Fascinating Facts about Geoexchange
July 1, 2010
The Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium has compiled a wealth of information on ground source heat pump systems that geothermal drilling contractors can use to help market this momentum-charged technology. Here, we highlight some of the consortium’s findings; you can learn a lot more by visiting www.geoexchange.org. The greening of our planet is shifting into a higher gear, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of this trend.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified geothermal heat pumps as a technology that significantly reduces greenhouse gas and other air emissions associated with heating, cooling and water heating in residential buildings, while saving consumers money, when compared to conventional technologies. For every 100,000 units of typically sized residential geothermal heat pumps installed, more than 37.5 trillion BTUs of energy used for space conditioning and water heating can be saved, corresponding to an emissions reduction of about 2.18 million metric tons of carbon equivalents, and cost-savings to consumers of about $750 million over the 20-year-life of the equipment.
Geothermal heat pump systems, also referred to as “geoexchange,” are the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space-conditioning systems available, according to the EPA.
Geothermal heat pumps strengthen domestic energy security. Every 100,000 homes with geothermal heat pump systems reduce foreign oil consumption by 2.15 million barrels annually, and reduce electricity consumption by 799 million kilowatt hours annually.
Geothermal heat pumps are efficient. The use of geoexchange lowers electricity demand by approximately 1 kilowatt per ton of capacity.
Geothermal heat pumps are environmentally friendly. They generate no on-site emissions, and have the lowest emissions among all heating and cooling technologies.
Geothermal heat pumps save money. Schools now using geothermal heat pump systems save more than $25 million in energy costs – meaning more money for books, equipment and teachers. Homeowners can save 25 percent to 50 percent on home electric bills compared to conventional heating and cooling systems. Electric bills for a 2,000 square-foot home can be reduced to as low as $1 a day using a geoexchange system.
Geoexchange systems represent a savings to homeowners of 30 percent to 70 percent in the heating mode, and 20 percent to 50 percent in the cooling mode, compared to conventional systems.
EPA found that geoexchange heating and cooling systems can reduce energy consumption – and corresponding emissions – by more than 40 percent compared to air-source heat pumps, and by over 70 percent compared to electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment.
Geoexchange systems use the Earth’s energy storage capability to heat and cool buildings, and to provide hot water. The earth is a huge energy storage device that absorbs 47 percent of the sun’s energy – more than 500 times more energy than mankind needs every year – in the form of clean, renewable energy. Geoexchange systems take this heat during the heating season at an efficiency approaching or exceeding 400 percent, and return it during the cooling season.
EPA found that, even on a source fuel basis – accounting for all losses in the fuel cycle, including electricity generation at power plants – geoexchange systems are much more efficient than competing fuel technologies. They are an average of 48 percent more efficient than the best gas furnaces on a source fuel basis, and over 75 percent more efficient than oil furnaces. In fact, today’s best geoexchange systems outperform the best gas technology, gas heat pumps, by an average of 36 percent in heating mode, and 43 percent in cooling mode.
The U.S. General Accounting Office estimates that if geoexchange systems were installed nationwide, they could save several billion dollars annually in energy costs and substantially reduce pollution.
Surveys by utilities indicate a higher level of consumer satisfaction for geoexchange systems than for conventional systems. Polls consistently show that more than 95 percent of all geoexchange customers would recommend geoexchange to a family member or friend.
Today, there now are more than a million geoexchange installations in the United States. The current use of geothermal heat pump technology has resulted in the elimination of more than 5.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, and the elimination of more than 1.6 million metric tons of carbon equivalent annually.
These 1,000,000 installations also have resulted in the following energy consumption reductions:
- Annual savings of nearly 8 billion kilowatt
- Annual savings of nearly 40 trillion BTUs of fossil fuels.
- Reduced electricity demand by more than 2.6 million kilowatts.
The monumental impact of the current use of geoexchange is equivalent to taking close to 1,295,000 cars off the road, planting more than 385 million trees, and reducing America’s reliance on imported fuels by 21.5 million barrels of crude oil per year.