Some Interesting Facts about Geothermal Heating & Cooling (Geoexchange)
- Energy costs with Geoexchange typically are 25 to 50 percent less than other HVAC systems.
- The use of Geoexchange lowers electricity demand by nearly 1 kW per ton of capacity.
- There are more than 30,000 earth energy installations in Canada that are used for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial applications. Earth energy is used widely in northern Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries, which have adopted the technology quickly. Earth energy is becoming more common in the southern United States where it’s used to cool buildings.
- Those 30,000 installations are equivalent to:
- Converting 50,000 cars to zero-emission vehicles,
- Planting 19 million trees,
- Reducing Canadian reliance on imported fuels by 1 million barrels of crude oil per year or,
- Eliminating the need for one 130 MW power plant.
- Because they burn no fossil fuels on site, Geoexchange systems generate much less CO2 emissions.
- For businesses, Geoexchange systems provide the architect with optimal design flexibility because the roof and landscape are free of chillers, air handlers and other outdoor equipment. In addition, with Geoexchange systems, boiler rooms can be eliminated and the size of mechanical rooms can be reduced.
- Because Geoexchange systems are so flexible, they are ideal for renovating buildings with historical merit. One successful strategy is to use smaller heat pumps dispersed in closets, basements, and attics to provide space conditioning and ventilation with minimal ducting. Additionally, there are no unsightly condensers on the roof or grounds to distract from the building’s historic charm.
- The elimination of outdoor or rooftop equipment means the Geoexchange system is not exposed to temperature extremes, dirt, pollution or vandalism.
- Geoexchange systems have a lower life-cycle cost than conventional systems, even in hot, humid regions where the demand for air conditioning is high. Geoexchange systems also have long equipment life (20 + years). Operation and maintenance (O&M ) of commercial geoexchange systems exceeds energy savings and payback on commercial projects is typically less than 5 years.
- If every school district that needed to replace heating and cooling systems in Canada over the next 10 years decided to install Geoexchange systems, the total energy savings over that time would exceed $1 billion.
- The electricity required to power one hundred thousand homes for one year would be saved, if every school that could use Geoexchange did so.
Commercial and Institutional Savings
A study of the commercial and institutional energy market examined the cost of using an earth energy system in 135 scenarios. These scenarios included using earth energy systems in elementary and high schools, senior-citizen complexes, high-technology facilities, curling rinks and hockey arena, mid-sized hotels and motels, suburban offices, retail strip malls and high-rise condominiums.
In 133 of 135 scenarios, earth energy was found to be less expensive over the life of the system when compared to systems such as gas- or oil-fired boilers. Earth energy’s total costs were deemed to be marginal in eight scenarios. In 88 scenarios, the simple payback period was less than five years.
Source: Natural Resources Canada, “Ground Source Heat Pump Market Development Strategy,” 1999; report prepared by Marbek Resource Consultants Ltd.