Many countries around the world are now incorporating geothermal heat rather than relying on fossil fuels to heat buildings and homes. An interesting fact I found is that the United States has more geothermal heat capacity than any other country in the world. Most of the capacity is found in California, Oregon and Nevada; however geothermal energy can be used virtually anywhere.
Incorporating geothermal energy involves the process of tapping into the near-constant temperature of the earth below the frost line. Below the earth’s crust is a layer of hot molten rock called magma. Heat is constantly produced there and amount of heat within 10,000 meters (about 33,000 feet) of Earth’s surface contains 50,000 times more energy than all the oil and natural gas resources in the world. (Fact taken from:http://www.ucsusa.org/) This type of heating and cooling system lessens our dependence on fossil fuels and also heats and cools buildings in a cost effective way and also burns clean.
What does all this have to do with timber frame homes? As we build more and more homes, we’re starting to witness a greater interest from our clients in the use of geothermal heat. Davis Frame clients come to us with the understanding that tapping geothermal energy is an affordable and sustainable solution to reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, and the global warming and public health risks that result from their use.
- Costs: typically, a geothermal system costs twice the amount of a conventional system. However, one can expect his or her electric bill to decrease by approximately 25 percent.
- Most geo-exchange systems will be able to provide a significant source for the home’s hot water needs but it’s still a good idea to have a backup heater (in cooler locations).
- Many closed-loop systems rely on an antifreeze solution to keep the loop water from freezing in cold temperature conditions.
- Open-loop systems require a large supply of clean water in order to be cost effective. Because of this, it can be a limiting factor for use in coastal areas or sites adjacent to lakes, streams, or rivers. Additionally, an acceptable method of recycling the used water to the environment must be in place. This may be limited not only by environmental factors (such as no place to dump that much water), but also by local and state regulations.
Regardless, a geothermal (geo-exchange) heating and cooling system is a great solution to consider when building a timber frame home. Combined with solar, use of SIPs, reclaimed or standing dead timber, a new timber frame and post and beam home can be an extremely energy efficient green way to build!
For more information on geothermal, please visit http://www.ucsusa.org/ or feel free to give us a call at 800.636.0993!