Geothermal technology part of a smart business plan
Business owners and entrepreneurs seeking environmentally friendly and cost-effective ways to ‘go green’ need look no further than the systems they are using to heat and cool their office and commercial spaces. This is where businesses can reap tremendous cost savings while simultaneously reducing Canada’s carbon footprint.
June 16, 2009 By Cheryl Marco
With federal and provincial government incentives in place across the country, the time has never been better to replace costly oil, gas or propane heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems with cleaner, sustainable energy alternatives like geothermal technology.
Consider this. The most efficient of the geothermal systems available on the market today generates almost five dollars worth of energy output to heat and cool an office building for every dollar of energy it uses to run the system’s heat pump. That represents an efficiency rating of nearly 500 per cent. Compare that with the 97 cents worth of energy that conventional furnaces deliver for the same dollar.
Geothermal technology can also reduce annual costs for heating, cooling and hot water by as much as 80 per cent. Installed in new construction, return on investment can be seen almost immediately. When installed as a replacement system, the investment can be recovered through energy savings within just a few years.
From an environmental perspective, the impact is impressive. Not only does it not emit harmful greenhouse gas emissions, it purifies the air in the building, filtering out irritants like dust and pollen. This is a short introduction to the technology.
About Geothermal Technology
Throughout the year, 50 per cent of the sun’s energy is absorbed into the earth where it maintains a consistent temperature just a few feet below the ground’s surface. Geothermal technology taps into the earth’s natural heating and cooling properties through a series of underground loops connected to a compact geothermal heat pump inside the building.
An environmentally friendly antifreeze solution or pure water carries energy through high-density polyethylene pipe — part of an ‘open’ or ‘closed’ loop system — directly into the heat pump. In the winter, the heat pump acts as a furnace, distributing the heat throughout the building using the system’s heat exchanger and compressor. In the summer, it acts as an air conditioner, collecting the heat from the building and distributing it into a domestic hot water tank or back into the earth through the loop system.
When installed properly, the loop system will last for generations, while the heat pump, protected from the elements, promises years of reliable, low maintenance, worry-free operation.
Geothermal Loop Systems
Geothermal installations use one of two loop systems: open or closed. The most common is the closed loop system. It’s extremely reliable, requires little maintenance and generates low operating costs. It also offers three installation options.
Horizontal Loop – This is the most commonly installed closed loop system, often used in rural and new construction areas given the land space needed for installation. A continuous loop of high density geothermal pipe is buried in five to six foot deep trenches which are then backfilled with soil.
Vertical Loop – This approach is typically used in urban areas because it requires little space for installation. A specially designed geothermal driller is used to bore vertical holes in the ground ranging from 180 to 540 feet deep. The pipe is looped within the holes and the holes are then filled with bentonite grout.
Pond/Lake Loop – This approach can be used on properties that have a nearby lake or pond that is appropriate in size and eight feet deep. A loop system can be submerged at the bottom of the body of water connected to two pipes buried in the ground that carry the earth’s energy from the lake or pond to a heat pump in the building. This is a cost effective approach as it involves little excavation of the property.
Open Loop – An open loop system is typically used on rural properties that have two existing high capacity water wells. It is considered to be the most efficient of the loop systems. Ground water is withdrawn from an aquifer through a supply well and pumped into the heat pump, while discharged water from the heat pump is redirected into a second well and back into the aquifer.
As with any heating and cooling system, the temperature of the indoor environment can be controlled using a thermostat.
Geothermal technology is not only effective – it’s adaptable. There is a geothermal solution for every building type and every climate. It is one of the cleanest, most environmentally friendly, cost-effective and energy efficient ways for businesses to ‘go green’.
Cheryl Marco is the President of GeoSmart Energy. GeoSmart Energy is a leading geothermal heating and cooling supplier to residential and commercial markets. As one of the largest purveyors of geothermal technology and training, GeoSmart Energy is continually asked globally for their knowledge and geothermal implementation expertise. Visit the company at www.geosmartenergy.com.
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