Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Finding Comfort by Shawn Kratochvil

Geothermal Energy

Warner Pacific College
August 10, 2009
Finding Comfort
Technology is growing every day. With that new technology there at times things that use to take time have become less time consuming with the different options available for us today, money savings is possible, and there is more comfort for people. The automotive industry has created automobiles that will tell a mechanic exactly what is wrong with a vehicle making the diagnosis less time consuming and the customer can get a accurate repair to their vehicle with as little as one visit to the repair shop. Energy efficency allows buildings to be maintained to a comfort level for individuals inside when the outside temperatures raise or lower. One option for a renewable source of energy is geothermal energy.
To understand how geothermal it first must be defined. “Heat from the Earth, or geothermal — Geo (Earth) + thermal (heat) — energy can be and already is accessed by drilling water or steam wells in a process similar to drilling for oil” (Geothermal basics, 2008). In the upper ten feet of the earths surface the teamperature is typically between 50 and 60 degrees farenheight. This is using the constant temperature below the earth’s surface to heat the building in the colder seasons while at the same time cool the same building in the summer. The geothermal system is very efficient in maintaining a constant temperature throughout the year. In locations that have extreme seasons like the mid west region of the United States, some individuals are taking advantage of this renewable source of energy to make their homes more comfortable all year long.
One family that purchased a home in South Dakota buildt in 1918 made the decission to research renewable energy for heating and cooling after living in the home for almost 30 years. This home originally had a coal furnace heating water that ran through a hot water radiator system throughout the house. This system was upgraded in the 1950’s to a natural gas heater that would heat water in the same radiators. Winter months caused the natural gas bill costs over $500 for this single family home of 3300 square feet (approximately three square feet of every room held a radiator) in addition to the wood burning stove. The radiators would give no releif in the hot humid months of the summer. When looking into replacing their system with a central air system they were informed that the cost was estimated to be near $9000 since there was no duct work thought the house to circulate the air. At this time they looked into other systems for their home.
After doing deep research on what would maintain the historical value of their home while adding the comfort of airconditioning for the summer months, they decided to install a geothermal heat pump. In order to do this six barrells were burried 30 feet below the earths surface with pumps installed to circulate the air through new air ducts throughout the house. While this system still uses electricity to run the pumps their house is maintained at a constant temperature all year long now. Now they are able to consider the basement as a third level adding an average of 1500 square feet to their home. Even though their yearly costs for energy did not drop significantly (an average of $35 per month), they now can enjoy the airconditioning in the midwestern summers and constant warmth in the bitter winters.
In the California there is a region known as the “Ring of Fire” that contains numerous geothermal energy sources with fourteen of them reaching 300 degrees Fahrenheit or greater. Many of the counties have begun taping into this renewable source of energy, “when added together, California's geothermal power plants produce about 4.5 percent of the California's total electricity” (California Energy Commission, 2008). With more effort in renewable energy sources our society can become less dependant on the precious natural resourses.


California Energy Commission. (2008, June 16). Background about geothermal energy in
California. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from The California Energy Commission:
Geothermal basics. (2008, October 3). Retrieved August 10, 2009, from U.S. Department of
Energy - energy efficiency and drenewable energy:

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