Geothermal Systems

What is a Geothermal Heat Pump?

Geothermal-Unit-182x300A geothermal or “ground-source” heat pump is an electrically powered device that uses the natural heat storage ability of the earth and/or the earth’s groundwater to heat and cool your home or business.

How does it work?

Like any type of heat pump, it simply moves heat energy form one place to another. Your refrigerator works using the same scientific principle. (See “How is a geothermal heat pump like a refrigerator?” on page 6.) By using refrigeration, the geothermal heat pump removes heat energy stored in the earth and/ or the earth’s groundwater and transfers it to the home.

How is heat transferred between the earth and the home?

The earth has the ability to absorb and store heat energy. To use that stored energy, heat is extracted from the earth through a liquid medium (water or an anti-freeze solution) and is pumped to the heat pump heat exchanger. There, the heat is used to heat your home. In summer the process is reversed and indoor heat is extracted from your home and transferred to the earth through the liquid.

Does it heat and cool the home?

One of the things that makes a heat pump so versatile is its ability to be a heating and cooling system in one. You can change from one mode to another with a simple flick of a switch on your indoor thermostat. Plus, a geothermal heat pump can assist in heating hot water year-round.

Do I need separate ground loops for heating and cooling?

No. The same loop works for both. All that happens when changing from heating to cooling, or vise versa, is that the flow of heat is reversed inside the unit.

What types of loops are available?

 There are two main types: open and closed

Does the underground pipe system really work?

The buried pipe, or “ground loop”, is the biggest technical advancement in heat pump technology to date. The idea to bury pipe in the ground to gather heat energy began in the 1 940s. But it’s only been in the last twenty-five years that new heat pump designs and improved pipe materials have been combined to make geothermal heat pumps the most efficient heating and cooling systems available.