Ground source heat pumps, or GHPs, harness the constant temperature beneath the earth’s crust (about 50-60° F) to sustainably heat and cool homes and buildings. Depending on the season, heat is transferred into or out of the ground via underground piping that carries refrigerant. Heat is absorbed from the ground and then circulated and expelled into a home in the winter with the help of a heat exchanger, or vice versa in the summer.
The world has been harnessing geothermal energy for thousands of years. Today, France, Turkey, New Zealand, the U.S., Japan, Italy and, especially, Iceland put these hot water pumps to various uses. The most common type of geothermal heating is called direct geothermal, and uses the system described above. Geothermal heating burns no fossil fuels, and creates little nitrous oxide and few sulfur gases. When installed in New England buildings that would otherwise use oil or propane fuels for heating, these systems can deliver tremendous energy cost savings. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is encouraging the use of these pumps to heat schools, low-income housing developments, and even homes.
DOER’s new collaborative program, SAPHIRE (“Schools and Public Housing Integrating Renewables and Efficiency”), combines energy efficiency improvements with innovative renewable thermal heating technologies such as geothermal, air source heat pumps, solar thermal, and woody biomass to promote more sustainable energy sources. At the same time, the program demonstrates how these technologies can deliver significant energy cost savings and provide comfortable living in state public housing and learning environments in schools.
The SAPHIRE program works with the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to help identify possible utility rebates, grants and low-interest financing to encourage more renewable thermal projects in Massachusetts communities.
For more information on how your school or state public housing can participate in SAPHIRE:
SAPHIRE Program – Renewable Heating and Energy Efficiency
For more info on ground source heat pump technologies:
Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ article on Geothermal Integration
U.S. Department of Energy’s page on Geothermal Heat Pumps
Advancing Zero Net Energy Buildings posted on Aug 13
When I started an internship this summer with the Leading by Example program at the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), I knew that I would be working on projects related to energy efficient and sustainable buildings. While I was familiar with LEED certification, I didn’t …Continue Reading Advancing Zero Net Energy Buildings
Women Shaping the Agenda in Energy and the Environment posted on Jul 28
I joined the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as an intern in the Renewable Energy Division at the start of the summer. As a recent graduate, one of my main internship goals has been not only to learn about the energy industry and policy, but …Continue Reading Women Shaping the Agenda in Energy and the Environment
Getting Started and Gaining Insight into Energy Storage posted on Jul 14
I joined the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) team a few months ago and, as you might imagine, have been introduced to a mountain of new information. Before I joined DOER, I had a very general understanding of what the department actually did for the …Continue Reading Getting Started and Gaining Insight into Energy Storage