This marvelous technology relies primarily on the Earth’s natural thermal energy, a renewable resource, to heat or cool a house or multi-family dwelling. The only additional energy geoexchange systems require is the small amount of electricity they employ to concentrate what Mother Nature provides and then to circulate high-quality heating and cooling throughout the home.
Geoexchange heating and cooling is cost effective because it uses energy so efficiently. This makes it very environmentally friendly, too. For these reasons, federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, as well as state agencies like the California Energy Commission, endorse it.
According to data supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Geothermal Technologies, nearly 40% of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the result of using energy to heat, cool and provide hot water for buildings. This is about the same amount of CO2 contributed by the transportation sector. (source: Environmental and Energy Benefits of Geothermal Heat Pumps)
A typical 3-ton residential geoexchange system produces an average of about one pound less Carbon Dioxide (CO2) per hour of use than a conventional system. To put that in perspective, over an average 20-year lifespan, 100,000 units of nominally sized residential geoexchange systems will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1.1 million metric tons of carbon equivalents.
That would be the equivalent of converting about 58,700 cars to zero-emission vehicles, or planting more than 120,000 acres of trees.
And the waste heat removed from the home’s interior during the cooling season can be used to provide virtually free hot water-resulting in a total savings in hot water costs of about 30% annually, and lowering emissions even further.
Studies show that approximately 70 percent of the energy used in a geoexchange heating and cooling system is renewable energy from the ground. The remainder is clean, electrical energy which is employed to concentrate heat and transport it from one location to another. In winter, the ground soaks up solar energy and provides a barrier to cold air. In summer, the ground heats up more slowly than the outside air.