The Hermitage, a 300-hectare master-planned community at Gledswood Hills in Sydney’s south-west will feature geothermal heating and cooling infrastructure to help residents save significantly on energy costs.

Developed by global residential property developer, Sekisui House, The Hermitage will be the first in the New South Wales housing market to feature geothermal technology. Sekisui House has already installed the technology at its $500 million development, Ecco Ripley in Queensland’s Ipswich.

Explaining the benefits of geothermal technology, Sekisui House Project Director Craig D’Costa said the most important advantage was the savings on electricity costs for homeowners, enabling them to save up to 60 percent on electricity bills by using the geothermal heating and cooling system.

Sekisui House has partnered with Brisbane-based company, QPS Geothermal to implement the geothermal system at The Hermitage.

QPS Geothermal Director Mark Langdon said the core benefit of the geothermal system was energy efficiency. Energy savings from a geothermal system could even go up to 70-80% during more extreme weather patterns. Even a 60% saving on the energy bill equates to around $1,000 a year. Quiet operation is also another benefit, especially in urban areas.

The Hermitage is currently trialling the Geo-Air system with a view to making it available to all new homes.

Geo-Air uses world-leading technology to draw from the constant temperature of the earth to heat or cool spaces, reducing the typical effort and energy load of conventional systems required to reach a similar temperature within the home. A geothermal ground loop is installed into the ground at depths of about 80m and the constant temperature of the earth is used to cool or absorb the heat.

The system distributes refrigerants into closed ground loops where excess heat is naturally absorbed by the much cooler subsurface temperature, following which the refrigerant condenses into a liquid and is returned to the internal fan coil to cool the space. In winter, the refrigerant is circulated through the geothermal ground loops and absorbs the heat from the ground, with the resulting hot vapour circulated through the internal fan coil to heat the space.

According to Mr Langdon, geothermal technology is highly popular in various parts of the world and is perfect for Australian conditions. About 40% of households and businesses across Europe use geothermal heating and cooling.

Geo-Air’s efficiencies have independent confirmation from the American Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). The geothermal system is also simple and comparatively inexpensive to install, and is almost invisible since most of the equipment is buried below the ground.

Sekisui House’s Mr D’Costa said homeowners at The Hermitage will very soon be able to choose geothermal heating and cooling in their homes. Once Sekisui House understood the cost savings and the environmental benefits offered by Geo-Air, they were confident the technology would be welcomed by their existing and future residents.