18 May 2017
Although air temperatures over land surfaces show wide seasonal and daily variations, the ground, approximately 10 meters below the earth’s surface, remains relatively stable in temperature thereby serving as an energy source or sink. Ground source heat pumps can heat, cool, and supply homes with hot water efficiently by utilizing the earth’s renewable and essentially inexhaustible energy resources, saving fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and lowering the environmental footprint. In this paper, evidence is shown that ground source heat pumps can provide up to 79%-87% of domestic hot water energy needs, and up to 77% of space heating needs with the ground’s thermal energy resources. The case refers to a 12-month study conducted at a 253 m2 research house located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 36.01° N 84.26°W in a mixed-humid climate with HDD of 2218°C-days and CDD of 723°C-days under simulated occupancy conditions. A single 94.5m vertical bore interfaced the heat pump with the ground. The research shows that this technology is capable of achieving US DOE targets of 25 % and 35% energy savings in HVAC, and in water heating, respectively by 2030. It is also a viable technology to meet greenhouse gas target emissions under the IECC 2012 Standard, as well as the European Union (EU) 2020 targets of using renewable energy resources. The paper quantifies systemic efficiencies using Exergy analysis of the major components, clearly identifying areas for further improvement.