Boise’s Unique Secret: America's First Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Well and Pump

The more time you spend in Idaho’ capital city, the more unique qualities you will discover. As you walk around downtown, you will probably run across freshly painted murals, or the whitewashed piano, splashed here and there by bright colors, being played by passing pedestrians, or the Anne Frank Memorial. But there is more to Boise’s personality than meets the eye. In fact, many Boise houses for sale, and local businesses, are affected by a truly unique feature of the area. Geothermal energy is a source of heat for 65 businesses in the downtown area.  It was one the first places in the world to use geothermal energy to heat buildings.

How It Works

You may wonder how Idaho’s geothermal energy works. For fisheries, greenhouses, and spas, the groundwater heated by its proximity to magma is tapped and allowed to reach the surface. To heat buildings, pipes filled with water or solution are channeled down into the warm ground deep below the surface. Due to changes in density, the hot water rises toward the surface, cools as heat enters the building, and sinks back down in a loop. For electricity generation, hot water or steam is used to turn turbines to generate electricity.

Early Days

Idaho Hot SpringGeothermal energy is a resource that Idaho’s early residents discovered. Settlers, trappers, and miners gathered around the many hot springs in Idaho for water, recreation, bathing, and other activities. Hot springs became a resort destination for people. In places like Lava Hot Springs, Givens Hot Springs, and Guyer Hot Springs, resorts became a major economic asset. Public access hot springs also remain open to campers, travelers, residents, and passers-by. Idaho’s geothermal qualities became a recreational asset. But it was not limited to that.

Around the turn of the century, from the 1800’s to the 1900’s, Boise City endeavored to utilize the geothermal energy in the Idaho area for more than just recreation. They saw this resource as a possible means to heat buildings. This led to the integration of geothermal heating units in the newly created heating district. The Natatorium, a recreation center that is running to this day, is a landmark of the area. This geothermally heated pool is a great destination for those interested in Boise houses for sale, since it provides entertainment for people of all ages. Several other geothermal heating districts were established in Boise following this first and local businesses utilizing geothermal energy include a greenhouse, a fishery, an electric company, and many more.

Current Day Uses

Geothermal DrillingIdaho’s geothermal heating districts are a source of pride for Idahoans. This renewable resource allows investors in Boise houses for sale to enjoy not only fantastic mineral hot springs, but also the pleasure of helping clean-running businesses. Geothermal equipment for heating and running buildings remains expensive to install, but Idaho officials are optimistic about continuing to utilize this fantastic resources.

As you search our listings of Boise houses for sale, take a bit of time to search out Boise’s many idiosyncrasies. Whether it is the clever graffiti in Freak Alley, the quaint shops in historic downtown, or the geothermal energy utilized for recreation and energy production, you can find a quality that suits your tastes and interests. Talk to one of our agents when you find a home you like and get started on your adventure in this great city.


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