Ground source heat pump technology is the wave of the future, but the concept isn't new at all. Lord Kelvin developed the concept of the heat pump in 1852. In the late 1940's, Robert C. Webber, a cellar inventor, was experimenting with his deep freezer. He dropped the temperature in the freezer and touched the outlet pipe and almost burned his hand. He realized heat was being thrown away, so he ran outlets from his freezer to his boilers and provided his family with more hot water than they could use! There was still wasted heat, so he piped hot water through a coil and used a small fan to distribute heat through the house to save coal. Mr. Webber was so pleased with the results that he decided to build a full size heat pump to generate heat for the entire home. Mr. Webber also came up with the idea to pump heat from underground, where the temperature doesn't vary much throughout the year. Copper tubing was placed in the ground and Freon gas ran through the tubing to gather the ground heat. The gas was condensed in the cellar, gave off its heat and forced the expanded gas to go through the ground coil to pick up another load. Air was moved by a fan and distributed into the home. The next year, Mr. Webber sold his old coal furnace.
In the forties, the heat pump was known for its superior efficiency. The efficiency was especially useful in the seventies. The Arab oil embargo awakened conservation awareness and launched interest in energy conservation despite cheap energy prices. That is when Dr. James Bose, professor at Oklahoma State University, came across the heat pump concept in an old engineering text. Dr. Bose used the idea to help a homeowner whose heat pump was dumping scalding water into his pool. Dr. Bose fashioned the heat pump to circulate the water through the pipes instead of dumping the water into the pool. This was the beginning of the new era in geothermal systems. Dr. Bose returned to Oklahoma State University and began to develop his idea. Since then, Oklahoma has become the center of ground source heat pump research and development. The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association was formed in Oklahoma, and is based on the campus of Oklahoma State University, where Dr. Bose serves as executive director.
Today, Tuscany Design Build, Inc offers you the opportunity to obtain the “green” home of your dreams. As the the first Energy Star Crafted builders in the state of Connecticut, we have the best experience and expertise available. In 1993, Glastonbury, Connecticut, Tuscany Design Build, Inc was the first builder in the state to use "green", or energy sustainable, technology. We created the first energy crafted home by implementing geo-exchange systems, along with high efficiency products.
If you are considering implementing geothermal or geoexchange in your home, it's very important to realize that everything must be planned to the"T" before hand. Every aspect must be designed ahead of time, and there are lot of factors involved that can easily pose problems later on in the project.
Consider for example, the quality, type, and geographical location of the soil that the system is built on. Below is the temperature swings of a loamy sand found in the Manchester CT area throughout the year at 0 ft, 6 ft, 8 ft, and 16 ft. If you installed your geothermal loops at a depth of 6 ft, you're gonna find the coldest ground temperature in March. Turning on the system for heat then would be the most inefficient, because it would the hardest to extract the heat out of the ground. So the question is, if you are living in Manchester in the month of March, and your property has the properties of Loamy Sand, are you gonna be using heat in March? If you are, you're going to need more piping in the ground to compensate and pick up the extra btu's.
Another option is to dig down at 8 ft. At such a depth the ground temperature is less drastic, its coldest being in mid April. Fortunately, April in Manchester is about the same time the air above starts getting warm. You wouldn't need the heat as much, and you'd be saving money from installing less piping in the ground. Obviously, the more efficient depth would be 16 ft or below, where the earth's thermal dynamics are pretty much constant. But digging at such a depth might be cost prohibitive. Of course, there are many alternatives, such as perhaps, installing the pipe vertically in the ground or maybe implementing a "slinky" method of laying down the piping to save space. Hence the purpose of research, analysis, and design. That's the best way to be the most efficient with the building materials along with keeping a modest budget.
"It's all about design." - Peter Governale, company owner
Green Building Initiatives, Technology and Organizations
We are members of the The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA)
Do you know what a Ground Source Heat Pump is...?
"Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are electrically powered systems that tap the stored energy of the greatest solar collector in existence: the earth. These systems use the earth's relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings."
Here's a paper explaining how Ground Source Heat Pumps Work from Professor Kavanaugh, Professor of Mechanical engineering University of Alabama. It is a PDF and will download when you click on the image.
For a more indepth look on how Geothermal began and how it works, please see this slide show here, or this video here, courtesy of the Geothermal Education office.
About The U.S. Green Building Council
"The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices. USGBC is composed of more than 13,500 organizations from across the building industry that are working to advance structures that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work." ... read more on their website...
The list is practically endless. But so far geoexchange is one of the most efficient ways to heat your home. There's virtually no noise nor maintanance, the system is very durable, and the energy is clean and safe - no combustion, no pollution, no lost heat or waste.
If you compared the annual costs of Natural Gas, Fuel Oil, Propane, and Electric Heat with Geo, you'd find Geo trumps them all with room to spare. Natural Gas is about 1.4 times more expensive to use than Geo, so by going geoexhange you'd save 27%. With Fuel Oil, which is 1.7 times more, you'd save 42% by going geo. Propane, which is 2.2 times more, you'd save 53%. Electric, which is 3.5 times more, you'd save 71%! Keep in mind these are the figures without fuel delivery costs or additional maintenance costs!
Given the difference in rising utility prices in todays energy market, by going Geo you immediately recieve a positive monthly cashflow - instant savings. Although geoexchange can be a large investment, its long term savings outweigh any upfront expenses. You will see a system payback in as little as 5-7 years with the savings alone. But there are many other reasons to go geo.
300,000 installed last year in commercial and residential in the US.
Saves 40 millions btu's of fossil fuels.
Removes 1.3 million cars off the road.
Equivalent to planting 385 million trees.
Eliminates 5.8 million tons of CO2 every year.
What's the difference between Geothermal and Geoexchange?
Geothermal primarily uses extreme heat from the ground to supply electricity. To use one, you'd need to utilize a geological hotspot, like Yellowstone National Park. Geoexchange however can be implemented anywhere, and continously extracts and deposits small amounts of heat energy which is compressed and released by a heat pump, to either heat or cool your home, saving homeowners literally thousands of dollars in utlity costs every year.
How much does a Geoexchange system cost?
It all depends on design. The type of soil, the area of land you have to work with, the size of the home, and how well insulated the house is can greatly affect the price of installation. The more space your house has that needs heating, the bigger the system needs to be to heat it. That's why preliminary analysis of the site is a must. For a well-insulated average sized American home, the typical cost of a system ranges from $25,000 - $30,000.
What kind of heat pump would you recommend using?
Hydron Module is an amazing system for both residential and commercial use, and we'd have to recommend that to anybody asking. Check out their website here.