Improvise, Resourceful

Exploring a better way

Geothermal ways to incorporate into their home’s heating and cooling system, Mr. Kernan made his home and office (both are in the same 1890 Victorian building complex) the most efficient, energy-saving complex possible. His design was to use his 40,000 gallon pool to provide thermal storage, or a heat sink, for the heating and cooling system. A heat sink transfers thermal energy from a higher temperature source to a lower temperature source. Not surprisingly, as an engineer, Mr. Kernan relished the challenge.

Because the engineering was a labor of love and hobby, it was modified over many years and served as a training ground and experimentation opportunity for systems designed for clients. The piping and equipment connections appear to be a deliberately over-engineered nest of piping, controls and equipment.

Mr. Kernan often laughs at the backward efficiencies of the system. “In the summer too much heat is deposited in the heat sink when the air-conditioning loads are greatest making the pool too hot; and too little heat is deposited in the heat sink in the winter (primarily from the computer loads) leaving the pool cooler in the winter than you would like for swimming.”

Mr. Kernan finds great pleasure in experimenting with the design to improve the systems effectiveness. “This is a passion of mine,” Kernan shares. “The greatest thrill in the world is to find ways to make things work better and advance our society.”