What is geothermal power?
Geothermal energy comes from two words, geo meaning earth, and therme meaning heat. This is the heat and energy found in the earth itself. This steam and hot water found within the earth is tapped to provide heat to buildings or to generate electric current. Geothermal energy is form of renewable energy source since the water that produces the steam is replenished through the water cycle and heat within the earth is continuously produces.
Uses of Geothermal Power
Geothermal power can be used in two ways. There is the direct way and there is electricity generation.
The most direct ways of using geothermal energy is through the use of hot springs and reservoirs near the earth’s surface. Since ancient times, people have been using hot mineral springs for a number of reasons such as the therapeutic properties that it provides. They have also used these hot springs for bathing, cooking and even heating.
Until now, these things are still done by a lot of people who have access to these hot springs. Some people would build their houses near these springs to be able to tap directly to this hot water source for their daily use. They use the hot water for home consumption or they pipe it through their homes for heating purposes.
Another use of geothermal power as mentioned is in the generation of electricity. Now, this is not usually done by households or residential places. Geothermal plants use hydrothermal energy to produce electricity. Deeps wells are made into the earth since these hydrothermal reservoirs are located mostly about one to two miles below the earth's crust. It would be too costly for a household to dig that deep and maintain the facility to produce electricity.
Geothermal Power for Homes
Geothermal energy was primarily used to generate electricity for cities and towns. These days it is also used to help generate heat and cooling systems for the home. Some homeowners have opted to use geothermal systems to save some money on heating expenses. Initially the cost may be a bit high - the initial investment can eat up as much as $15,000 to $20,000 - but the long-term benefits of geothermal heating outweigh the initial cost.
Geothermal heat pumps used in homes can conserve a lot of energy, which contributes to a 30 to 50 percent reduction in your monthly heating and cooling bills. That's huge savings for households spending $300 to $500 a month on energy bills!
Aside from the savings you get, these geothermal heat pumps are 50% to 70% more efficient in heating your homes than other heating systems available in the market. It is also 20% to 40% more effective in cooling than other air conditioners.
Making Geothermal Power Work to Your Advantage
Home geothermal heating systems make use of the same principle as that of the binary geothermal power plants. If you live in a relatively cold place the ground water in your home may be a bit cool, however even though this may be true there is still some heat available in the water that would be enough to heat other substances.
A good example of these substances is a Freon-type liquid where a 50-degree ground water will be enough to heat this substance. For the Freon, that temperature is already hot and immediately boils to become gas, which is similar to steam in water. The Freon can then be compressed by an electric compressor to raise its temperature even more. These then can be pumped to the pipes in your home to provide the heating you require.
If you need to cool your home during the summer, all you have to do is reverse the process. Just pump the Freon into the same tubes you use in heating your homes and let it absorb the heat from your homes.
It is true that it is not free energy since you will still be consuming electricity for the compressor but the cost that you incur for the electricity is about four times the amount you save on heating your home. It still saves you a lot of money.
Promoting Green Living
Geothermal energy is one of the most environmentally safe energy sources. The power plants do not use burning fuel so there are less carbon dioxide emissions. Most of the water and steam taken from the earth are recycled back so there very minimal pollutants that is released to the air.
Direct use of geothermal energy has almost no negative side effects to the environment. This is a renewable source of energy that everyone can enjoy. Geothermal energy is still not used very much in the production of energy but there is still a big potential for its use.
If we would harness the full potential of geothermal energy, it would greatly lessen the demand for a renewable source of energy.