How is geothermal energy harnessed?


Solar heat which has been stored in the earth’s crust provides the inexhaustible source of supply energy for a geothermal heat pump. This energy is replenished each year by the sun during the normal cycle of our seasons. There is enough energy stored beneath each building to more than supply it’s heating / cooling requirements. All we need to do is extract that energy and the geothermal heat pump has been designed to do just that! In a recent study done by the US Department of Energy (DOE), new generation geothermal heat pumps were ranked above all other heating / cooling systems in their ability to conserve energy and reduce CO2 emissions. When compared to an electrically heated home, geothermal heat pumps consume less than 1/3 the amount of electrical energy to heat the structure. Consequently the electric utility company generates only 1/3 the emissions which it normally would.

What is a ground source(geothermal) Heat Pump?

Ground source Heat Pumps are electrically powered home heating / cooling devices which transfer heat to and from the earth via a refrigeration process. Heat pumps have been in operation for over 50 years and operate on the same principle as your household refrigerator or air conditioner.

During winter operation heat energy is absorbed from the ground via underground tubing or by pumping well water to the heat pump. The heat pump mechanism concentrates this energy and delivers it to the home in the form of warm air or hot water.

During summer operation the process is reversed. Warm air is collected from the home and rejected to the cooler earth. On most models, domestic hot water is produced any time the heat pump operates. Geothermal Heat pumps are available for both forced air and in-floor heating systems in a variety of output capacities which can accommodate any building design.

Energy Savings vs. Additional Capital Cost

Electric vs. GHP

Purchasing a geothermal heat pump for your home is both a big decision and a sound investment. A typical 2200 sq. ft. home in New Brunswick will consume 29,900 Kilowatt hours and cost approximately $ 1794.00 annually to heat. With an energy savings of 2/3 the cost of electric heat, the GHP will cost only $ 598.00 a saving of $1,196.00 each year the system is in operation. In a capital cost comparison with electric forced air heat, if the heat
pump system cost $6,600.00 more to initially install, then a the simple payback would be 5.5 years. This payback does not take into consideration the additional value and comfort your home now has as a result of central air conditioning or the additional savings made with the domestic hot water option. The additional monthly payment on an average 25 year mortgage at an interest rate of 7.25% would be approximately $47 however the average monthly saving would be $100.00. Therefore the GHP would actually be putting $ 54.00 extra in your pocket each month.

Wood-oil vs. GHP

When comparing a GHP system to a wood-oil combination furnace the capital cost of the GHP is less than the wood-oil system when total cost including the associated flue is taken into account. In addition, if wood fuel has to be purchased, the GHP will cost less to operate on a daily basis and is far superior to the wood furnace in the areas of cleanliness, safety, ease of use and automatic operation.

What can you expect from a Geothermal Heat Pump?

Savings: Compared to electric heat, a GHP will save 66% or more on your heating costs.
Comfort: The geothermal heat pump is completely automatic in operation providing heating, cooling and hot water with a centrally located heat/cool thermostat.
Cleanliness: There is no combustion in the home therefore the system is exceptionally clean.
Durability: Geothermal heat pumps have a good track record for long life and can be protected by our 10 year extended warranty.
Reliability: A geothermal system is housed indoors and underground, protected from the harsh elements. With few moving parts the system is virtually maintenance free.
Green Energy: Heating and cooling a home with a renewable energy resource is one more step towards minimizing the environmental threats we face.