While geothermal heat has the reputation for costing nothing, the initial installation of the system is an investment of time and money.
Three 200-foot deep holes were dug into the ground next to the house that Marion High School construction class, taught by Lucas King, has rapidly been building. The 40-foot tall drill, owned and operated by Associated Drilling, that burrowed into the earth drained 20 gallons of diesel fuel an hour, drilling in 10, 20-foot segments.
The drill spewed blond, chalky dirt up from the ground that gathered in mounds near the drill’s base. Soon, the drill was deep enough to draw water and gray sludge that looked like wet concrete emitted from the drill.
After each hole was at the desired depth, three-quarter-inch loop was placed at the bottom, bentonite was poured into the hole, and a pipe is placed in the bentonite.
Antifreeze was blown through the hole to cause the heat exchange that fuels the system. The three holes were then integrated together and connected to the house. A heat pump, which uses a small amount of electricity, brings the heat up from the ground to warm the house.
Joel Thomas of Flaming’s Heating and Air Conditioning Incorporated in Marion said that geothermal heat can be used anywhere.
The Earth acts as a sponge for solar energy and therefore the ground several feet beneath the earth’s surface always stays at a constant, desirable temperature. Because of this, the geothermal pump also works to cool the house during the summer.
King said that he has tried to be as environmentally responsible as possible while building this house, citing geothermal heat as one of the key eco-friendly options the house will posses. The system will also start to pay for itself in five to 10 years because less electricity is needed to run it.