Geothermal Energy FAQ's

What is a geothermal heating and cooling system?

A few feet beneath the surface, the earth’s temperature remains constant. In Ohio, the average ground temperature is 54 degrees year round. Geothermal systems take advantage of this constant temperature to provide very efficient heating and cooling.

In winter, a water solution circulating through pipes buried in the ground absorbs heat from the earth and carries it to the Geothermal Furnace. Inside the home, a heat pump concentrates earth's natural warmth, and then circulates it throughout the home using standard duct-work.

In the summer, the process is reversed in geothermal technology: heat is extracted from the air in the house and transferred through the heat pump to the ground loop piping. The water solution in the ground loop then carries the excess heat back to the earth. The only external energy needed for the Geothermal System is the small amount of electricity needed to operate the ground loop pump, fan, and compressor

Is geothermal new?

Not really. The basic geothermal technology has been around for more than 50 years, and many homeowners and businesses have been enjoying the benefits of geothermal for over 20 years.

In recent years, many improvements have been made in the materials used, the installation methods, and the efficiencies of the compressors, pumps and other equipment.

What are the major benefits to the homeowner?

Homeowners will see their heating and cooling bills drop immediately--as much as 40% to 80%. Geothermal systems also require less maintenance and provide higher levels of comfort year-round. While saving money, you will also have the satisfaction of using fewer natural resources and protecting our environment.

The Geothermal System burns no fossil fuel to produce heat, therefore it  will not pollute the air.  It also produces NO carbon monoxide.  Even factoring in its share of emissions from the power plant that produces electricity to operate the geothermal system, total emissions are far lower than for conventional systems.

What are some specific environmental advantages?

According to data supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy and USEPA, a typical 3-ton residential geothermal system produces an average of about one pound less CO2 per hour of use than a conventional system. To put that in perspective, if just 100,000 homes were converted to geothermal, the country could reduce its CO2 emissions by 880,000,000 lb.

That would be the equivalent of converting about 58,700 cars to zero-emission vehicles, or planting more than 120,000 acres of trees.

In addition, the Geothermal System recycles the heat removed from your home during the cooling season and uses it to produce hot water. As a result, you will see a savings in hot water costs of about 30% to 50% annually.

 

Learn more about the environmental benefits of geothermal alternative energy here.

Is geothermal energy used primarily in homes?

Not really. While many homes have been fitted with Geothermal Systems, commercial enterprises (including factories, retail stores, office buildings and schools) also use geothermal to save energy and protect the environment. In fact, there are more than half a million installations in the United States today.

According to the EPA, schools are a particularly attractive place for the use of this technology. Across the country, schools using geothermal right now are saving an estimated $25,000,000 in energy costs which can be used instead for better educational equipment and more teachers. These schools also save a half-billion pounds of CO2 emission per year.

Should all of the nation’s schools convert to geothermal, the EPA has estimated that we could reduce oil imports by 61 million barrels annually, and provide the same environmental benefits of planting 8 million acres of trees or converting nearly 4 million cars to zero-emissions vehicles.

If the same comparison were made across all commercial and residential segments, the potential for environmental benefit would be staggering.

Does geothermal cost more?

That depends on how you measure cost. While they do cost more to install  than conventional systems, Geothermal Systems typically have the lowest life-cycle cost of any heating and cooling system. Heating and cooling for a typical 2,000 sq. ft. home can run as low as $1.00 a day.

Altogether, geothermal systems are a sound investment. The money you save each month in energy costs is more than enough to offset the initial installation costs.


Remember, too, that geothermal means extra savings on repairs, maintenance, hot water bills, and a possible geothermal tax credit. And the energy efficiency of geothermal adds value to the home.

How popular is geothermal?

There are more than one million geothermal installations in the United States today. Although this is a very small percentage of the total HVAC market, the number of people who are choosing to install geothermal is growing rapidly (about 20% every year) as more learn about the technology.

What size system will I need?

The size of the geothermal system depends on the size and design of your home or building. Sizing questions are best answered by a local heating contractor who can take into context all the variables of your unique installation. You can locate a contractor near you through our Geothermal Contractor Locator service.

How much space do I need for a vertical system?

For successful geothermal installation, an average residential, vertical loop can be installed in an area as small as 10 ft. x 20 ft. However, the area must be accessible to a drilling rig and free of utilities.

How much space do I need for a horizontal system?

A 140 ft. trench is needed per ton for your geothermal unit, with 15 ft. of space between each trench. For example, a 4 ton system would require a space 140 ft. x 45 ft. free of utilities. Proper geothermal installation has other requirements as well.

Is my pond large enough for a pond loop application?

A minimum 3/4 acre of surface area is required for a pond with an average depth of 8 feet.

Can I use geothermal to heat my water?

The waste heat removed from the home’s interior during the cooling season can be used to provide virtually free geothermal hot water resulting in a total savings in hot water costs of about 30% to 50% annually.

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