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
“Mass. Military Division” and “Energy Efficiency” Go Together posted on Jul 25
Energy measures implemented at a Mass. Military Divison site include improved lighting, high efficiency motors, HVAC controls and energy management system upgrades. Under the Accelerate Efficiency Plan, the Commonwealth is investing over $12 million at 29 state facilities throughout the Berkshires.
Solar a “No-Go” on Your Roof? Share Through Community Solar posted on Jul 16
Harvard residents who wanted solar on their homes and were unable to get it due to shading, sloping, or structural barriers, found a solution by sharing the Harvard Solar Garden, an approximately 250 kW project, provides 41 residents and six small businesses with sustainable, clean energy. .
Summer’s Here: Shed Layers and Shed Loads posted on Jul 11
Electricity usage throughout New England reaches its peak during summer heat waves, causing our electricity bills to spike. During periods of high demand, electric utilities typically call on more expensive “peaking” plants to provide extra power. These costs are passed onto larger, non-residential consumers through demand charges on their monthly electricity bill. Municipal buildings can save a significant sum of money if they shut off portions of their electricity during these peak periods.