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March 23, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Interested in a geothermal heating and cooling system?

Researchers at ORNL have developed a tool that calculates the cost savings such a system would produce.

Interested in installing a heating and cooling system that utilizes geothermal energy and emits no carbon, but you wonder what the return on your investment might be? If your answer is yes, a tool developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers gives building owners and equipment manufacturers, and installers an easy way to calculate the cost savings such a system would produce.

Ground source heat pumps, or GSHPs, operate with a heat exchanger that extracts heat from the ground in winter and serves as a heat sink in summer to provide cooling. ORNL’s free web-based application identifies the benefits and implementation costs for GSHP installation in existing U.S. buildings. Users can modify utility prices for electricity, water, and natural gas. A techno-economic analysis is provided in simple charts.

“You can change building characteristics, ground properties, and utility rates, and the annual return on investment is updated in real-time based on these inputs,” said ORNL’s Xiaobing Liu. “This is the only tool available that can automatically simulate and predict performance of GSHP applications.”

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