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In order to full under stand geothermal heating and cooling you first need to understand what geothermal energy is. Geothermal energy is a form of energy conversion that is provided by nature and that can be used by humans to cook, bath, heating and generate electric power. The energy is created by capturing and harnessing the heat energy. This heat is formed underground and is created by the radioactive decay of certain elements such as potassium, thorium, and uranium in Earth. One way to produce energy from geothermal heat is to use the heat to create steam to drive turbines that spin an electric generator, this method and others like it can create about 1,400,000 terawatt-years roughly three times the world’s annual consumption(Lund 2014).
Geothermal heating and cooling is doing through a geothermal heat pump, geothermal heat pump use the stable temperatures that occur within the first thousand feet of Earth’s surface. This area of the Earth’s surface is called the lithosphere the temperatures in this area can be between forty and eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Geothermal heat pumps can be no more than five hundred feet below the Earth’s surface, the temperature in this area is between fifty and sixty degrees Fahrenheit which is ideal for regulating temperature of buildings. Geothermal heat pumps are able to heat the building in the colder months and cool building in hotter months by transferring heat energy from the ground to the air at the surface through use of a fluid. There are two types of geothermal heat pump systems: the closed loop the fluid is in a system of looping pipes buried in the ground, the other is an open loop system that uses groundwater as a heat exchanger.
In a typical household thirty-one of the energy consumption is for heating and cooling, geothermal heating and cooling can save on energy consumption up to fifty percent, and the amount of greenhouse gases that get emitted up forty percent when compared to mechanical based heat pump.
Mechanical based heat pumps systems all have some common components: a compresser, a condenser, and an evaporator. The whole system is made of pipes that circulate a fluid that allows the transfer of heat. The evaporator is what transfer heat from the air in the room to the fluid inside of the system of pipes. The condenser is what takes the heat from the fluid and transfers it to the air outside.
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A geothermal heat pump takes the condenser that would be outside normally be on the side of a house used to transfers the heat from the fluid to the outside air. And would replaced it with a heat exchange like the one is in the example given in Figure 3. This heat exchange is a series of looped pipes buried in the ground. Since the pipe is under ground and we now know the pipe should be buried at a depth between twenty-six to five hundred feet below the Earth surface where the temperature is averages in the fifties degrees Fahrenheit. Now that heat exchange is in the ground and at fifty degrees the work needed to be done on the fluid does not have be as high as before in order to create entropy to allow the transfer of heat. Look at an example if it is a hot summer day and it ninety degrees outside and the inside is seventy a mechanical heat pump would have work to create the necessary entropy to allow the heat to follow from cold to hot. But if you take the same day and use a geothermal heat pump the amount of work necessary would be less due that the outside (heat exchange) temperature is fifty and ninety this stead temperature of the underground heat exchange make the geothermal heat pump efficient in both summer and in winter. Since the work is being done electricity this would mean you electric consumption would be less and the greenhouse gasses that get produces to create electricity would be less.
Geothermal heat pumps can be a great investment, they can save you money on electricity consumption by how efficient that are, the can help the plant by reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses that get produces, and there many tax breaks being offer by local and federal governments for people you have them installed.
Egg, J., & Howard, B. C. (2011). Geothermal HVAC green heating and cooling. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Lund, J. (n.d.). geothermal energy (physics). Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved , from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/230403/geothermal-energy
How do geothermal heat pumps work?. (n.d.). The Blogs at HowStuffWorks RSS. Retrieved , from http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/brainstuff/how-do-geothermal-heat-pumps-work/