By Steve Hanley
Have you heard of home geothermal heating and cooling? It’s an energy system that can save homeowners serious money on utility bills.
Unfortunately, many people have never heard of home geothermal, or they don’t understand it. A lot of people think it has something to do with capturing heat from volcanoes or geysers.
That would be pretty tricky to pull off for most homeowners, and it would seriously limit the number of people who could take advantage of geothermal energy.
Thankfully, you don’t have to live anywhere near an active volcano to have an effective, money-saving home geothermal system installed.
Home geothermal heating and cooling is actually fairly simple. Here’s how it works.
How does home geothermal energy work?
The temperature of the earth 10 feet below surface level is a constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit year round.
When the air outside your home is below freezing, just 10 feet below the snow-covered ground it’s still 55 degrees. Or when summer brings 96-degree weather, the earth beneath your house keeps steady at 55 degrees.
You have probably experienced this phenomenon at home without even realizing it. When you go into your basement on a hot day, it’s nice and cool down there because the earth on the other side of your foundation is, you guessed it, 55 degrees.
In the winter, even an unheated basement stays relatively warm because of that consistent 55-degree insulation from the surrounding earth.
Geothermal systems, such as the Dandelion Energy system, take advantage of this naturally occurring constant. They harness the steady temperature surrounding any home to heat or cool it as needed.
Although it’s referred to as geothermal energy, geothermal and other home geothermal systems don’t make electricity. They use the sustained temperature of the ground to heat or cool your home.
Differences between geothermal systems
Though many geothermal systems are similar, there are differences between them. Some used a closed or open loop system, pond loops, or slinky coil ground loops.
There are pros and cons to the various loop configurations for geothermal home heating. Dandelion engineers use closed-loop systems. They see them as the most efficient and safest option for homeowners.
When a Dandelion system is installed, closed-loop pipes with a water solution are buried in the ground beneath your home. “Closed loop” means the pipes are contained only to your house. They aren’t connected to a larger infrastructure, and won’t interact with any fluid outside your system.
As this water circulates through Dandelion’s pipes, the water solution within the pipes changes temperature. In the wintertime, this 55-degree solution is warmer than the outside air.
Dandelion’s system pulls this warm solution through the pipes and uses a heat pump to warm the air from your home. This allows you to adjust the air in your home to whatever temperature you desire.
The same principle works in reverse in the summertime when Dandelion’s system uses the temperature of the ground to cool the air in your house.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a crisp 65 degrees or a toasty 88 degrees outside. Your geothermal system makes it easy to get comfortable at home.
Is geothermal really worth it?
In the US, heating and cooling residential and commercial buildings contribute about 11 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions.
Home geothermal systems create zero carbon emissions. Over the course of a year, using one Dandelion Energy system reduces enough carbon emissions to equal removing two cars from the road.
These wonders of engineering are also safer for your home than traditional heating and cooling systems. With Dandelion geothermal, there’s no risk of explosion or carbon monoxide leaks to endanger your family.
Geothermal heating and cooling cost
While the price of electricity, oil, or natural gas fluctuates, the cost of operating a geothermal system will stay pretty much the same. The electricity costs of a geothermal system are low and seldom vary from month to month.
Despite their many advantages, installing a conventional geothermal system for a typical home used to cost up to $50,000 or more.
However, the engineers at Dandelion, a spinoff from a Google X project, set out to drive those costs down. Thanks to their ingenuity, geothermal systems are now affordable to more homeowners.
Instead of using large drill rigs like those used to bore artesian wells, Dandelion began experimenting with smaller, more efficient drills that make one or two deep holes just a few inches wide.
The company then installs U-shaped pipes into these holes. This innovation takes up less space and creates less of a disturbance in the backyards of Dandelion customers.
Using the new equipment, installation of the ground loop pipes can be completed in one day instead of a week, saving customers time and money.
A complete Dandelion Home Geothermal System typically costs $18,000 to $20,000. Dandelion has a no-money-down financing plan allowing homeowners to install a geothermal system with no upfront cost, and with payments of around $135 per month.
That’s a significant decrease from current utility bills.
This post was supported by Dandelion; images and video from the company