WASHINGTON - Geoexchange heating and cooling technology is a possible solution to meeting California's rising energy demands, according to Wael El-Sharif, executive director of the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium (GHPC).

"We've seen clear indications that electricity demand in California is continuing to rise and while the California Energy Commission has stated that the state's electricity supplies should be sufficient through 2006, some generating companies see the supply waning as early as 2005 - that's just 15 months away."

According to the GHPC, heating and cooling accounts for more than 30 percent of a building's energy costs. For that reason, technologies that reduce HVAC energy consumption can provide a substantial savings. Because a geoexchange system is energy efficient, it helps reduce peak demand. Each ton of standard air conditioning that is replaced by a geoexchange system reduces peak electrical demand by nearly 1 kW, says the GHPC. An average home uses about 2.5 to 5 tons of air conditioning, 2 to 6 kW per house.

If just one in 12 California homes installed a geoexchange system, the energy savings would be the equivalent of nine new power plants, proclaims the GHPC.

Because they tap into the earth's renewable energy, geoexchange systems are more efficient than oil- or gas-fired boiler/chiller systems, furnaces, or conventional heat pumps, the GHPC says. Geoexchange units don't burn fossil fuels, nor do they try to extract heat from cold winter air or reject heat to hot summer air. In the winter, they move heat from the earth to a building's interior. In the summer, they pump heat from the interior to the earth. Thus, they cost less to operate; building owners with geoexchange units can realize energy savings of 25 to 50 percent over conventional systems, says the association.

"As Governor-elect Schwarzenegger continues to unveil his energy proposals for the state of California, he should take a good look at geoexchange and the incredible energy savings that it offers Californians," stated El-Sharif. "Combine that with the technology's ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially and you get a win-win-win for California."

For more information, visit www.geoexchange.org.

Publication date: 10/20/2003