I visited six or seven houses in South Minneapolis during the 2008 Minneapolis/Saint Paul Home Tour-which has come and gone. The most interesting was the house that was remodeled—and the owners put in a geothermal heating and cooling system.
What are geothermal heating and cooling? I’m glad you asked. These days, people are more concerned about the environment. The typical forced-air heating/cooling system uses a lot of fuel as well as electricity in order to run. Logically, the more heat you use in the winter, the more fuel you need to burn.
Conversely, geothermal heating and cooling do not use any fuel at all because they draw on the heat and coolness of the earth, mostly via a geothermal heat pump and a loop—which is usually a vertical or horizontal loop. There is a liquid (coolant) that circulates throughout this pump. The pump runs on electricity. It heats the coolant in the winter and cools it in the summer, with no use of fuel. The heat is put back into the earth in the summer and drawn from the earth in the winter, banking on the earth’s constant temperature of around 50 degrees to disperse the heat easily in summer (rather than trying to disperse 90 degree heat in 80 degree air). In the winter, it draws five degree of heat from the earth’s core, and the compressor takes that five degrees and expands it to as much as 165 degrees to heat your house.
I know, it’s a lot to take in, but all you need to know is that it will lower your heating and cooling bills by quite a bit. The system is not cheap in the beginning . It will cost anywhere from $12,000 to $18,000 to install depending on the size of your house, but the system will eventually pay for itself, and it will leave the earth a better place, too.
The picture is from http://www.econar.com/