Geothermal Well Drilling Basics
Geothermal wells are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way of heating and cooling a building. With increased energy use and the growing concern for climate change, alternative ways of heating & cooling homes are becoming popular. Geothermal wells are perhaps the most cost-effective and efficient solution. We’ll explain how it works and how to go about choosing a system that is right for your home or building.
Reasons to switch to Geothermal
They boast relatively low operating costs after installation (a 1,200 sq-foot home, for example, will incur a heating or cooling cost of $38 per month.) This is a noticeable decrease for anyone using a gas furnace to heat their home. In BC’s winter, residents often incur double if not triple this amount from gas companies to heat their home. With a geothermal system, you will incur greater costs with the initial installation. However, the long-term pay-off leads to savings which will eventually surpass what you spent in the first place, and will have long-term benefits to your family and anyone else who will live on the property.
On top of that, it is safe to assume that a geothermal heating/cooling system will raise the value of respective property where it is installed. Relatively low maintenance costs and significant savings make geothermal an option that many homeowners and property managers can’t afford to ignore.
Initial Important Information
There are two main types of geothermal heating/cooling systems: Closed Loop & Open Loop. Closed Loop systems are the most common geothermal heating systems built on properties without existing high-capacity water wells. Closed Loop geothermal projects comprise horizontal loop systems, vertical loop and pond/lake loop systems, respectively. A closed loop system is normally reserved for smaller properties, urban areas and new constructions.
Open Loop geothermal heating systems are build on rural properties with no fewer than two existing water wells, and pump groundwater from an aquifer through a well and into a ground source heat pump. After the heat pump takes the energy from the water, it is then cycled into the second well and then back into the aquifer.
Closed Loop Systems
The horizontal loop geothermal system is the most common geothermal system installed on new construction projects and in rural areas. Essentially, the horizontal loop system is most effective when there is enough area to allocate on the property for the trench. It involves a continuous loop of high-density geothermal pipe buried approximately 6-feet deep in a trench. Usually, 600 ft of geothermal pipe per nominal ton is required. For example, a 1,200 sq foot home requires approximately 3,200 ft of looped geothermal pipe in its yard.
This style of geothermal heating system is commonly implemented in urban areas where space is limited. It takes longer to install, because you have to drill straight down into the ground, from 180 ft to 550 ft. This approach requires far less geothermal pipe, but installation costs will be higher due to labour and drilling.
This method of geothermal heating is very similar to horizontal loop systems, with one key difference: It uses a nearby pond or lake instead of a ditch you need to dig yourself with an excavator. Two pipes are buried from the house or property and placed in the lake. The two pipes then draw energy from the water directly into the heat pump. The body of water should be at least 6 feet deep. In most circumstances, the pond/lake loop geothermal system requires less geothermal pipe than horizontal or vertical open loop geothermal systems.
Open Loop Systems
An Open Loop geothermal system is built on properties with two existing wells, as mentioned above. Larger rural properties tend to be the best candidates for an open loop geothermal heating system because they have a large amount of square footage to work with and existing wells already constructed. The water from the supply wells is used to heat the property in the winter and as a heat sink during the hotter months of the year.
The benefit of an open loop geothermal system is that it draws power directly out of the water itself, instead of waiting for a water solution to travel through a series of looped pipes.
A well-constructed Open Loop System can save a home or property owner massive amounts of money overtime. Depending on certain conditions, a 5,000-ft square foot home can save up to $3,000 in energy costs vs using a propane system.
In a nutshell, it’s a worthy investment to look into geothermal heating/cooling systems for your home or property, especially if you are building it from the ground up. Population is increasing globally at a staggering rate, and energy costs will never go down. Absorbing the installation cost of a geothermal system is one of the best home renovation investments you can ever make.
(Images courtesy of www.geosmartenergy.com)