Cool Earth technology slashes home heating and cooling costs

01 Dec 2019

  • Innovative geoexchange technology trialled at The Vive in Craigie poised to revolutionise home energy use
  • Results show household savings up to $1000 a year in heating and cooling costs
  • DevelopmentWA's Cool Earth demonstration project recognised for research excellence at 2019 national AIRAH Awards

Western Australian households could save up to $1000 a year on heating and cooling by adopting energy saving technology trialled by DevelopmentWA's award-winning Cool Earth project.

The demonstration project – the first of its type in the world – compared the temperature and energy usage of two identical houses at The Vive estate in Craigie. One house was fitted with a geoexchange system, which uses groundwater and the earth as a 'heat sink' to cool homes in the summer and as a heat source in the winter, and the other was fitted with standard reverse-cycle air conditioning.

Results after two years of operation show the geoexchange system is up to 100 per cent more efficient in home cooling and up to 80 per cent more efficient in home heating as compared to standard reverse-cycle air conditioning, potentially slashing household energy bills by up to $1000 per year.

DevelopmentWA Chief Executive Frank Marra said the success of the Cool Earth project represented a significant win for innovation and sustainability.

"This technology has the potential to revolutionise the way Western Australians heat and cool their homes – something that currently accounts for 40 per cent of household energy use, making it a significant contributor to household bills as well as carbon emissions," said Mr Marra.

"Widespread adoption of geoexchange technology could not only slash household bills, but also reduce our environmental impact.

"DevelopmentWA believes in leading by doing. This is exactly the sort of big-impact result we look for in our Innovation Through Demonstration initiatives, delivering measurable outcomes to give industry the confidence to adopt new ideas."

The significance of the project – a collaboration between DevelopmentWA, ABN Group, GeoExchange Australia, Carbonomics and The University of Western Australia – was recognised at the 2019 Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) Awards, with Cool Earth named joint winner for excellence in HVAC&R (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration) research.

Professor Hui Tong Chua, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at The University of Western Australia, said the Cool Earth project was the first of its kind in the world.

"Geothermal energy has long been used in the northern hemisphere, particularly for home heating," said Professor Chua.

"But this is the first side-by-side trial of the effectiveness of an open-loop ground source system compared to conventional heating and cooling technology.

"The geoexchange system used in this project has delivered efficiencies well beyond our expectations, and has implications for sustainable energy use around the world."

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