Council OKs new geothermal utility service

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta


Melanie McCoy, general manager of Wyandotte Municipal Services, explains the benefits of geothermal energy and the government incentives available to make it a favorable choice for new homes and those rehabilitated for low-income residents using federal incentives.

System naturally heats, cools

Experts say geothermal energy has been used to heat and cool for decades, but typically has not been offered as a utility service to homeowners.

It has been in use for decades, but users typically must supply their own heat exchange wells, which can be expensive.

Geothermal energy provides heating and cooling by sending water underground in a closed-loop piping system to be heated or cooled by the surrounding ground to 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the ambient temperature of the earth below the frost line. The frost line is them with hot water.

Ambient underground temperature utilized in the geothermal process is maintained by solar energy absorbed from the sun. The ground is too near the surface of the earth to be affected by the molten magma in the earth’s core. It’s the same principle that keeps temperatures inside caves the same at all times.

So in cold weather, a geothermal heat pump moves heat from the earth into a building. In hot weather, it removes heat from a building and discharges it into the ground.

A geothermal heat pump runs on electricity but doesn’t burn fuel like a traditional furnace. The underground pipe loop circulates water underground, where it warms up and carries the heat back to the building.

An electrical compressor and heat exchanger concentrate the energy and release it inside a building at a higher temperature. The heated air travels through the existing ductwork system, warming the interior.

In hot weather, the process is reversed. The closed loop water pipes draw excess heat from the house and cool it underground by letting the ground absorb the heat. The system cools air like a refrigerator does, by drawing heat from the inside, as opposed to blowing in cold air.

A vertical underground closed loop usually is used when yard space is limited and disturbance of existing landscaping must be minimized.generally 3 to 4 feet below the surface.

Water, not steam, flows through the system’s high, rigid density polyethylene pipes, which in Wyandotte will have a center core formed of grout. The pipes are 5 to 6 inches in diameter.

A heat pump moves the heat from one place to another. Geothermal heat pumps use the stable heat of the earth and the pipe system to heat or cool buildings and sometimes provide them with hot water.

Ambient underground temperature utilized in the geothermal process is maintained by solar energy absorbed from the sun. The ground is too near the surface of the earth to be affected by the molten magma in the earth’s core. It’s the same principle that keeps temperatures inside caves the same at
all times.

In cold weather, a geothermal heat pump moves heat from the earth into a building. In hot weather, it removes heat from a building and discharges it into the ground.

A geothermal heat pump runs on electricity but doesn’t burn fuel like a traditional furnace. The underground pipe loop circulates water, where it warms up and carries the heat back to the building.

An electrical compressor and heat exchanger concentrate the energy and release it inside a building at a higher temperature. The heated air travels through the existing ductwork system, warming the interior.

In hot weather, the process is reversed. The closed loop water pipes draw excess heat from the house and cool it underground by letting the ground absorb the heat. The system cools air like a refrigerator does, by drawing heat from the inside, as opposed to blowing in cold air.

A vertical underground closed loop usually is used when yard space is limited and disturbance of existing landscaping must be minimized.

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