Geothermal FAQs & Education
Why Go Geo?
Save Money, Increase Home Value and Improve Sustainability
Geothermal has been evolving and is now thought to be one of the most beneficial sources of energy. Because it is renewable and exceeds benchmarks set by traditional power sources, geothermal energy is quickly being adopted by industry-leading farmers and innovative residents around the globe. Turn up the financial return for your farm or house.
Heating and Cooling Systems
How can you use the earth to heat and cool?
Geothermal heating and cooling systems utilize the earth’s temperature to remove heat from buildings during the summer months and supply heat in the winter months. In summer, heat pumps are used to extract heat energy and deposit it deep in the ground, later used to increase the efficiency of your system during the winter months. In effect, Western Canada homeowners can save approximately 50 to 60 percent annually on heating and cooling costs.
Western Canadian homeowners can save approximately
50 to 60 percent annually
on heating and cooling costs
How does geothermal work?
A geothermal system uses energy from the sun, stored in the earth, to keep you in comfort all year round. Even in the winter, when a blanket of snow covers the ground, the earth’s temperature remains approximately 10°C (50°F) at only six feet below the surface. This means that you have a steady supply of heat to keep you in comfort, even in the depths of the coldest winter!
The Ground Loop (Pipes)
Geothermal systems use a series of pipes buried in the ground called a ground loop. An ethanol solution is circulated through the pipes to make them highly efficient conductors of heat. In the winter, the ethanol in the pipes absorbs the heat from the ground and, now warmed up, the fluid is pumped back through the geothermal unit in the house. In the summer, the heat transfer process takes place in reverse. The fluid in the pipes leaves the house in a warm state, but after circulating underground is cooled as the pipes exchange heat with the cooler earth.
The Geothermal Unit (Heat pump)
The underground loops connect to the main geothermal unit installed in your house, and to your home’s forced air (or water radiator) system. Compatible with your home’s distribution system.
Ground Loop Options
A vertical loop field is the most typical installation process for a geothermal heat pump. The average vertical loop for a house could fit in a regular front or backyard. During a vertical loop field installation, a series of holes are drilled, each between 100 – 150 feet deep. Piping is fed down these holes and connected in a header pit. The piping is then grouted in the holes to achieve proper thermo-conductivity to the surrounding earth. Once all of the pipes are connected outside of the home, they are fed through a header trench into your home and connected to the geothermal heat pump. The average vertical loop takes 2 – 5 days to complete.
A horizontal loop installation usually occurs in more rural areas or yards with lots of space. Horizontal loops require a significant amount of land and disturb more area than a vertical loop. The average horizontal loop is approximately the size of a football field. The trenches are 8 – 10 feet deep to ensure the loop is safely below the frost line. Horizontal systems can be installed using an excavator or other ground moving equipment and can be installed in 2 – 5 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a geothermal heat pump?
A geothermal or “ground-source” heat pump is an electrically-powered device that uses the natural heat storage ability of the earth and/or the earth’s groundwater to heat and cool your home or business at very high efficiencies.
How does a geothermal heat pump work?
Like any heat pump, a geothermal pump moves heat energy from one place to another. A geothermal heat pump is like a refrigerator because they work using the same scientific principle. By using refrigeration, the geothermal heat pump removes heat energy stored in the earth and the earth’s groundwater and transfers it to the home.
How is heat transferred from the ground to my home?
The earth can absorb and store heat energy. To use that stored geothermal energy, it is extracted from the earth through a liquid circulated in the ground via a loop. The energy is transferred to the heat pump heat exchanger where the heat is used to heat your home. In the summer, the process is reversed, and indoor heat is extracted from your home and transferred to the earth through the liquid circulating in the loops underground.
Does a geothermal unit take up lots of space?
Most of the components of a geothermal system are buried in the ground and the rest can be installed in the basement or garage, so the entire system doesn’t take up much space.
Do I need separate geothermal ground loops for heating and cooling?
No, the same loop works for both. When changing from heating to cooling, or vice versa, the flow of heat is reversed by a mechanism inside the unit.
How long will my loop last?
Properly installed, these pipes will last over 50 years.
Will the loop effect my lawn and landscaping?
No, research has proven that loops have no adverse effect on grass, trees or shrubs. Most horizontal loop installations use trenches about three feet wide or less. This, of course, will leave temporary bare areas that can be restored with grass seed or sod. Vertical loops require less space and result in minimal lawn damage.
Are they any rebates available for geothermal?
No, at this time there is no provincial or federal rebate programs.
Are there any other loop options?
There are two other loop options that miEnergy does not offer or recommend for its projects:
- Lake or pond loops. A pond loop field can be installed when the property is located near a large body of fresh water such as a pond or lake. In Saskatchewan, our harsh winters require geothermal loops have access to reliable sources of energy. If the body of water does not have the proper capacity, it will not be able to generate the energy needed to sustain proper heat throughout the winter. Also, there are environmental policies restricting the excavation of trenches from the body of water to the structure.
- Open loops. An open loop requires an ample source of groundwater. A well is drilled into a water source, it is then circulated to the heat pump— where heat is extracted—and sent down a return well where it re-enters the water source. Open loops are less common because they require a significant and constant water source below the surface.
With vertical and horizontal ground loops, miEnergy can be confident your geothermal system will operate correctly for the lifetime of the system.
How long will my equipment last?
Just like any other mechanical system, the equipment will need to be replaced eventually. The manufacturer suggests a life-span of approximately 25 years.
Does my system come with warranty?
Yes, all of our heat pumps come with a direct-from-manufacture warranty. The warranty is a five-year labour and electrical with a 10-year on all major refrigeration components.
Maximize your savings; supplement with solar