Want to really reduce your carbon footprint for a long-long time and never have much of a heating or cooling bill ever again?
For centuries, humans have extracted underground resources to fuel our energy-intensive lifestyles. Ironically, these deep underground reserves are already nice and toasty so they are really a ready-to-use energy source!
The Earth is constantly generating an abundance of heat from within – aka geothermal energy. This comes from the radioactive decay of minerals, solar energy absorbed at the surface, tectonic plate activity, and volcanic activity.
In case you haven’t already guessed, it is being discussed on Green Blizzard because geothermal energy reduces your carbon footprint through being a renewable and environmentally friendly source of power.
In days past, geothermal energy was restricted to areas near tectonic plate boundaries, but recent innovations in technology now enable us to harvest this energy from many more places. And unlike solar or wind energy, which rely on minimal shading, good sunlight, and a south-facing roof, or consistent streams of wind, respectively, geothermal energy is less site-constrained since sub-surface temperatures remain relatively constant regardless of where you are in the US. Ergo facto: literally, the earth can “help to power” your home. A common “earth-fueling” system is the geothermal heat pump.
As with any novel innovation, geothermal heat pumps are expensive. They cost $2,500 per ton of capacity, and regularly a home uses about three tons, so $2,500 x 3 = $7,500 (if you want a 100% geothermal-powered home). On top of this, you must pay for drilling to put the system underground.
This can cost between $10,000 and $30,000 depending on the depth and terrain of the drilling site, among other things.
Fortunately there is a federal tax credit which pays for 30% of the cost of such a system (no upper limit). There may be additional state and local incentives available as well.
Also, you will save in energy costs. Heat pumps counter-intuitively can heat and cool a home, and depending on the system also supply the home with hot water. Also, keep in mind you will appreciate your home’s value and that the system’s life is at least 25 years, with only some maintenance costs thereafter.
For a precise description and diagram of how geothermal heating systems work, check out this link.
Additionally this page goes through the different types of geothermal heat pumps. Don’t get too caught in the details though. Remember geothermal’s place in our sustainable future: it’s a type of renewable energy. Try using the following poem as a mnemonic device for remembering the renewable energies:
We have solar power from above
Geothermal from below and,
Wind from in between!
I have never seen or heard this saying before, so as far as I’m concerned, I’m taking credit for it. Thank the Earth for making this nifty poem even possible.
Here are some interesting links explaining how it all works – Video