FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 
A: “Geothermal” is the commonly used term for sourcing heat from the ground. “Geoexchange” is a geothermal application that uses heat from the sun stored in the Earth to provide heating, cooling and hot water for buildings of all types.
A: The temperature of the ground below the frost line remains relatively constant year-round. This heat is collected using a series of pipes installed below ground, called a loop. The loop carries a benign thermal transfer fluid that is circulated through the ground, picking up the heat from the ground and carrying it into the building. Inside the building is a heat pump, which works essentially like your refrigerator or an air conditioner, moving heat from inside the fridge out into the kitchen. If you put your hand at the back of the fridge you can feel the heat being discharged. In a similar way the heat pump removes the heat from the ground loop and transfers it into the home or building.
A: Yes, a CleanEnergy™ geoexchange system will provide all of the air conditioning needs of the home. And even better, it does it using the same equipment it uses to heat the home or building. In the summer the system described above is automatically reversed to provide air conditioning. Heat is taken out of the home and transferred to the ground where it is stored until it is needed to heat the building. There are no noisy and unsightly air conditioners in the yard, no extra maintenance, and no additional equipment purchases.
A: Yes. Using a desuperheater the super heat from the discharge line of the compressor in the heat pump can be used to provide heat to the domestic hot water. In the warm summer months and cold winter months the compressor runs very regularly, so the desuperheater can provide almost all of the hot water for a typical home. In the shoulder seasons when the heat pump (and hence the compressor) doesn’t run as often, there is far less heat available for the hot water. Typically 65% of annual domestic hot water demand of a home or building can be met with a desuperheater.

Geoexchange systems can also be used to heat water for radiant floor heating using heat pumps that transfer the heat from the ground loop into water to be circulated through the floors rather than into air to be distributed through the ductwork.
A: Geoexchange has been used in Europe for well over 50 years, and in North America for over 30. Heat pumps have an expected life of approximately 20 to 25 years, which is significantly longer than that of a furnace (15 to 20 years). As long as the systems are designed and installed properly, they are expected to run trouble-free for decades. The only real requirement is changing the filters and periodic checks, just as with a furnace.
A: Cost
  • Monthly Savings: For homeowners, monthly mortgage payments will increase with a CleanEnergy™ geoexchange system, but utility bills will decrease even more. The average homebuyer can save between $50 to $100 per month from the first month they live in their new home
  • Lower Maintenance Costs: CleanEnergy™ geoexchange systems require very little maintenance, needing only regular filter changes (just like a furnace) and periodic checks. Since the loop is buried underground very little stress is placed on it, making it essentially maintenance-free
Comfort
  • More Comfortable: Geoexchange systems generate a more even heat than conventional systems in the winter, and have better humidity control in the summer. This means a more comfortable home environment than with any other equipment on the market
  • Quiet: All equipment is inside the home, so there is no noisy air conditioner outside. Homeowners can have a comfortable inside temperature and still enjoy the peace and quiet of their backyard
Energy Efficiency and the Environment
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions: Geoexchange systems work by moving heat, not generating it through combustion. They don’t emit carbon dioxide, the biggest culprit in climate change. GHG emissions are reduced by up to 85%
  • No Ozone Layer Depletion: CleanEnergy™ uses only heat pumps with R-410A refrigerant, which is non-toxic and doesn’t contribute to depletion of the ozone layer
Health and Safety
  • Because CleanEnergy™ geoexchange systems do not burn fossil fuels they:
    • Create absolutely no indoor air pollution, a health concern for homeowners
    • Remove all risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from the heating system
    • Reduce the risk to the homeowner of fires
A: The extremes of Canada’s climate make it ideal for geoexchange. The temperature of the ground beneath the earth’s surface remains relatively constant throughout the year, even though the outdoor air temperature may fluctuate greatly with the change of seasons. This stable ground temperature allows the CleanEnergy™ geoexchange system to use it as both a sink and a source, putting in heat in the summer, and taking it out in the winter. And because it does so much more energy efficiently than a furnace or an air conditioner, it is very cost effective.
A: A geoexchange system will cost more up front than a conventional system, but the homeowner will probably still be saving money from the first day they move into their new home. By including the cost of a properly designed and installed geoexchange system in their mortgage their monthly payments will increase. However, their monthly utility payments will decrease, probably even more. The result is that installing a geoexchange system means the homeowner will be cash flow positive from their first month in their home, and as the price of energy increases so will the savings.
A: The amount of pipe in the ground varies for each building based on two factors: the heat loss of the building (which is affected by the building’s orientation, the R-values of the walls and roof, the number of windows, etc.) and the thermal transfer characteristics of the ground. Larger homes will require more loop in the ground. Each CleanEnergy™ geoexchange system is specifically designed by our Canadian Geoexchange Coalition accredited designers and engineers so that the optimal amount of loop is installed for every project we do.
A: The pipe that makes up the geothermal loop is continuous, with a factory installed and pressure tested U-bend used for all vertical loops. All pipes in the system are joined using fusion welding, the same process that is used by the gas utilities for their pipe, so it is a common, well understood technique. Fusion welding creates a virtually leak-proof connection. Loops made out of fusion welded HDPE are expected to last well over 50 years.

The pipe used in the loop is High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) which is certified by the Canadian Standards Association. This type of pipe was designed to be buried in the ground (it is also used for water lines and small natural gas lines).

Once the loop is installed it is leak tested. If there is a flaw in the pipe or a leak anywhere in the system, it will be identified at this point. Leaks can then be isolated and fixed. Once the loop has been leak tested the chances of a leak are very, very slim.
A: CleanEnergy™ geoexchange systems are generally designed with a closed loop, so the heat transfer fluid never comes in contact with the soil or groundwater. However if a leak were to occur, the fluid that flows through the loop is denatured ethanol (it is denatured by adding a trace amount of a bitter tasting but harmless additive). This is a food-grade alcohol that can be consumed safely by humans. As a result, if there were a leak of this fluid it would not be detrimental to humans or animals.
A: No. CleanEnergy™ will only use equipment containing the refrigerant R-410A, or other approved refrigerants which are non toxic and do not deplete the ozone layer.