Here at the LGA we heat and cool our 3,000 square ft. office with a geothermal system, officially known as an open loop/vertical standing water column (VSWC) system. It was first installed 21 years ago by Harold Rist of Smart-Energy.
All that’s needed to install this type of system is a well that goes at least 15 feet in the ground, and forced air ducts throughout the building. (Your well becomes your self-renewable fuel tank… pretty cool huh?!!)
The same technology we are using here at the LGA can be used anywhere within the Adirondacks – it relies totally on the constant temperature provided by the water deep in a well… you don’t have to be near a natural geothermal feature – like a hot spring – as some people believe. In the Adirondacks, at a 15-foot depth, the earth remains a consistent 50 degrees F, and it is this fact that enables geothermal systems here to work.
You also don’t have to dig up your yard to convert to a geothermal system. If you already have a well, and you have air conditioning, you’re halfway done already!
The geothermal heat pump unit we have here at the LGA is about 7 feet tall and its footprint is about a yard square. It lives in our basement. It’s attached to our water heater, but there is no additional furnace, no additional air conditioner. It’s hooked up to electricity, and to a system of overhead air ducts that travel along the ceiling of the basement. No other pipes or horizontal loops are placed underground or throughout the yard; no outside chimneys or units are needed.
If you’re currently heating your home or business with oil, propane, natural gas or electricity, converting to a geothermal system would not only be good for the environment, it could be great for your pocketbook.
Here at the LGA we’ve been using our geothermal system for 21 years. During that time Smart-Energy estimates that we have saved 60 – 70% annually on energy costs, compared to what we would have spent on a conventional system. That’s money we have been able to spend on lake protection programs, instead of on heat and air conditioning. It’s also the equivalent of not drilling, transporting and burning 320 barrels of oil during that period, according to Smart-Energy.
Geothermal is not only for businesses… homeowners too use them very successfully. LGA Director of Education Emily DeBolt has a geothermal heating and system in her Hartford home and is very satisfied with its performance. “We are very comfortable in both the winter and summer,” she says.
How does geothermal work?
Well water maintains a constant temperature all year long. In our area it is about 50 degrees F no matter what the season. The heat pump in a geothermal system uses the temperature of the well water to heat cold winter air and cool hot summer air. The energy supplied by the earth supplies 75% of the needed energy, both in cooling and in heating a building. Electricity only has to supply the remaining 25% to pump the water, operate a compressor and deliver the heated or cooled air with a fan.
This blog posts was extracted from a longer article in the LGA’s Sept/Oct newsletter. You can read the complete article here, including more info on Geo-thermal efficiency, how it works, possible savings, what it takes to convert, and why you’ll be a LAKE HERO if you convert. (The environmental impact of fossil fuel use.)