Geothermal heat is keeping Habitat for Humanity’s new home in North Pole toasty at half the cost of a regular water boiler, delivering savings directly to the family who moved into the house in January.
Now, the non-profit has another geothermal project on the table. With high heating fuel prices in the Interior, and a federal tax rebate in place until 2016, is geothermal a viable heating source for Interior Alaska on a large scale?
A house delivering savings
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that constructs homes for families in need. The family then buys the house from the organization, paying it back on a 20-year loan with no interest.
Part of the organization’s building standards are that the costs to live there cannot exceed 30 percent of a family’s gross income. “The heating part of it is huge,” executive director Jay Pruce said. “That’s what puts (families) in sub-standard housing.”
Geothermal heat pumps, also known as ground-source heat pumps, work by extracting heat from the ground through a closed-loop system of pipes called a heat-exchange system. The systems can be installed either horizontally or vertically in the ground, and rely on electricity to run. For a house to be outfitted with geothermal, it needs to have either forced air or radiant heat systems.
Ground-source heat pumps used to heat homes are different from geothermal power derived from underground hot springs such as that used at the Chena Hot Springs reso...