Geothermal for your house?
By Trevor Gould
For the longest time, traditional heating and cooling methods have been used in the majority of the world’s households. Yet thanks to the industry’s continuous innovation, a hyper-efficient solution is now widely available in the form of geothermal heating and cooling.
Geothermal heating and cooling systems harness the earth’s stable underground temperature to comfortably heat and cool a living space and are also capable of contributing to or providing all of a home’s hot water needs. This is accomplished by a piping system strategically buried beneath the ground. Water (or a water/anti-freeze solution in colder climates) is circulated through the pipes, absorbing the underground temperature and purposing it accordingly. Despite its vaunted efficiency rate and innovative nature, a geothermal heating/ cooling unit installation isn’t cheap. This is a brief overview explaining how properly investing in this newfound technology can pay dividends in the long run.
What is Geothermal Heating/Cooling?
As mentioned above, the entire concept is built off the utilization of the stable temperature that resides beneath the ground. It’s effective because while the outside temperatures rise and fall with the seasons, the subterranean temperature stays relatively constant, making it an ideal source for both heating and cooling. The convenience is obvious when you consider how when it’s cold outside people need warmth and vice versa.
For heating, the water circulating in the buried pipes absorbs underground heat and then transfers it to the heat pump where it is concentrated and sent as warm, comfortable air into the living space. Cooling reverses the process by removing heat from the air and transporting it underground where it is absorbed by earth. Cooled by the lower underground temperatures, the water is then returned to the heat pump where it can continually extract heat from the home to create cool air.
Monthly Bill Reduction
Everyone dreads that monthly energy bill. It’s a certainty in life, and controllable to a certain extent, but still a nuisance nonetheless. Due to their hyper-efficiency, geothermal systems can drastically reduce your monthly utilities bills by as much as 80 percent. Most are also ENERGY STAR certified, formally verifying their adherence to government energy efficiency standards. Switching from a traditional HVAC system to geothermal can help minimize your monthly utilities bills and help free up additional cash.
Standard HVAC systems consume vast amounts of energy as they toil to extract heat from the cold air. Thanks to their innovative technologies and reliance on the stable underground temperature, geothermal heating and cooling systems are proven to achieve 400-600 percent efficiency. Increased efficiency directly equates to less energy consumed, so owners of geothermal systems can rest easy knowing they’ve effectively reduced the impact of their carbon footprint.
Green is one of the hottest trends currently sweeping across the housing landscape, with eco-friendly building materials and appliances in high-demand. As heating, cooling and hot water systems typically account for 70 percent of a home’s energy consumption, homeowners seeking to do their own part to help the environment should strongly consider a geothermal system installation to reduce the energy consumption of the largest energy-consuming component of their household.
Multitude of Incentives
Thanks to their unrivaled efficiency and growing popularity, many geothermal cooling systems are eligible for a recently established federal tax credit. It grants homeowners permission to deduct 30 percent of the total geothermal system installation cost from their tax liability. Officially titled The Residential Energy Efficient Property Tax Credits program, it occupies part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provides nonrefundable tax credits to enable homeowners to afford qualified residential alternative energy equipment.
Installing a certified geothermal heating and cooling system isn’t a cheap process, but its long-term benefits make it a completely worthwhile investment. Reduced monthly utilities bill, less environmental damage, and tax incentives await those that decide to switch out their old HVAC systems for the ultra-efficiency of geothermal technology.
Author bio: Trevor Gould actively writes about sustainable living, energy consumption and green products.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly