We have looked at various forms of heating, such as gas central heating, underfloor and solar powered, for both domestic and commercial Properties. But one that seems relatively new to this country is geothermal heating, which in the US, has been in use for the past 60 years or more.

GeoThermal Plant 2What is Geothermal?

The temperature outdoors, in any country, fluctuates with the changing seasons but thanks to the insulating properties of the earth, the temperatures underground don’t change as drastically. At a depth of four to six feet below ground, temperatures remain relatively constant all year-round, thus providing a source of heat from the earth.

How does a Geothermal System work?

A geothermal system is built on-top of a buried system of pipes, called an earth loop, which is attached to a pump, drawing the heat from the earth up into a handling unit. This heat can then be distributed throughout a building by means of warm air through a ventilation heating system.

So why is it that this seemingly super efficient method of heating, that works with nature and emits no greenhouse gases, comes under so much scrutiny from the general public? Here are some of the myths about geothermal heating, and the real truths behind them:

  • Geothermal systems are not a renewable technology because they use electricity“. False – Geothermal systems use only one unit of electricity to move up to five units of cooling or heat from the earth to a building.
  • Solar and wind power are more efficient renewable technologies“. False – Geothermal systems remove four times more kilowatt-hours of consumption from the electrical grid per dollar spent than both solar and wind power add to the electrical grid.
  • Geothermal needs lots of land space in which to place the earth loops“. False – Some earth loops can be buried vertically, requiring less ground surface.
  • Geothermal heat pumps are noisy“. False – The systems actually run very quietly.
  • Geothermal systems wear out quickly“. False  Earth loops, if installed correctly and maintained regularly, can last for generations. The handling unit is housed indoors, so with proper maintenance these systems can last decades. When the unit does need replacing, it’s a lot cheaper than a brand new boiler!
  • Geothermal doesn’t have the capability to heat water and a home simultaneously“. False – The system can be designed to handle several systems with no loss of heat.

So whether you are a consumer of gas, electric or oil powered central heating or you have switched to solar, hydropower or wind power, it’s worth taking a look at geothermal heating. It could just be the next big thing.

[Photos by ThinkGeoEnergy]