April 2010: This piece appeared in the eco section of Le Dauphine newspaper - see translation of the piece and press clipping below.

Choosing geothermic heating

Chris is currently building a chalet in the commune of Sainte Foy. From the outset of the project, he knew that the electricity requirement (95KW/jour) would be higher than is currently available.

“In France, we are very behind on geothermal heating.”

Chris says that the cost of installing geothermal heating on the mountain, particularly the earthwork element, is higher than a traditional installation on flatter ground, which would be recovered in energy-cost savings over 10 years. “It will take a little longer to recover in this instance.”

“Ecological considerations are standard now. The insulation for the roof and wall interiors is wood fibre, completely natural and chemical free.”

“The special membrane installed in the roof allows it to breathe and the roofing stone, exterior stonework and timbers were recovered from old buildings.”

“In Switzerland they’ve had geothermal heating in houses for 30 years. Here in France, we’re very late.”

The geothermics will heat the chalet and provide all the hot water required. The principle of the installation is to recover the energy contained directly in the ground. Two circuits of pipes have been laid underground, one at a depth of 80cm and one at 1.5m. There were also 4 boreholes drilled to a depth of 120m.

The hardware is highly technical, the networks of pipes divided into secure multiple independent networks. Geothermics continue to function even at very low negative outside temperatures. This kind of heating is much less sensitive to the temperature variations, since it draws its energy from the ground. The heat is distributed in the chalet via a closed-water circuit using a heat pump, which draws from the heat collected from the ground. As Chris puts it simply, “It works on the same principle as a refrigerator, but the compressor functions in reverse”.

le dauphine geothermic heating