Find us on ProudGreenHome.com as the Green Home Gurus and join in the conversation! This was the first entry- just to get you started…
What could be more natural than using the consistency of the earth’s geothermal energy?
When was the last time you got into a discussion about green building? Did you talk about the “s” word? Sustainability? Did you happen to get into an enthralling conversation about heat loss and energy efficiency? Have you ever had to talk about geothermal energy? Well, on a flight back to the DC Metro area, I was thrilled to talk to my new found in-flight-friend about the energy efficient home he and his wife plan on building out in Lynchburg, VA. Not necessarily known for their sustainable building practices, the good folks of Lynchburg are starting to take advantage of the geothermal energy option for heating and cooling their homes.
What exactly is geothermal energy? If we roll ourselves back to 6th grade science class, some of us may remember the Greek words geo, meaning earth, and therme meaning heat, so- the earth’s heat. What’s so great about geothermal energy is that it comes straight from the earth’s core and we are able to create systems to heat and cool whole buildings. By finding areas of constant temperature through the practice of digging down into wells and piping the naturally heated water, we can harness the earth’s own energy to sustain our heating and cooling. This is a concept as old as the earth itself (since it comes from the earth). Ancient cultures used to use water from the hot springs to bath and find warmth. In 1904 (not to say that it ancient by any stretch of the imagination) machines were experimented with such as the one found above to create electricity from geothermal energy.
My new buddy out of Lynchburg mentioned that they are not going to be drilling a deep vertical well; however they will be utilizing the technique of digging about 7-10 feet down in the earth, to where to earth is a constant temperature and creating a system of coiled tubes that will be filled with water. This is much like the radiant heating systems that people put into the flooring to heat and cool their homes. The horizontal system is much less expensive than the vertical counterpart; however does require more land space for the excavation and implementation of the coiled tubing.
The US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has proclaimed the use of geothermal energy the cleanest, most cost effective way to manage temperature. It is interesting to note this since President Obama announced the plan to have the US running on 85% clean energy by 2035. The US currently leads the world in geothermal energy production, with most of the deep geothermal wells being out west in California, Nevada as well as a few other locations. No matter where you are, be it Lynchburg, Virginia, or LA, there is the opportunity to discover the benefits of this clean, cost effective energy option.