Geothermal: unsung hero of heating
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
by Richard Watts
Heat-exchange expert Doug Lockhart has two problems with geothermal heating systems: neighbours can’t see them and no moving parts attract the casual onlooker.
“If I go to your house and put in a geo-thermal system, nobody knows,” said Lockhart, owner and president of Lockhart Industries in Duncan.
“But when you put photo-voltaic [solar energy] cells on your roof or a windmill in your backyard, there is this instant recognition,” he said. “It’s a validation you have done something positive for the environment.”
This lack of public recognition has even had Lockhart and colleagues considering whether to give out medallions or special, twirling weather-vanes to advertise a home or building whose owner has opted for a geothermal energy system.
The same lack of recognition also means Canadian homes and building owners are missing out on one of the most efficient and effective sources of heat energy in the world, heat-exchange technology.
It can be an air-to-air, home heat pump easily spotted beside many a suburban house. It can be a system of heat-collecting pipes arranged in coils and buried underground.
Or, those coiled pipes can be arranged on the floor of the ocean, a lake or year-round pond, to give up the water’s heat to a nearby building or home.
Brentwood College School at Shawnigan Lake has invested heavily in an ocean system and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in heating costs.
But still, heat-exchange technology is a tough sell.
Municipalities get squeamish about drilling rigs and trenches during installation. Home builders are reluctant about installing anything that adds costs. The public often just don’t understand it.
“The biggest problem is people just don’t know what the technology can do,” said Lockhart.
“It’s very, very nice technology,” he said. “But it’s just out of the core competency or core knowledge of most people.”...
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