Search for alternatives heats up

As the seasons change, so do our heating and cooling needs and the ways we do this in our homes could change dramatically in coming years.

Not only is geothermal energy a great investment in the environment- it is emission-free, but it could reduce the costs associated with heating and cooling by 75 per cent because it takes its energy from the earth’s naturally-stored heat.

It works by circulating fluid, water or refrigerant through pipes installed in building foundations or boreholes then back to the surface.

Therefore, it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To warm buildings, heat in the fluid is extracted through a heat pump and in summer this is revered with heat removed from the building by the pump and deposited underground.

The Victorian Government has already invested $1.6 million for The University of Melbourne and its industrial partners, Geotechnical Engineering and Direct Energy to further investigate this form of heating and cooling.

As great as this system is, geothermal energy doesn’t generate or replace our need for electricity, but it does save energy and reduce our effects on the environment.

Building on this, Geoscience Australia estimated that by using only one per cent of the geothermal heat resource within the top five kilometres of the earth’s crust, we could provide 26,000 times our annual energy consumption.

Australia will continue to explore this alternative energy source and, with further development, the price of introducing it to our homes will come down.