smaller house in town averaged about $350/month and our current cost with the geothermal system averages about $150/month.

We live in an area where there is a lot of surface and ground water and a lot of people who live in the country use geothermal heating/cooling. We take water out of the ground at about a constant 55 F and change the temperature by less than 8 F before emptying it into our 1 acre pond. This means that water going in in summer is cooler than the pond and water going in in winter is warmer than the pond and keeps ice from forming where the water enters the pond.

I have arranged the water exhaust so that it runs over rocks and oxygenates as it enters the pond which supplies oxygen for the life in the pond. We essentially take water out of the ground, and or subtract heat with a heat pump and dump the used water into our pond which drains into our county ground water system

In summer, it is easy to cool down air with cool water so air conditioning is very inexpensive. Our lowest utility costs are during the summer with air conditioning. Additionally, heat removed from the house during the summer goes into preheating water that goes into our hot water heater. This is a standard feature on our geothermal system.

We use an open system but a closed loop system can also be used. Liquid is pumped through pipes buried in the ground. The ground absorbs heat from the pumped liquid which allows air conditioning of a building or heat is absorbed from the ground which allows heating of a building. A large church nearby uses such a closed loop system

The systems may be much more efficient then either direct heating or common air conditioning systems. At air temperatures in the 50s, our system will cool over 10x more effectively than common systems.

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David Hartsock
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November 21, 2008 - 11:01 pm
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Welcome to the forum, Oldanalyst! Glad to have you aboard.

Also good to see someone with actual experience add to the thread. Good information, especially the before/after cost comparison.

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bem
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December 1, 2008 - 1:22 am
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This one I have a clue about, unlike many of my PC problems...

The equipment itself is not prohibitively more expensive than standard heat pump gear of any substantial efficiency. The payback in colder climates is short, assuming new construction and amortization of the cost above standard equipment. In warmer areas, the payback for a/c is not as great as the heating payback in cold climates. The real added expense for most people lies in the cost of drilling wells.

Where I live, the soil is measured in few feet and inches. Beyond that, limestone or harder bedrock. Drilling companies charge thousands per hole, with several per unit being necessary. This is the stopper for most folks, easily tripling the cost of a standard system. If you are fortunate enough to live on a deep lake or river where the water temperature is stable you can run your loop there. Slightly less efficient, but substantially less expensive. Just don't run an 'open' loop. Too much maintenance, at least in our warmer clime. Too much algae and other water weeds to contend with. Best spot I can think of is on a glacial deposit where the soil is very deep. Drilling expense there should be much less than other places. Too a point, the deeper the well the better.

The technology is quite sound and proven but, like so many other advances, is out of the reach of the average person. Think how many people still rely on window units when central air was invented in the '30's. It has taken some form of federal mandate to bring higher efficiency heating and cooling to the general public and this will probably be no different.

In the meantime, if you build a new house try to avoid the trap of spending a small fortune on the 'brass & glass' aspects and insist on a quality duct design and installation (of primary importance) attached to the highest efficiency equipment you can afford. You can always replace the front door with something prettier later. Same for the faucets in the kitchen and master bath. You won't change your a/c till the day it dies, and even then just the part that failed. Just the way people are. Those other things can be paid for with the savings from your utility bill if you go with the highest efficiency you can. If you gild the lily first and take the contractor's 'standard' system, they'll just sit there looking at you while the meter spins. (Never hesitate to bring in your own a/c contractor, most builder's shop for price alone.)

Just my 2 cents worth...

bem

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David Hartsock
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December 1, 2008 - 3:52 am
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[quote="bem":1y6cg1o4]Just my 2 cents worth...[/quote:1y6cg1o4]

That was worth much more than 2 cents! Welcome to the forum!

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