Geothermal Heating?
February 15, 2011, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Focusing on Deborah Huso’s discussion in Natural Home Magazine on geothermal heat pumps, which heat and cool homes with no fuel and minimal electricity, using the earth’s internal temperature, I had a thought regarding the U of O. Geothermal systems save 30 to 70 percent on energy bills, which must be outrageously high for a university.  Considering how the U of O gives off the perception of being a “green” campus, wouldn’t this be something right up their alley?  A way to put up or shut up, so to speak?

Huso goes into detail, stating that unlike conventional heat pumps, geothermal systems draw heating and cooling from inside the earth via vertical or horizontal pipes that circulate water or environmentally safe antifreeze through loops underground or submerged in a pond. During the winter, geothermal heat pumps pull warm air from the earth to heat the building, while during the summer, the process works in reverse as the system pulls heat out of the building and pumps it back into the ground.

For an average sized house, it would cost roughly $25,000 to $50,000 to install a geothermal heat pump, so the cost would be exponentially higher for the U of O to put in geothermal systems across campus.  And while they generally cost about 30 percent more than a conventional HVAC system, tax breaks would have paid for the system in a matter of 5-7 years, and would be something the university could claim they have done to better our planet and to promote sustainability.

If only the U of O was willing to set a benchmark for universities around the world, we could be amongst the leading innovators in such a large-scale sustainability movement.

You can view an illustration of how a geothermal system works here.


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