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Ex-Oklahoma College Scientist Suggests Geothermal Heat Pumps Spend Less Electricity and Increase the Quality of Air

Did you know Gerald McClain, after numerous decades working with geothermal energy master James Bose at Oklahoma State College, has designed an innovative home geothermal heating and cooling system?

Heat pumps operate as a refrigerator in reverse, they normally use electrical power to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. As a result, they can be two to three times more power efficient than classic electric heating units.

A geothermal heat pump is a central heating and/or cooling system that pumps heat to/or from the ground. It uses the soil as a heat source (in the winter months) or as a heat sink (in the summer months).
The geothermal pump systems are between the most energy efficient solutions for providing HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) and water heating.

The installation costs are higher than standard systems (about $45,000, but reduced by a 30 percent government tax credit), however the difference can be returned in energy cost savings in 3 to 10 years.

The Gerald McClain’s geothermal system is based on:

- Six one inch diameter pipes sunk 300 feet into the soft red clay below his home

- A water antifreeze mix in the pipes that picks up the ground’s constant sixty two degree F. temperature

- Three heat pumps in the attic that use a small electric powered compressor to heat or cool the home

The electricity for the pumps costs about $100 a month, much less than the usual heating and cooling costs in the area. A well maintained heat pump system not only saves energy, but will also blow outside air into the house, improving indoor air quality. 

Indoor dust can pose health risks, in particular to young children. New facts (as released by the site in Sept 2009) reveals that indoor dust is highly contaminated by persistent and endocrine disrupting chemicals (such as poly-chlorinated biphenyls).

Heat pumps achieve energy effectiveness by transferring heat around as opposed to liberating it. This is not to say there is no air activity with a heat pump, but the heat exchange lowers that process. So does the lack of a cold-cycle as it exists in many conventional furnaces, which also acts to blow dust through the house.

About the author – Lorie Wampler creates articles for the residential heat pumps blog. It’s a nonprofit blog targeted on her personal experience with A/C to decrease energy usage and improve indoor air quality. With this she would like to increase the attention on eco-friendly tips for the home and change the general public conception of energy efficiency.

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