Many of us don't realize this, but the earth is full of energy -- literally. One form of energy from the earth is the heat trapped beneath its surface, which can be harnessed and used as geothermal heat energy. It has been around for centuries, but we've started using the earth's heat only in the early 1900's. Since then, many research and developments have led to other applications of geothermal heat energy.
Geothermal energy is one of the most promising energy resources available to man.
It is a form of clean and renewable energy: clean because using it doesn't emit harmful pollutants, and renewable because the heat within the earth simply goes around in a cycle so we are assured that there will always be heat available to us.
Geothermal heat energy is mainly used in electricity production in several countries.
Since it is clean and renewable, geothermal power plants are becoming a popular alternative to plants that run on fossil fuel. It is also used for district heating, especially in many localities in Iceland, Turkey, and the United States.
On a smaller scale, geothermal energy is used in homes and buildings using heat pumps for heating and cooling purposes. Besides geothermal energy for small communities for heat and power supply recently geothermal powered residential homes have become a more and more considered alternative, too.
The system is very simple: a geothermal heat pump works by moving the heat from the earth into the house or building during cold weather. During summer, excess heat from the building can be exhausted to the underground water, which is connected to the house or building through pipes. These processes can easily be adjusted through a thermostat.
Due to rising prices of electricity, many households are opting to use geothermal energy for heating purposes. They do this using heat pumps that use geothermal energy instead of electricity. The heating system is installed and the heat pump usually lasts for about 20 years. The main advantage of doing this is that geothermal heat pumps use about 25% to 50% less electricity.
Another great thing about using geothermal heating energy is that the system is very simple to use and easy to maintain. The piping installed in the system lasts for 25 to 50 years. In addition, since the system takes care of both heating and cooling, it eliminates the need for boilers for heaters and condensers for air conditioners. The system is easy to maintain and operates quietly. There are also no harmful chemicals released, which makes this a safe choice for the environment and health. Another advantage of geothermal heating energy is that aside from being used for space heating, it can also be used for water heating.
Although it might be costly to have a geothermal heating system installed in your home or building, this should not be considered a disadvantage. In the long run, the low maintenance costs and high reliability of the system, plus the electricity cost savings should make up for your initial investment in the system.
The only potential disadvantage of a geothermal heating system is that the efficiency of the system will depend on your location. Naturally occurring vents are not widely available, and you might need to have your area surveyed first if having a geothermal heating system is recommended.
Pro & cons: Advantages prevail against disadvantages of geothermal heating energy
Geothermal energy is an excellent and efficient energy source. It should not just be an alternative; since it will always be available, it is best to use it to its full potential, and we can all start doing this in our own homes.