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Green is ‘cool’

A geothermal system is becoming a popular “green” way of heating and cooling homes.

Geothermal systems use the constant temperature of the earth to control the temperature of a home.

“It’s actually a groundwater source heat pump,” said Roy Smith of Smith and Associates Geothermal Systems.

“We’re piping underground and circulating water through it. You’re transferring heat from the earth into your house through a refrigeration cycle, or you’re taking heat out of your house and putting it back into the earth,” he added.

“They will save you typically between 50 and 75 percent on your utility bill … it would be the equivalent of planting about 750 trees or removing two cars from the road.

“We have done enough over the years to save the equivalent of 9,000 tons of coal every year, or removing 2,000 vehicles off the road,” Smith said.

Smith and Associates has installed over 500 systems in the Greater Knoxville area, including one in Farragut.

“Now that people are starting to understand that they need to save energy and go to the extremes that need to be taken to make their lives more efficient, it’s made my job more exciting,” Smith said.

A geothermal system is more expensive to install, but pays itself off in little more than five to seven years, he added.

“It’s essentially an investment, is the way we’re looking at these systems. They are more expensive upfront, but there’s a definite payback to them.

“There is definitely a return on your investment,” he added.

A geothermal system also requires less maintenance than a typical heating and cooling system. On average, they last five to seven years longer than a regular system.

“You do not have an outdoor component; it’s all self-contained indoors. There are less moving parts, so its better for maintenance.

The pipes used in the system can be drilled in different loops, depending on the land being used. Pipes can be installed horizontally, a mere three to five feet below the surface; or vertically, drilled nearly 200 feet into the ground. Pipes also can be installed in what Smith called “lake or pond loops,” where the pipe is submerged underwater.

“It depends on the accessibility of being able to get the loops in on the project,” Smith said. More land likely means a horizontal loop; less would call for a vertical loop. Vertical loops also can be run with a well system.

The geothermal system can’t be installed if the situation does not have room for any type of loop.

For more information, contact Smith and Associates at 865-546-1476.


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