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Geothermal Power: A Powerfully Efficient Energy Source
If you are looking into alternative energy sources for your home, consider geothermal power which is one of the most efficient ways of generating electricity and heat for your home. People have been using geothermal heat production for centuries, but it has only been recently that geothermal power could efficiently heat a home or even power an entire community!
Using heat from below the earth’s surface, electricity can be produced using warm water from hot springs, or in regions where this heated water is not available, earth tubes and downhole heat exchangers can collect heat to be converted into electricity.
Geothermal is More Affordable Than Ever
With modern advances in geothermal technology, the overall cost of installing and maintaining geothermal power can rival that of even the cheapest fossil fuels, such as coal, with far fewer environmental consequences. Consider these geothermal facts:
- The average life span of a geothermal heating system is 22 years according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), GeoExchange
- Geothermal heating systems are the most energy efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available (source: Space Conditioning: The Next Frontier”")
- Geothermal installation cots are generally recouped in three to seven years
- A geothermal heat pump is four to five times more efficient in fuel conversion than a gas furnace.
Energy Costs Compared
How does geothermal energy compare in dollars and cents to conventional forms of energy? A common practice when comparing the cost effectiveness of power and heating is to compare the cost to generate one million BTU’s:
- Fuel Oil – $30.21 per 1,000,000 BTU
- Propane – $29.73 per 1,000,000 BTU
- Natural Gas – $15.48 per 1,000,000 BTU
- Geothermal Heating Pump – $6.70 per 1,000,000 BTU
Types of Geothermal Power Systems
There are three major types of geothermal heat systems that are commonly available. The use of each depends on the needs of your home and available environmental resources (i.e. Where hot springs are available, hot water can be pumped directly into a heating system. If the area is dry, earth tubes and downhole heat exchangers are used to collect heat.):
- Open Loop Heat Pump System – The oldest of the geothermal systems, this type pumps water from a well and delivers it to the heat pump. It requires a surface body of water such as a lake, river or pond for use as an injection well.
- Horizontal Closed Loop Heat Pump System – The most common residential system, its ability to conserve space makes this option viable for homes without access to land or surface water.
- Lake Loop Heat Pump System – A great alternative for those located within close proximity to a large body of water.
Look for an Experienced Contractor
The experience of the contractor is often considered to be the single most important factor in converting from a conventional power source to geothermal. RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractors have undergone extra training in energy efficiency.
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