Water, water, everywhere…

28 Sep


Look who’s back! I’ve been sitting here, waiting patiently for you to show up. You know how I hate to lecture… with empty seats.

Don’t bother looking around… Yep, that’s right… You’re the only one here!

But, this is a pretty good “shipping container sermon”, if I do say so myself, so you’re just gonna have to suffer thru it all by your “onesies”!!

Sorry about the $25 soda’s and the $32 popcorn being sold in the lobby… diapers are expensive! ๐Ÿ™‚

And don’t try no sneakin out… You’re the only one here. I’ll notice. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, we’re off to today’s topic…


We’ve been talking about Geothermal Energy, and how you slap a harness on it.

Now, I ain’t taking about any of that “freaky bondage” stuff, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re on the wrong blog. No, I don’t have a link! Man… what a perv! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m talking about getting the temperature out from under your feet, and into your house, where it belongs. After all, what’s the sense in owning land, if you can’t take full advantage of it? Hmmm?

I know it’s hard to think of heating and cooling and then throw a swimming pool sized blast of water into the conversation, but that’s exactly what we’re gonna do.


Man, my mother asked me that for years! I’d just roll my eyes, and then utter those magic words…

“I Duh Know…”

And then, I’d run like the devil himself was chasing me… ๐Ÿ™‚

And SHE was…

And no! I’m not talking about water because I’ve been overdosing on “Dangerous Crabbing” or “Deadliest Catch” or whatever it’s called… on Cable TV, either!

Anyone stupid enough to head out into the Bering Sea to catch anything but a severe case of pneumonia, is a complete nutjob! ‘Sides that, crab ain’t even Kosher! ๐Ÿ™‚

Crab aint kosherSee? Told Ya!

I’m talking about water, because water is the ideal thermal transport media. That’s WHY!

“WAIT! You were talking about Geothermal HVAC, you Bald-headed Bastard! Stick to the subject!”

I know… I know… Okay, let’s talk about heating and cooling.

Since winter is coming (unless you’re reading this in Australia…) we’ll talk about heating, first.

Everybody and their brother has an opinion about how you heat and cool a house.

Me? Likeย  I said… You already know that I use Mother Nature… and a lot of chili. I can heat up a room, clear it out, and then… have it all to myself, with just one bowl. And, I get to watch whatever I want on TV… at least until the room airs out…

Were you not paying attention? HELLO? Am I talking to the thin air? Huh? ๐Ÿ™‚

Wait… that’s not it… ๐Ÿ™‚

Seriously, we all know that there are many ways to heat a house.ย  In fact, if you’ve been paying attention (you have, right?) I’ve talked until I’m blue in the face (I look like “Papa Damned Smurf” sometimes!) about solar energy and passive solar, so for now, this is what you get (like it or lump it, bucko!)… ๐Ÿ™‚

OK, let’s make a list… because I’m really anal that way (according to my wife):

  • You can make heat by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, or gas, etc.
  • You can make heat by burning renewable fuels like wood, methane, chili… etc.

(But never roast your marshmallows over a methane flame… Blaaahhh! They’ll taste like poop…) ๐Ÿ™‚

  • You can even make heat from electric elements.

(Of course, you realize that the heat you generate will be generated in a variety of not-so-greenish ways unless you have a garage fulla bio-fuel powered generator, or a photovoltaic panel array… right?)

  • Or, you can just pay attention to what I’m telling you… and use a $%&$#@!! Heat Pump!

You don’t need to be a nuclear physicist, a rocket scientist, or even possess the alleged brains of your “Know-it-all” Mother-In-Law to see that all of these except the last one seem pretty crude.

And the last one… is extremely crude.ย  Hey, put the rocks down… I have it on good authority (and a semi-secret poll) that most of you have one of these, too… ๐Ÿ˜‰

The first three are all less than 100% efficient.

In fact, my Mother-In-Law is (gasp!) less than 100% efficient (unless it’s about sucking up all the food on the dinner table), but that’s another post… that could go on for days… weeks maybe! ๐Ÿ™‚

No matter how you cut it, energy costs money, so the less efficient your heating system is, the more it will cost you.

Heat pumps can be more than 100% efficient.

“Whaaaa? No way! Impossible! You can’t get more than 100%! It’s a trick!”

You can too! And, it’s really simple.ย  Heat Pumps don’t generate heat, they pump it. When a heat pump operates in a suitable environment, it can be up to 400% efficient.


So how come heat pumps get such a bad rap, especially in cold winters?ย  That’s easy too.

When it’s 70 Degrees inside the house, and 25 Degrees outside the house, heat pumps have a really hard time pushing heat from the outside to the inside (kinda like a sump pump trying to pump water up a steep incline).ย  It’s all a matter of differential.

And I’m not talking about the one on the back of your pick-up, so don’t rush out into the yard thinking you got a one-up on the deal, huh? ๐Ÿ™‚

Did you know that when the difference between the outside temperate and the inside temperature is only about 20 Degrees, heat pumps are extremely efficient?

Well, you do NOW!

