Environmentally responsible technology is becoming more popular and accessible in both new builds and building retrofits. With the overall investment decreasing and the long-term cost savings becoming more evident, more and more residential and commercial project designers are choosing to implement technologies that use renewable sources of energy. Once such technology we’d like to highlight is Geothermal, which is sometimes referred to as “earth energy” or “geoexchange”.
Geothermal technology uses the energy provided by the sun which is absorbed into the earth. This stored energy can be used to heat or cool a building, and provide hot water. The key difference between Geothermal technology and more traditional forms of energy is that instead of energy being created (for example through combustion) in the case of Geothermal technology, energy is transferred between the building and the ground, it is this difference that results in higher efficiency.
There are two types of Geothermal Systems: Open and closed loop systems. Both systems consist of pipes inserted into vertical boreholes, or buried in horizontal trenches. Vertical systems are preferred where space is limited, whereas horizontal systems can be used when there is land available to dig the trenches and insert the pipes.
Closed loop systems tend to be more common, and preferred, because they tend to be more reliable. They are generally made of polyethylene pipe which is buried in the ground or placed in a pond. In a closed loop system, the pipes are filled with a mixed solution of antifreeze and water. This solution is pumped through the heat pump.
An open loop system is used when there is an ample supply of well water to supply the system with a constant flow of water. In an open loop system, well water is pumped through the heat pump and is then returned to the ground through a second well.