In recent years, more consumers have taken an active interest in exploring alternative heating solutions for their private homes and office buildings. Whether it stems from the growing conversation around individual impact on global warming, or simply the rising costs of heating and utility bills, people have come to realize that sticking to the status quo is not only not the best option for the environment, but it is also not helping their budgets. Luckily, there are more resources available for people to explore the benefits and challenges of adopting alternative heating solutions.
Many corporations are beginning to realize the potential for geothermal energy to revitalize their operations and decrease their footprints. Implementing geothermal heating and cooling systems in corporate environments is not as widespread. But it’s time for corporate contractors and business leaders, alike, to rethink the impact of traditional heating and cooling structures.
What is Geothermal Heating?
Before making any investments, it’s important to first understand what geothermal energy is. Geothermal can be a great option for some corporations and a weaker one for others, so gathering relevant facts is essential.
Basically, geothermal heating involves bringing heat from below the earth’s surface as an energy source. It taps into areas where desired temperatures exist using a ground-source heat pump, and uses a liquid similar to antifreeze in a system of tubes in the ground to carry heat to or from a building.
Some benefits of using geothermal heating include being environmentally-friendly and renewable, providing steady baseload power (which avoids energy blackouts and fluctuations), high efficiency, and lower operating costs. On the other hand, geothermal energy is only available in certain regions due to its reliance on Earth’s tectonic plates, and startup costs can be high.
Only by weighing these pros and cons can you decide if geothermal is right for your business. If it is, then there are several ways that geothermal heating can greatly improve your energy usage.
The most common use of geothermal energy is for heating homes and businesses. Given the benefits of using geothermal as a heat source, this comes as little surprise.
For instance, compared to more typical heat sources, geothermal heating systems provide more even heating and cooling — mitigating temperature extremes in buildings and improving general comfort.
Further, geothermal heating systems are about 500 percent efficient, reducing operational costs for businesses. Companies can see a 30 to 50 percent reduction in heating and cooling costs after setting up a geothermal system, and these systems have the lowest life cycle costs of any heating and cooling system available today.
Using a geothermal system to heat your office will do wonders for your carbon footprint, as well. Geothermal heating produces one less pound of carbon dioxide (a contributor to human-created climate change) per hour than a conventional fossil fuel heating system, which is equivalent to planting 120,000 acres of trees over 20 years of use.
Not only can geothermal heating keep operational costs down and your employees comfortable, it can help ensure your workers’ safety, as well.
For businesses with offices in colder climates, icy sidewalks and roads are real dangers to employees. From slipping and falling trying to get into the office door to car accidents occurring on icy highways, dangers related to the cold are relevant to any business owner interested in preventing worker’s compensation situations and just taking care of employees in general.
Geothermal heating provides a solution to this danger. Due to its high efficiency, businesses can use a geothermal system to heat private sidewalks, and contribute to public funds to provide geothermal heating for particularly dangerous icy roads. In fact, the Netherlands has begun using geothermal heating to prevent bike lanes from freezing, funded largely by corporate interests in the country.
Agriculture and Manufacturing
Geothermal energy has less conventional uses for the more inventive business leaders, as well — especially in the realms of agriculture and manufacturing.
Farming corporations, for instance, use geothermal heating systems to heat their greenhouses to provide crops during all seasons at lower cost than more conventional methods. This isn’t a new development, either: farmers in Italy have used water heated by geothermal energy for hundreds of years to grow crops during the winter, fish farmers from around the world use geothermal energy to keep the water warm, and 80 perent of Hungarian vegetable growers’ energy demand is met through geothermal means.
Manufacturers can benefit from geothermal energy sources, as well — especially ones that require drying processes. Geothermal heating is a great way to dry produce, wood, and textiles. This energy source can even be used to extract gold and silver from ore.
From the reduction in energy costs to ensuring workplace safety, geothermal heating provides a wealth of potential uses to many forward-thinking corporate leaders. As the technology improves and geothermal systems become more widely available, there’s little doubt that the heat from under our feet will be used more and more to power our daily lives and businesses.