Guess what treasure lies buried under this lavender field? It’s not hidden pirate booty or a chest of gold, but rather a geothermal field of underground pipes that saves a huge amount on George Washington Inn’s power bill.
Energy consumption at George Washington Inn (with 9,300 sq. ft of heated floor space) averaged only $293 per month over the past year. This is remarkable considering that guests enjoy spacious rooms with huge spa tubs, fireplaces and their own thermostats! Why is it so low? What’s the secret? We installed geothermal heating which uses the ground’s constant 55 degree temperature. Here’s the breakdown month by month over the past year:
January $307.90 February $269.93 March $239.38 April $309.62 May $284.84 June $250.60 July $279.36 August $361.22 September $286.80 October $262.50 November $284.32 December $380.16
The underground loops were installed about 5 feet under the lavender field so the ground now serves double duty. Instead of hearing loud air conditioners running, guests can sit outside on the veranda and enjoy the birds singing or the ocean waves crashing below.
George Washington was always striving to be a good steward of his land at Mount Vernon and was contantly experimenting with agriculture. We feel he would be proud of the stewardship of this land and the savings that it creates here at George Washington Inn & Estate.
How does it work?
Geothermal energy can be tapped to realize significant savings in the heating and cooling of a home. While many parts of the country experience seasonal temperature extremes—from scorching heat in the summer to sub-zero cold in the winter—a few feet below the earth’s surface the ground remains at a relatively constant temperature. The ground temperature under the inn is approximately 55°F. Like a cave, the temperature is warmer than the air above it during the winter and cooler than the air in the summer.
Geothermal heat pumps use the constant temperature of the earth to provide cooling and heating for a home. A loop of piping is buried in the ground and a refrigerant fluid circulates through the loop. In the summer, the fluid uses the cooler temperature of the ground to provide indoor cooling. During colder months, the geothermal heat pump uses the below-ground temperature, which is significantly warmer than the outside air, to warm the home. There is no contamination of groundwater or pollution of the air in the process.
Unlike traditional furnaces and central air conditioning systems, geothermal heat pumps do not use energy to generate hot or cool air. These systems use energy only to move cooler or warmer air, depending on the season, into and out of the home. As a result, a geothermal heat pump is a very energy-efficient method for heating and cooling.
Even though the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of conventional heating and cooling systems of equal capacity, the additional costs are returned in energy savings in 5 to 10 years. System life is estimated at 25 years for the inside components and 50+ years for the ground loop.
Source: United States Department of Energy