Illinois Geothermal Coalition

By Conor Hollingsworth

Published: Jun. 8, 2022

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – With the cost of natural gas and electricity on the rise, Illinois environmentalists believe heating pumps powered by geothermal energy can be very cost-effective in the long run for heating and cooling your house.

“They use a small amount of electricity. Usually way less than half for heating and cooling to just move the Earth’s natural energy into a home,” said John Freitag, Executive Director for the Geothermal Alliance of Illinois. “So it’s both renewable energy and energy efficiency all in one.”

They also claim Illinois is perfect for these pumps, as the temperature of the soil six feet below the Earth stays at a constant 50 degrees the entire year.

But how does it work? Heat pumps can be installed in your backyard. The pumps have fluid in them that flows into the Earth to cool, gets heated up by the natural warmth of the Earth, then comes back out of the pumps to heat your home.

“You’ve got a fluid running through that so it goes down cold, comes back up warm and into the building. They capture some of that heat in the system, move it up from 50 to 70 degrees,” said Jay Solomon, Illinois Extension Natural Resource Educator.

It works the opposite in the summer for your air conditioning, cooling down hot air with the 50 degree soil. Scientists compare it to an electric car. Upfront costs are high, but you save a lot of money over time.

“You’re gonna pay more for the electric vehicle, but over time you’re probably going to spend maybe less than half, way less than half, and that’s exactly how it works with heat pumps as well,” Freitag told 23 News.

Some buildings on the University of Illinois campus use this form of energy and have been able to cut heating and cooling costs by 72%.

“Unlike what we’re dealing with right now where our electric costs and our natural gas costs have rose, risen pretty significantly recently, yours is locked in for the next 20 years,” Solomon said.

These scientists say the system works perfectly with solar energy. If you use solar to power your geothermal generator, you will have a completely renewable circuit, as there will be a renewable form of energy heating and cooling your house, and a renewable form of energy powering that generator.

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CBS 23 WIFR – Scientists tout the benefits of geothermal energy