Geothermal Energy Systems: Clean, Free Energy Underfoot

July 26, 2017

It’s never too early or too late to think about how you are going to heat your home or business during the winter. Likewise, you are probably concerned about the energy you are using right now to keep your building cool and comfortable during these warm summer days. It may be surprising to discover that almost 50 percent of a building’s energy bills go towards heating, cooking, and hot water. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the efficiency of your home or business heating system whenever you build or remodel. You might even want to consider installing a completely new heating & cooling system to replace what you’re using now.

Increasing concern among policy makers regarding energy security and environmental sustainability is one of the factors driving the global geothermal heat pump market. Geothermal heating systems utilize energy radiated from the sun and stored underground. Regardless of air temperature, the temperature below the surface stays around 53°. This constant is what allows geothermal HVAC systems to move heat to and from your home. As part of our commitment to staying at the forefront of construction industry innovations, some of the properties built by Meridian Construction utilize geothermal heating systems.

Most geothermal heat pump systems are built with a closed loop design which circulates antifreeze or a refrigerant solution through a closed pipe setup. Piping can be installed either vertically or horizontally underground. During the winter, heat is moved from below the surface into your house through a heat pump. The process is reversed in the summer, where warmer air is drawn out of your home and is sent underground to be cooled. The size and strength of any given system depend on the climate, soil conditions, available land, and installation costs for the property.

Meridian Construction recently installed a state of the art geothermal HVAC system for the Bedford Public Library. This project was made possible through generous grants from the New Hampshire Governor and Executive Council, Public Utilities Commission Renewable Energy Fund and Eversource Energy. Following their Geothermal System Ribbon Cutting on June 22, 2017, the Town of Bedford can now look forward to a year without high heating bills, reduced cooling costs, and lower electricity consumption with their new geothermal heating and cooling system!

Compared with conventional air-source heat pumps, geothermal units are quieter, last longer and need little maintenance. They also do not depend on the temperature of the outside air and have no negative environmental impact. Geothermal systems are incredibly efficient, offering savings between 40 and 60 percent in energy bills. System life is estimated at 25 years for inside components and over 50 years for the underground piping. These benefits make geothermal HVAC systems an attractive feature to potential home buyers and commercial building owners.

Even if your home or business was not originally built with a geothermal heat pump, conversions to geothermal are quite feasible and proving to be very popular as more people make long term plans concerning the market values of their buildings and their environmental impact.

Despite the overwhelming benefits that come from using a geothermal heating system, they are not necessarily for everyone. The initial cost of installing the array of piping is much greater than that of traditional forced air systems. A Canadian website calculates that the upfront cost for installing a geothermal home heating system can run between $20,000 and $30,000.

It is important to examine your construction budget carefully and calculate if the money you will save from lower energy use offsets the cost of installation, and how long that will take. In the case of the Bedford Public Library, the energy efficiency and cost savings of their geothermal system is calculated to offset the cost of a traditional oil or propane system within a decade and the building will be there indefinitely.

Geothermal systems are a worthwhile investment for environmentally conscious home or business owners who also plan on staying in the same place for many years. Federal and state governments may offer grants and tax rebates to help reduce the high cost of installation as was the case with the Bedford Library project.

Energy efficiency is a top priority in new construction today as is upgrading existing properties to utilize the latest energy efficient technologies. About 50,000 geothermal heating systems are installed in the United States every year. Meridian Construction’s trained and certified building experts are here to help you make the switch to clean and efficient temperature control for your home or business.

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