The following text will provide you with in-depth information about geothermal heating, the way it works, the benefits of geothermal heating compared to other sources, as well as factors that need to be taken into consideration before choosing to install a geothermal heating system.
What Is Geothermal Energy and Geothermal Heating?
Geothermal heating systems work by transferring the natural heat of the earth to provide heating to houses. The term geothermal is derived from the Greek language, and literally translated means 'earth heat.' This source of energy is found underneath the crust of the earth - both in shallow grounds, as well as miles below the surface and even in magma. Tapping into those reservoirs of magma, steam or hot water, it can generate energy both in terms of geothermal heating as well as geothermal electricity, that can then be used to provide electricity to run household appliances or provide the house with heating, cooling or warm water.
How Does Geothermal Heating Work?
A geothermal heating system takes advantage of the temperature of the earth about three meters below the surface. As the temperature, there is constant throughout all seasons and in all geographical areas, geothermal heating is a very reliable source of energy both in the summer, as well as during the winter months.
Geothermal heating can be harnessed through the use of geothermal heat pumps, also known as Ground Source Heat Pumps. In the video below you can find out how the system works and how your home can benefit from geothermal heating.
In heating mode, the heat from the earth is absorbed by a cold refrigerant fluid, which circulates and transports the heat to a compressor. The compressor then increases both pressure and temperature. Then the hot refrigerant fluid circulates through the building and is absorbed by colder interior air in order to heat the interior. The refrigerant fluid, which, as a result, cools down again, then re-circulates into the ground, absorbing more heat and repeating the process.
A geothermal heat pump can also make direct use of ground water deeper below the surface, which can be used to heat buildings, grow plants or, as used by some cities in the United States, geo heating systems with hot water underneath roads or sidewalks are used to melt snow.
In fact, the United States is the largest producer of geothermal energy and geothermal heating in the world, making use of the geysers, close by San Francisco. But also Iceland, due to their many active volcanoes, hot springs, and geysers, is a huge provider of this type of energy. The country uses geothermal heating to heat a large percentage of their households, as well as swimming pools throughout the country.
Can Geothermal Energy Be Used for Other Purposes?
Speaking of geothermal heating, the heating of buildings and generating hot water are not the only applicable possibilities that geothermal energy is used for.
Geothermal energy can be used in a cooling mode, in which heat is taken away from the building and as a result absorbed by the earth. A cooled refrigerant fluid in the system absorbs and removes the heat from the air inside. Therefore, geothermal heat pumps provide your house with cool air during the summer months, completely free.
- Hot water heating
An optional geothermal heating system module, the Hot Water Pre-Heater (HWPH) can capture the excess heat in the refrigerant, providing typically about 50% of the total hot water needs for homes or offices, or be designated to heat hot tubs, swimming pools, or provide floor-heating. This provided hot water is generated completely free through the geothermal heating system.
Does Geothermal Heating Produce Any Emissions?
Geothermal energy and geothermal heating are environmentally friendly, sustainable and renewable sources of energy. The emission rates of geothermal power plants are much lower than emissions from power plants using fossil fuels. Nevertheless, geothermal heating systems emit about 5% carbon dioxide, 1% sulphur dioxide and less than 1% of the nitrous oxide that is emitted by other power plants of comparable size. There are, however, certain types of geothermal plants that produce nearly no emissions at all.
Why You Should Invest in Geothermal Heating
- Geothermal heating is a sustainable and renewable energy: geothermal heating plants do not produce power by burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil or gas, but simply by moving heat from the earth, they produce - as previously mentioned - significantly fewer emissions. Geothermal heating is, therefore, an attractive solution in order to reduce your carbon footprint and to show your positive and sustainable impact on the environment.
- Geothermal heating can save you money: by making use of geothermal heating can earn you huge savings on your energy costs throughout the year—compared to the usage of fossil fuels, geothermal heating can provide you with savings of as much as 80%.
- Geothermal heating is reliable and independent from external factors: compared to other renewable energies, such as solar power or wind energy, geothermal heating has the advantage of always being an available and reliable source of energy, as geothermal heating is not dependent on neither the sun or the wind.
- Geothermal heating is highly efficient: geothermal heating systems, also called ground source heat pumps, are highly efficient due to the fact that geothermal energy used is constant. Geothermal heat pumps can reach efficiencies of between 300% and 600% on even the coldest winter nights—opposed to air-source heat pumps that reach an efficiency of 175% to 250% on cool days, for instance.
- Geothermal heating systems are durable: the ground source heat pump is a quiet solution that does not bother your neighbours with noise, and at the same time is extremely durable and can last several decades while requiring only a very little amount of maintenance.
What Are the Requirements to Benefit from Geothermal Heating?
Due to the constant ground temperatures, geothermal heating systems can be used almost anywhere, but some factors need to be taken into account in order to install the ground source heat pump and to determine the best working type of pump.
Composition and properties of the soil can affect heat transfer rates and therefore need to be taken into consideration for the design of a ground loop system. A soil that has positive heat transfer properties requires less piping to achieve the desired heating effect, which ultimately also influences the price of such a system.
For installing a ground source heat pumps on your grounds, the availability of surface water or groundwater can influence the type of ground loop that can be used. Dependent on the depth, volume or water quality, an open-loop system could be installed, but this requires a thorough investigation of the water quality in order to avoid potential problems.
Ground source heat pumps require at least a small amount of available land to be installed on. The layout, landscaping and underground utilities have an influence on which system design can be implemented. For instance, horizontal ground loops, which are generally the cheapest solution, are usually installed in buildings that have a lot of land available. However, if there is not that much space available, vertical geothermal heating systems can be installed.
How Much Does It Cost to Exploit Geothermal Heating?
The investment price for a geothermal heat pump is very difficult to calculate, as many different factors need to be taken into account. But even though a geothermal heating system costs more than an alternative system, such as an air-source system of the same heating or cooling capacity, the additional costs are amortised within 10 years. On the other hand, geothermal heating systems can endure several decades. The inside components of a heat pump have an average lifespan of 25 years, while the ground loop can endure more than 50 years. Therefore, an initial investment into geothermal heating will be paid back rather quickly, while you can enjoy free heating and warm water for generations.
Finding the Right Supplier of Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal heat pumps require professional installation and implementation. If you are considering to use geothermal heating, by filling in our form with your needs and requirements, we can provide you with a free service without any obligations. We will match you with up to four geothermal heating UK suppliers and they will then contact you directly with individual offers and quotes. From there you can choose whichever one fits your needs the best!