(WESTERVILLE, OH — February 13, 2013) Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) that provide heating and cooling for buildings are critical to meeting President Obama’s goal of cutting energy waste by U.S. homes and businesses in half over the next 20 years, the National Ground Water Association said today.
“Geothermal heat pumps are one of the most efficient ways to provide heating and cooling to homes, schools, and hospitals, as well as commercial and government buildings. We are talking about building energy savings from about 45 percent to more than 70 percent,” said NGWA Chief Executive Officer Kevin McCray, CAE, reacting to President Obama’s comments on energy efficiency during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
“Government should take into account the enormous potential energy efficiency that can be achieved by geothermal heat pumps,” McCray said.
In addition to heating and cooling the air within a building, GHPs may also supply some or all of a building’s hot water. GHP systems move heat (thermal energy) stored in the earth or groundwater to the building during winter and remove heat from the building to the earth or groundwater during summer months.
Benefits of GHPs included the following.
GHPs reduce energy use. Buildings dominate our nation’s energy use, with space heating and cooling accounting for close to half of all building energy usage. GHPs can reduce energy consumption up to 44 percent compared to air-source heat pumps and up to 72 percent compared with electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
GHPs reduce the need for new power plants. GHPs use 1 kWh (kilowatt hour) of energy from the grid to operate the system and 3 kWh to 5 kWh of renewable thermal energy absorbed from the earth to yield 4 kWh to 6 kWh of total energy for the building. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that 48 percent of new electric generation capacity could be avoided nationwide by 2030 by aggressive deployment of GHPs.
GHPs can effectively be used almost anywhere. Shallow ground or water temperatures are relatively constant throughout the United States allowing GHPs to be used effectively almost anywhere.
The nation would benefit from greater GHP use. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study concluded that increasing residential GHP use to a 20 percent market penetration rate results in substantial energy savings, reduced peak electric demand, and lower carbon emissions. See chart below.
GHPs put Americans to work. Approximately, 99 percent of the GHP units installed in the United States are made here. The use of GHPs also provides jobs in the engineering; architectural; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning; groundwater; supplier; and contracting sectors.
NGWA, a nonprofit organization composed of U.S. and international groundwater professionals — contractors, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, scientists, and engineers — is dedicated to advancing groundwater knowledge. NGWA’s vision is to be the leading groundwater association that advocates the responsible development, management, and use of water.
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