Geothermal heating and cooling systems provide clean energy all year long. Geothermal heat pumps can be used effectively in almost any location. Installation and design of each system takes into account several factors, including the composition of rocks and soil on the property, the availability of ground or surface water, the size and layout of the property, and the presence and location of landscaping and sprinkler systems.
What is geothermal heating and cooling?
Geothermal energy is heat from the Earth. It’s clean and sustainable. A geothermal heat pump is a central heating and/or cooling system that transfers heat to or from the ground. It uses the earth as a heat source (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer). This design takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems.
The ground heat exchanger in a GHP system is made up of a closed or open loop pipe system. Most common is the closed loop, in which high-density polyethylene pipe is buried horizontally at 4 to 6 feet deep or vertically at 100 to 400 feet deep. These pipes are filled with an environmentally friendly antifreeze/water solution that acts as a heat exchanger. In the winter, the fluid in the pipes extracts heat from the earth and carries it into the building. In the summer, the system reverses and takes heat from the building and deposits it to the cooler ground.
The air delivery ductwork distributes the heated or cooled air through the home’s ductwork, just like conventional systems. The box that contains the indoor coil and fan is sometimes called the air handler because it moves the indoor air through the heat pump for heating or cooling. The air handler contains a large blower and a filter just like conventional air conditioners.
What are the benefits?
- The biggest benefit of geothermal heating and cooling systems is that they use 25% to 50% less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems.
- They can be installed in both new homes and retrofit situations.
- The equipment and hardware requires much less space, freeing space for more productive uses.
- They provide excellent “zone” space conditioning, allowing different areas of your home to be heated or cooled to different temperatures.
- The underground piping often carries warranties of 25-50 years. The heat pumps often last 20 years or more.
- There are no outside condensing units like air conditioners, so there’s no noise outside the home.
- A two-speed geothermal system is so quiet inside a home, users usually don’t know it’s operating.
How to install
Specialized technical knowledge and equipment is needed to properly install a geothermal heating and cooling system installation. This is not a do-it-yourself project.