And that’s exactly what Geo-Thermal Exchange systems are all about. Underneath your yard is an unlimited supply of stable, constant, “love to let me love you…”ย  temperature, perfect for a heat pump.ย  Hammered by the desert sun, or buried under the snow… it’s stable, constant temperature. Wait, I already said that…

Well, it bears repeating! And, I just did! See? I’m efficient, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

FYI: Told ya I’d get around to Geothermal… You just have to live through all the mindless meandering! ๐Ÿ™‚

So… you have a “hunka hunka” slab of stable temperature right under your feet. Big deal. How do you get it out? Easy.

Pay attention, cuz’ I’m gonna learn ya somethin…

All you need to do is sink a long length of tubing beneath the ground, and circulate water through it. For those of you who keep track of facts, it’s called a “ground loop“.ย  Then, instead of trying to pull heat from the sub-zero air outside your house, you now pull heat from the earth beneath your yard.


The newfangled machinery that does this for you is called “Ground Source Heat Pumps” (or GSHP for short).

There are many different tubing configurations, and the best one to use depends on your personal situation.ย  If you behave, we’ll talk about those, too!

But for now… let’s talk about Cooling;

Ask anybody and they’ll tell you that the most popular way to actively cool a home in the USA is with a heat pump.ย  Some desert locations may use evaporative cooling, or even ICE, but these don’t really work in humid climates.

I know that you saw that library on the Science channel that uses Ice to cool the whole building, but that only works in places with “dry heat.” Anywhere else, and it isn’t so effective.


Instead of using peak daytime (and often more expensive) electricity to cool your home or office during the day, in some places you can use your air conditioner to make ice at night (it is cheaper and cooler) and use the ice during the day to stay cool.

But, not around here! “Momma Humidity” will kick your …um… er… butt.

So, it’s back to heat pumps. The high efficiency of a heat pump is a direct result of the temperature differential that the pump must overcome.ย  In raging summers, this difference may be as high as 30 Degrees, which is luckily still within the operational range of a modern heat pump. Simply put, it pulls air from outside, processes it, and then it pumps it inside…

If it’s over a hundred degrees outside, you have a fight on your hands, and one tired Geothermal Heat Pump. Say it with me…


But what if you use the earth as a constant temperate source.ย  Now the heat pump is pushing heat from an inside temp of 75 Degrees, down to a nominal 55 Deg Earth temperature through those same in-ground coils.ย  Since the heat already wants to go from hotter to colder, the heat pump is operating in an ideal environment.ย  The highest possible efficiency is absolutely “guaran-damned-teed” here. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are some other benefits of the “mysterious Geo-Thermal” exchange.

Geothermal systems rely on loops of pipe placed in the ground. And… burying the earth loop is a hassle, but so is burying power lines, but we do that!ย  Why? Well, from then onwards, the system is invisible, silent and low maintenance (no noisy fans outside, and no motors exposed to the elements etc.).


Wait! There’s more! I’m a big fan of “multi-tasking.” Since the Geo-Thermal heat pump is already dealing with one water loop, why not go all the way and replace the interior forced air system with an in-floor radiant heat system fed directly from the heat pump.

Radiant In-Floor Heat and cooling is the way, man!

If you do this, the interior noise of your house will also be reduced, and space isn’t taken up with heating ducts. (Great for locations that don’t have a cooling requirement).

Unless, of course, your Mother-In-Law is in town… that insures a “loud house with less space…” argh!

Geo-Thermal heat pumps are also capable of supplying your household hot water service with heat.

So, you won’t get home from work, to find out that dear old “Mom and a half” has used up all your hot water!

Since the cost of heating water for cleaning and bathing is a significant component of any home’s heating bill, the efficiencies of the Geo-Thermal heat pump can have a considerable cost saving.

In fact, Geothermal HVAC systems can pay for themselves.

Next time, we’re gonna talk about houses, Geothermal Heat Pumps, and how the different types of “loop scenario’s” work…

Stay tuned…

The Renaissance RoninAnd for the last time… I don’t “hate” my Mother-In-Law…
We just have “issues.” My therapist says “it’s good to talk about your feelings…”
So stop sending me “hatemail”, huh? ๐Ÿ™‚

5 Responses to “Water, water, everywhere…”

  1. Madrigorne September 28, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    Such marvelous work is great for initial construction, but kind of a bear to retrofit.

    • renaissanceronin September 28, 2009 at 10:51 am #

      Hi “M”,

      If I’m understanding your comment…

      It is far easier to implement Geothermal Heating and cooling in a “new construction” environment.

      However, I have seen retrofits to existing structures.

      If nothing else, it does give us something else to think about, if we’re seeking a more efficient home to live in.

      In my case, building “new” homes out of shipping containers, it works pretty well. I’ll get into the different loop scenarios further along in the series, and you’ll see that you can do this without drilling a 200 foot deep hole.

      I just hope it gives us all something to think about…

      Like everything else, your mileage may vary.

      Thanks for the comment!


  2. DennisVega September 30, 2009 at 11:46 am #


    Very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan!

    I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular basis…

    See ya

  3. RobD October 6, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • renaissanceronin October 7, 2009 at 11:30 am #

      But today is Wednesday!

      Man, you’ve gotta get a faster Search Engine! Might I suggest “Google”? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Glad you’re here.

      Now sit down, shut up, hang on and enjoy the ride… ๐Ÿ™‚


Comments are closed.