Heat Your House With Underground Water
Question: Can you heat a 3,270 square foot home . . . in the severest North Dakota winter weather . . . for less than $80 per month?
For Donald and Georgine Pollert, James Valley Electric Cooperative members farming south of Litchville, N.D., that answer is yes!
Despite last winter's severe weather ¨ remember, they called it the coldest winter of the century ¨ their highest monthly heating bill (January 1981) was about $80. You see, the Pollerts solved the problem of low-cost heating for their new home with a groundwater heat pump.
Because energy efficiency had the highest priority for the Pollerts, the home was constructed with fully insulated 8-in. wood basement walls, 6-in. exterior walls, 14 in. of insulation in the attic, and triple-glazed windows. Windows on the north and west walls were kept smaller; larger windows and a patio door were placed on the south wall for greatest efficiency and maximum solar gain.
A groundwater heat pump works somewhat like a refrigerator. When a gallon of warm water is placed inside a refrigerator, the heat is removed from the water, dropping its temperature several degrees. The heat that is removed from the water is expelled into the kitchen. Likewise, a groundwater heat pump cools many gallons of water and expels the heat into the home.
The key to successful installation is an adequate water supply of the proper temperature, and one that is low in iron content. The Pollerts were hopeful; they had a good supply of water from a shallow 50-ft. well. But would it be enough? The well had to have the capacity to supply at least 8 to 10 gal. per minute.
Traut Wells, a well-drilling firm from Jamestown, was called in to test the water supply. It was good news. Don says tests proved the well was capable of supplying up to 110 gal. per minute ¨ far more than was needed.
According to Don, the system is simple. With a shallow well groundwater heat pump system, two wells must be dug. Water is pumped from one well through the heatpump; after the heat is extracted, the water is discharged into a second well located about 130 ft. from the first well. The water is not exposed to any air, so no state water permits are required.
On the Pollerts system, the well water enters the heat pump at 46 ? F., 6 ? are drawn off, and the water is discharged into a second well at 40 ?. Don says it's important to draw water from the north well and discharge into the south well. "They tell me water flows in underground rivers from north to south, just like it does above ground," he says. "So by drawing your water from the north well and discharging it Šdownstream' in the south well, the 40-degree water is carried away and doesn't lower the overall temperature in the first well," he explains.
When you talk to Don and Georgine about their heating system, their enthusiasm is contagious; they certainly believe in this type of heating system and quickly make a believer out of you. Don says, "My neighbors ask me, ŠHow's your water heat?' And I tell them about it; I'm really satisfied. We were lucky ¨ really lucky ¨ that we had the water supply and could use this system."
For more information on heat pumps, contact your local rural electric cooperative.
(Reprinted with permission from the North Dakota REC magazine, Mandan, N. Dak.)

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #2