What is a Geothermal Heat Pump?
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.
How Geothermal Heat Pumps Work
Economics of Geothermal Heat Pumps
Although the purchase and installation cost of a residential geothermal heat pump (GHP) system is often higher than that of other heating and cooling systems, properly sized and installed GHPs deliver more energy per unit consumed than conventional systems. For further savings, GHPs equipped with a device called a “desuperheater” can heat household water. In the summer cooling period, the heat that is taken from the house is used to heat the water for free. In the winter, water heating costs are reduced by about half.
Depending on factors such as climate, soil conditions, the system features you choose, and available financing and incentives, you may recoup your initial investment in two to ten years through lower utility bills.
Evaluating Your Home for a Geothermal Heat Pump
Shallow ground temperatures are relatively constant throughout the United States, so geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) can be effectively used almost anywhere. However, the specific geological, hydrological, and spatial characteristics of your land will help your local system supplier/installer determine the best type of ground loop for your site.