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Geothermal energy is a renewable resource that comes from the natural heat of the earth. It is also known as geoexchange, ground source heat pump, or ground source heat exchange. Geothermal systems use the earth’s natural heat to either heat or cool buildings and other spaces. Instead of using solar panels to harness solar energy, geothermal energy directly uses naturally-heat from the earth. Solar photovoltaic panels are one of the most popular sources of renewable energy because they are cost-effective, lightweight, reliable and easy to install. However, there are some instances where geothermal energy may be better than solar for your home or business.
How Does Geothermal Energy Work?
Geothermal systems use the earth’s constant temperature of about 55 degrees to heat or cool air for buildings, homes and businesses. A geothermal system uses a network of pipes (see diagram above) that are installed several feet underground. These pipes are made from a material that is non-metallic so it does not rust or corrode. The pipes are connected to a heat pump that transfers heat from the earth and transfers it to your building. In the winter, the system works in reverse. The heat pump transfers heat from inside your building and transfers it back into the earth. This process is known as geothermal heating and cooling, or geothermal HVAC. The constant temperature underground means you may not have to change the temperature of your home or business throughout the year. Since the earth stays at a constant temperature year round, a geothermal system uses less energy as compared to a solar system.
Benefits of Geothermal Energy
Here are some of the benefits of geothermal energy:
- Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source. Unlike fossil fuels, geothermal energy is constantly being produced by the earth. This means that once a geothermal system is installed, it will never run out.
- Geothermal systems are cost-effective. While initial costs may be higher than solar panels, in the long term, geothermal energy may be more cost-effective.
- Geothermal systems do not pollute the air or water. Using solar panels releases toxins into the air that can be harmful to humans.
- Geothermal systems produce less waste than solar panels. Solar panels contain toxic materials like lead, cadmium and chromium that are harmful to humans.
Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy
Here are some of the disadvantages of geothermal energy:
- Geothermal systems require installation of pipes underground. While this is not a major disadvantage, it may be an issue if you rent your home or business.
- Geothermal systems are not as effective in extremely cold areas. Since the earth is always 55 degrees, it can be less effective in areas where temperatures are consistently below 55 degrees.
- Geothermal systems take longer to heat or cool a building than solar systems.
Solar Panel Installation May Be Cheaper
Solar panels come in a variety of sizes and can be installed on the roof of your home or business. They are relatively easy to install and require little maintenance. Geothermal systems are more complex, and involve installing pipes several feet underground. In some cases, solar panel installation may be cheaper when compared to the initial and ongoing costs of installing a geothermal system. The upfront cost of installing a geothermal system may be higher than for solar panels. You also have to consider the initial cost of installing an electricity system to connect the geothermal system to the building. You may also have to hire a contractor to install the system. Solar panels are a one-time purchase, and once they are installed, there are no ongoing costs.
Installing a Geothermal System May Be More Cost Effective
Geothermal systems produce a constant flow of energy. Solar energy fluctuates throughout the day as the sun goes through its different phases. When there is more sun, a solar system produces more energy. When there is less sun, a solar system produces less energy. This means that most of the time, you will be using extra energy to power your home or business when there is more sun, and less energy when there is less sun. This can impact your energy bill and may be more cost-effective with a geothermal system.
Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy that is constantly being produced by the earth. It is often used to heat or cool buildings and other spaces. Solar panels are one of the most popular sources of renewable energy because they are cost-effective, lightweight, reliable and easy to install. Geothermal energy directly uses naturally-heat from the earth. Solar panels are one of the most popular sources of renewable energy because they are cost-effective, lightweight, reliable and easy to install. Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy that comes from the earth’s natural heat. It is used to heat or cool buildings and other spaces. Solar panels are one of the most popular sources of renewable energy because they are cost-effective, lightweight, reliable and easy to install.