Home Heating Options

By Elle O’Casey

There are a number of options available when it comes to renewable residential heating. Yet narrowing these options and finding one that works for you can be time-consuming process. Over the next few weeks, a series of articles will offer more information on heating in Vermont. This week, we’ll take a closer look at one option: ground source heat pumps.

Heat pumps are one of the more popular, well-known options available. This column has featured different writers and topics devoted to exploring heat pump technology during the last year, including a piece looking at the new geothermal heat pump installed at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Heat pumps can be used for heating and cooling homes. They are highly efficient and are considered a renewable source of energy. There are two main categories of heat pumps. The first is an air-source heat pump. With the cold Vermont winters, this type of pump is not as popular here because it becomes much less effective when temperatures dip below five-degrees fahrenheit. Many Vermonters interested in heat pumps instead opt for ground-source heat pumps because they’re not affected by outside temperatures. Another term used for ground-source heat pumps is geothermal heat pump.

Ground source heat pumps utilize natural, low temperature thermal energy from the ground during the winter to heat homes. Even in Vermont, where winter temperatures often dip into the negatives, just a few feet below the surface, the ground temperature maintains a constant 45-55°F. This constant temperature allows the ground to serve as a type of storage battery. In winter, the pumps draw on this renewable thermal energy from the ground to heat homes and buildings and in the summer the pump draws on cooler ground temperature to provide air conditioning.

Closed loop ground-source heat pump courtesy http://www.energy.gov.

Closed loop ground-source heat pump courtesy http://www.energy.gov.

Installation costs for these systems are initially higher than conventional methods of heating yet they can last for 50 years or more, meaning energy savings kick in about five to ten years after installation.

For more information:

Sustainable Woodstock can help connect you to more resources. Get in touch with us by emailing info@sustainablewoodstock.org and consider joining our Energy Group. In 2017 the Energy Group will focus on creating more energy efficient housing for low income families in our area. We will be doing this by connecting trained volunteers with our community members that are most in need in order to engage them with programs across the state that will help them save money on their energy bills. The Energy Group will also be working with the Vermont Energy Action Network to track our community’s progress on the Community Energy Dashboard which shows how we are achieving 90% of local energy needs through efficiency and renewables by 2050. The Energy Group meets on the second Monday of the month at the Town Hall.

Do Just One Thing: Attend an Energy Group meeting to learn more about renewable energy resources and help provide more energy efficient housing for low income families in our community.

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