Going Geothermal

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 , Posted by HB at 4:08 AM

Consumers often find them­ selves torn between the push to green along with other social and economical factors, such as convenience, appeal, cost and com­fort, but what if one solution marries them all?


An ancient concept, now a modern revolution in sustainable energy seems to be achieving just that.


Next Energy, a Canadian manufac­turer of geothermal heating systems  recently partnered with Yanch Heat­ing & Air Conditioning, to complete an installation on the northern shores of picturesque lake Joseph in Ontario's beautiful Muskoka region. The project aimed to achieve the basic demands of what most new home owners and those looking to green retrofit are oth­erwise finding challenging; a balance between savings, convenience, com­fort and class.


This Port Caning home built by Tamarack North Ltd. first prescribed an energy source that was both cost effective and accessible in an area where natural gas is unavailable and fuel transport posed a significant chal­lenge. With rising energy costs and a looming oil crisis, stable resources also weighed heavily. In addition, the home's stature also called for an aes­thetically pleasing design and sensible levels of inside comfort. The clear solution was geothermal.


The different units provide indi­vidual heating zones, which allow oc­cupants to control temperatures inde­pendently in different areas; an advantage not offered by most alternative heating methods. The process also eliminates the use of combustion, making for a safer, cleaner living environ­ment, with no danger of carbon monoxide and no fossil fuel emissions.


Requiring just one-third of the space of traditional systems, geo­thermal is typically designed to fit with the provisions of varied projects and can accommodate any combination of radiant in­ floor heating, forced-air heating,  domestic hot water and air conditioning all from the same unit. It can function well in many situations, even as a practi­cal solution for large commercial build­ings or swimming pools.


Geothermal integration produces many additional benefits as it has with the Lake Joseph project; it is quiet, discreet and more aesthetically pleas­ing. The equipment is compact and self-contained, with no noisy outdoor units or exterior wall venting, which also improves building envelope weather tightness.


President of Tamarack North Ltd., Chris Madden says although geother­mal installation is initially an expen­sive investment, it is a growing con­sideration.


"In our market... we are finding that the customers are quite willing to con­sider geothermal heating. It is the most expensive type of heating to install, but at the level of construction we are doing it's becoming quite accessible".


“Though seemingly costly at face val­ue, geothermal configuration can mean significant savings over time, protec­tion front volatile commodity prices and a decrease in the drain on resourc­es for the future. Canadian consumers who retrofit currently receive up to ten thousand dollars in rebates through both federal and provincial programs, and though projects vary, they will typ­ically see a turnaround on their invest­ment in just four to seven years.


"Compared to propane and oil, geo­thermal is about one-quarter the op­ crating cost, so economically it makes sense and is also extremely green with no emissions," said Regional Sales Man­ager with Next Energy, 'Jim Weber.




Going Geothermal


Weber says homes converted to a Next Energy system from oil or electric Will cut about 75 percent off their year­ly heating and cooling costs, or up to 80 percent in the case of propane. A typi­cal retrofit only takes about two to three days for installation and is designed to last beyond the life of the home.


The impact on the environment is clear. Geothermal has immense po­tential to reduce carbon emissions and considerably reduce global warming. Data from Natural Resources Canada and tile Environmental Protection Agency show that geothermal systems have the least environmental imprint in comparison to any space conditioning technology available; something to consider and part of a bulk of knowl­edge Next Energy is working to com­municate to the general population.


"Next Energy goes to market trying to educate consumers ...we aren't just selling a box or a furnace, we're selling a concept," explained Weber.


"Through our partnerships with companies like Yanch 1-Heating our goal is to achieve guaranteed success for the homeowner, where they aren't just purchasing from a contractor, but in­stead a network of support systems."


One of the few companies that spe­cialize only in geothermal Weber says, Next Energy- has no distractions and are 100 percent focused with ten years of hands-on experience, bringing more than just an exceptional product to market. In a grow­ing Canadian trade the company is poised to become an industry leader and despite the recession is holding strong.


Worldwide, geothermal energy is also emerging as a marked renewable force. Ac­cording to the Geothermal Energy Association, geother­mal sources currently supply energy to meet the needs of 60 million people worldwide and are a growing commodity in 24 countries. Developing countries are the top benefactors, as these sourc­es preserve the natural environment, provide energy and economic inde­pendence and can meet the need for electricity in remote regions.


With its adaptable and efficient structure, geothermal could revolu­tionize energy consumption in Can­ada and combat the coming energy crisis, but Without any solid plans for mass production Canadians must sup­port their own sustainability for now -one home at time.



Going Geothermal

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