If someone were to mention using geothermal energy as an alternative to traditional appliances to heat and cool your house, you would probably instantly think of a giant volcano or massive underground drills! However, as it turns out, scientists have found a way to manipulate the temperature of the earth's surface (and the area just underneath) to heat and cool the inside of your house efficiently and economically. There is more to the science behind it than that, but we'll keep it simple.
What is geothermal energy?
To put it simply, geothermal energy is the energy that is stored in the earth and is responsible for the temperature of matter. The word geothermal comes from the Greek 'Geo' meaning 'earth, and 'Therme' meaning 'heat.' Scientists have figured out a way to harness the energy that is naturally occurring underneath the earth (specifically underneath your property) and use it to both heat and cool the inside. If you have gone into a basement or cellar, you may notice that it is often a consistent temperature despite it being underground. This is because of the wonders of geothermal energy - the temperature up to 40 feet (12 metres) below the earth's surface manages to consistently stay between 50 and 60 degrees Celsius, no matter what the weather is outside.
Keeping your house warm and cool with geothermal energy
Now that we understand how geothermal energy keeps the temperature underneath your house at a constant and quite pleasant temperature, how does this help create warmth or cooling the home above the ground? The best and most efficient way is to drill underneath the house and lay special pipes down underground. Each company offering geothermal heating and cooling solutions will be slightly different in its approach. Still, they will work in the same general way – water in the pipes will change temperature and will either be colder or warmer than the outside air. Then special pumps will draw this warmer or cooler air up through the house and can be controlled by you to ensure that the air in your home is whatever temperature you want. A geothermal heating and cooling system will use the energy stored underground to create heated air in the colder months and cooler air in the summertime. All controlled by you!
Just think how nice it would be to have every room in the house be kept at a consistently comfortable temperature year-round, from the bedrooms to the living areas and even the kitchen.
Temperature affects sleep therefore it is crucial you have the ideal temperature in your bedroom, while it plays an important role in your everyday life as well. Lastly, the kitchen is the place where you cook and eat, thus you want to feel comfortable while spending time there. At times you might even need to invite tradespeople in your house to help remodel your kitchen when you need to work on unassembled kitchen cabinets. In cases like this, you want to make sure to give them a warm welcome and offer them a good place to stay.
Cost of Geothermal Heating and Cooling
As a homeowner, the cost of keeping your home a favourable temperature year-round is going to be of high importance, especially if you live in a fluctuating climate where it's hot in summer and below freezing in winter. It is crucial to keep in mind the long-term cost of any heating or cooling systems – the cheaper appliances can end up using a lot more power, and therefore be more expensive in the long run. So, it can be worth a slightly more significant investment for a system that will be cheaper to run and manage and have a longer life expectancy. Installation of geothermal heating and cooling systems may seem expensive at first (costing upwards of $10,000 to $30,000 to connect); however, this can be broken down into monthly payments, and the lowering of future power bills means that it can eventually end up paying for itself.
Geothermal heating and cooling in the home is a fantastic new technology that any homeowner should consider for their properties. The technology speaks for itself. Not only is it an economical and effective way of heating and cooling, but it is also nearly carbon-neutral, so it will not hurt the environment. It is a fantastic technology that can make the inside of your house a comfortable temperature year-round, and this is worth every penny.
By Maia Steel
Maia Steel is an architect of 7 years of experience, with a passion for writing and sharing content with others. She writes for different columns, covering topics concerning construction and environmental issues.