Geothermal Energy FAQ

If you are new to geothermal energy and are searching for an energy efficient and eco-friendly heating and cooling alternative to your home or commercial space, please take some time to read through the frequently asked questions below. If you still have questions, we’d love to connect and chat with you about your project. Please give us a call at 604.897.3411

 

Geoexchange technology uses the earth’s renewable energy—located just below the surface—to heat or cool a home or building. Sometimes referred to as a geothermal heat pump, ground source heat pump, or green heat, these systems are the best choice you can make for your planet and budget. The US Environmental Protection Agency attests they are, “the most energy-efficient, environmentally-clean and cost-effecgive space conditioning systems available today.”
A few feet beneath the surface the earth’s temperature remains fairly constant—ranging from approximately 45ºF in northern latitudes to 70ºF in the deep south year round. Geoexchange takes advantage of this constant temperature to provide extremely efficient heating and cooling.

In winter a water solution circulating through pipes buried in the ground absorbs heat from the earth and carries it into the home. The system inside the home uses a heat pump to concentrate the earth’s thermal energy and then to transfer it to air circulated through standard ductwork to fill the interior space with warmth.

In the summer the process is reversed—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 GeoExchange is the small amount of electricity needed to operate the ground loop pump and fan.

The basic technology has been around for more than 30 years and many homeowners and businesses have been enjoying the benefits for much of that time.

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.

Owners enjoy lower utility bills (25% to 70% lower than with conventional systems), lower maintenance and higher levels of comfort year-round. They also have the peace of mind of knowing they’re being environmentally-responsible.

Since a geoexchange system burns no fossil fuel to produce heat, it generates far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional furnace and completely eliminates a potential source of poisonous carbon monoxide within the home or building. Even factoring in its share of the emissions from the power plant that produces electricity to operate the system, total emissions are far lower than for conventional systems.

Thanks to minimal equipment a relatively small area of land is needed for injection and production wells. Geothermal generating stations are also located right on the site eliminating the need for space somewhere else.
According to data supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Geothermal Technologies, nearly 40% of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the result of using energy to heat, cool and provide hot water for buildings. This is about the same amount of CO2 contributed by the transportation sector.

Source: Environmental and Energy Benefits of Geothermal Heat Pumps

A typical 3-ton residential geoexchange system produces an average of about one pound less carbon dioxide (CO2) per hour of use than a conventional system. To put that in perspective, over an average 20-year lifespan 100,000 units of nominally-sized residential geoexchange systems will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1.1 million metric tons of carbon equivalents. That would be the equivalent of converting about 58,700 cars to zero-emission vehicles or planting more than 120,000 acres of trees.

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

Download our Geoexchange Fact Sheet to read more about the benefits a system can bring to your home. <Need Link, or delete text>

There are more than one million installations in Canada and 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 geoexchange is growing rapidly (about 20% every year) as more learn about the technology.
While many homes have been fitted with geoexchange systems, a large number of commercial enterprises—including factories, retail stores, office buildings and schools—also use them to save energy and protect the environment. In fact, there are more than one million installations in the United States today.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), schools are a particularly attractive place for the use of technology. Across the country, schools 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 carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year.

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

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

Yes geoexchange technology can be used in any part of the country because it transfers heat to and from the earth—which remains at a relatively constant temperature—rather than the air where temperatures can vary greatly.
Not necessarily; it depends on how you measure cost. While they sometimes cost more to install in homes than conventional systems because of the ground loop piping, geoexchange systems typically have the lowest life-cycle cost of any heating and cooling system. Heating and cooling costs for a typical 2,000-sq.-ft. home can run as low as $1 a day.

Installation costs have also declined substantially in recent years and are expected to continue to fall as more builders and contractors offer geoexchange systems and as the industry develops innovative ways to install the systems faster and more efficiently.

Altogether geoexchange systems are a sound investment. The amount they save the homeowner every month in energy costs is more than enough to offset their higher installation cost. They also provide extra savings on repair, maintenance and hot water bills.

The energy efficiency of the system adds value to the home. The National Association of Realtors relies on the Appraisal Journal to help you determine the total value of your home. An October 1998 article printed in the Journal states that a home’s value increases by $10 to $25 for every $1 reduction in utility bills. That’s a lot of equity to build just by choosing geoexchange.

The prices have a wide range based on a number of variables—including your home or building’s size and design, the brand and model you choose and location. However, you may be surprised how affordable it is.

To find out how much it would cost to add a geoexchange system into your home or business, contact GeoForce Energy Solutions for an estimate. <Link!>

The answer to this question depends on what it would have cost you if you were operating another heating and cooling system and how much lower your bills will be when you’re using the geoexchange system. Ask your contractor to give you an estimated life-cycle cost analysis. This will tell you about how much it will cost you to operate the system and how long it will take for the savings to cover the cost of the system completely.
The size of the system depends on the size and design of your home or building. Contact a GeoForce Energy Solutions representative—we will assess all the variables of your unique installation. <Link!>