Sunday, November 17, 2013

Geothermal energy – Quick homeowners guide

Geothermal energy is a very interesting alternative to traditional fossil fuels in many parts of the world, not just for the electricity generation but also for heating and cooling purposes. By using more geothermal energy instead of solely relying on coal, oil and natural gas we could help lower global carbon footprint, and thus help our planet tackle the threats of climate change and global warming.

According to a U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency geothermal energy is one of the most efficient and environmentally-friendly options to heat and cool your home. The number of households that employ this source of energy for lowering their electric bill and helping the environment is constantly growing, not just in United States but the rest of the globe too.

The working principle of geothermal energy is not that complicated - geothermal energy uses the natural heat flow inside the earth (from the radioactive decay of elements) for heating and cooling purposes. Geothermal heat pumps, once installed, take heat from underground, and send the energy to the surface to use for heating purposes. For cooling purposes, the opposite is done and the heat is taken away.

The costs of installing geothermal system are significantly higher compared to those of a traditional heating/cooling system, but the total investment will usually be paid off in only a few years’ time – this is since the monthly savings can be pretty substantial because geothermal heating systems are, in average, 50-70% more efficient traditional heating and cooling systems; it has been calculated that some systems can save the homeowners up to 50% on the water heating bill just by preheating the tank water.

Geothermal systems are also connected with easy maintenance and with very little upkeep. In many states there are different manufacturing companies, utilities, and lending institutions that offer rebates and incentives to install geothermal heating and cooling systems.

More geothermal energy instead of staying with fossil fuels does not only mean less greenhouse gas emissions, but also helps lower the threat of ozone layer destruction - by using factory-sealed refrigeration systems.

Geothermal heat pumps are about the size of traditional heating/cooling units. After you install geothermal heat pumps the only costs connected with them will be the electricity that needed to operate the pump, compressor and fan, otherwise they are completely "free" energy. Their electricity needs are fairly low as they do not need large amounts of electricity to function properly.

There are many reasons to give geothermal energy a chance, both economical as well as environmental. The popularity of geothermal energy will no doubt continue to grow in years to come, not just because world is looking for new clean energy solutions, but also because further technological advancement will lead to better cost-competiveness of geothermal systems.

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