Does Geothermal Have a Place on the Prairies?

Wind and solar usually take the spotlight when it comes to renewable energy in Canada, but there is a lesser known energy source right beneath our feet: geothermal energy, heat energy stored within the Earth’s crust.

Canada has been criticized for being frustratingly slow to develop our geothermal energy potential. You might have heard that Saskatchewan is paving the way for geothermal energy investment with the country’s first geothermal plant in Estevan, SK, which hopes to prove the viability of generating geothermal electricity in Canada.

But, geothermal is nothing new in Canada and we’re not talking about geothermal electricity plants. We’re talking about building-scale geothermal systems which utilize the earth’s thermal mass to remove heat from buildings during the summer months and supply heat in the winter months.

With more than 60 years of use throughout Europe and North America, home-scale geothermal systems for heating and cooling have a proven track record.

How does geothermal work?

Geothermal systems transfer heat to and from the earth using a buried piping system called an ground loop. Even with a blanket of snow on the ground, the earth’s temperatures remain constant at approximately 10 degrees Celsius, which means 4 to 6 feet below ground, you have a steady supply of heat to keep you in comfort. A geothermal system capitalizes on these constant temperatures to provide heating and cooling for your home. 

Horizontal Loop
Vertical Loop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even with a rich history of use in Canada, there are many misconceptions about geothermal energy. So, we’re going to bust the top 6 myths about geothermal systems.

6 Myths about Geothermal systems

1. Geothermal is too expensive

A geothermal system allows you to immediately start saving from the day it is installed.

The premium paid for a geothermal system is recouped in the monthly operational savings. In as little as a few years, you will be able to recoup the costs you incurred for the installation of your geothermal system, and still be saving on your energy bill. Not only that, you’ll be protected from rising energy costs and adding value to your home, should you decide to sell.

2. It’s too cold for geothermal energy

We’re not denying that it gets cold around here, but geothermal systems don’t rely on air temperature, they rely on the thermal mass beneath our feet. We drill 100 foot holes to install the system, circulating fluid to capture energy from the ground below the frostline, which stays a constant temperature 365 days a year!

3. Geothermal is difficult to maintain

With a properly installed geothermal heating system, the loops buried in the ground will last for decades. The rest of the geothermal system is located indoors, so it is not exposed to the elements that might cause wear and tear. With no combustion, a geothermal heat pump requires much less preventative maintenance than traditional heating sources. Yes, with everything mechanical things can and do go wrong. When they do, we are able to provide industry leading service to our customers. This service has further improved recently with the  acquisition of Polar Refrigeration Services.

4. Geothermal pumps are noisy

The systems run very quiet and there are no components outdoors to bother neighbours!

5. Geothermal can’t cover all of my heating and cooling needs

Designed and installed correctly, our geothermal systems can take care of 100% of your heating, cooling and domestic hot water needs. Each system comes with an electric backup – but this is only there in case of failure, and not needed to supplement.

6. You need a lot of space to install geothermal

Most components of geothermal heating systems are buried underground, and loops can be buried vertical to save even more space. The rest of the system can be easily installed in your basement or garage, so the entire system doesn’t take up much space.

Still have questions or wondering if a geothermal system is the right solution for your home? Our miEnergy team is here to answer your concerns and we will walk you through the entire process to find out how much you stand to save from  a geothermal system installation. Find out more about geothermal systems and call us today.