Everybody is looking for an affordable way to stay warm in the winter time. All over the world, scientists, governments, and innovative citizens are experimenting with heating services projects, trying to find the perfect low-cost, environmentally friendly heating sources for homes and businesses. While it may not be time to throw out your furnace or central heating system just yet, take a look at some of the promising heating projects that will change the way that you think about home heating.
The Underground City in Helsinki
In the city of Helsinki in Finland, city planners have been working hard to create a kind of shadow city under the ground. The idea is to save valuable real estate above-ground for homes and neighborhoods, while the more utilitarian features of the city operate beneath the surface.
The underground structures include parking facilities, energy infrastructure, data centers, and, of course, heating facilities. Helsinki has district heating, which is a method of providing heat to a number of different buildings from one centralized source. How does the underground city result in more affordable heat? It all starts with the data center. The computer equipment in the data center will produce excess heat, which can be harnessed using geothermal technology. Once the heat is harnessed, it can be pumped above ground to heat homes and buildings.
Not only is the city saving money on heating, it's also saving money on cooling the data center. An above-ground data center would require a lot of energy to cool, as the computers have to be kept below a certain temperature. Between the natural cooling of the nearby sea and the extraction of heat for above-ground uses, the city won't need to spend much to cool the underground data center.
The Body Heat Project in Paris
Helsinki isn't the only city that's found a way to harness the action that's happening underneath the ground. In Paris, France, experts took a look at all of the heat generated by passengers taking the underground trains daily and came up with a way to use it.
Estimates are that the calories burned by people moving around in the subway add up to about 100 watts per person. And of course, the trains themselves generate heat as they move along the tracks. As in Helsinki, the plan in Paris is to use geothermal technology to extract the heat and move it through heat exchangers and then into pipes that wild feed into the building to be heated.
The project is meant to heat 17 flats in a public housing project in the center of the city. The heating system is possible thanks to a stairway from the building that connects directly to the underground metro, making it feasible to run the pipes from the underground passageway to the building.
The Compost Heater in Wisconsin
A homeowner in Wisconsin found a unique and environmentally friendly way heat his home for minimal money. How? He used a pile of compost as a heat source and a garden hose to carry the warmth from the compost pile to heat the home's radiator. It's simpler to do than you might think.
The project begins with a pile of plant material, like fallen dead leaves and cut grass. To compost the material, it has to be damp and stay aerated, in order to allow the bacteria to breathe. The bacteria is essential, because it's the mesophillic and thermophillic bacteria that combine to heat the pile of compost.
Running a garden hose from compost pile to the radiator and back again will begin the process of moving the heat. A pump runs water through the hose to the radiator and the heat from the pile warms the water, which in turn heats up the radiator. Finally, a fan in the radiator pumps the heat into the house.
While this may not be a practical heating solution for urban and suburban homes on small lots or apartment dwellers, a similar but smaller version could be used to pre-heat hot water and at least reduce a home's heating costs.
If your home doesn't happen to be sitting on underground infrastructure, a train corridor, or a large compost pile, you can still reduce your heating costs by choosing an energy efficient furnace and having it regularly serviced. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for exciting new heating projects coming your way.