Geothermal heat pumps work by taking advantage of renewable solar energy stored in the ground to save up to 72% on heating and cooling costs. Although it works in a similar way to a standard heat pump, a geothermal heat pump exchanges heat with the ground rather than with the outside air. The geothermal heat pump, also known as a ground-based heat pump, is a highly efficient renewable energy technology that is gaining wide acceptance in both residential and commercial buildings. Geothermal heat pumps are used to heat and cool spaces, as well as to heat water.
The advantage of terrestrial heat pumps is that they concentrate existing heat naturally, instead of producing heat through the combustion of fossil fuels. During the winter, the geothermal heat pump draws heat from the floor heat exchanger and channels it to the building's air transfer system, which keeps the house warm and comfortable. During the summer, the cycle is reversed. The geothermal heat pump draws heat from the air inside the building and transfers it to the ground heat exchanger.
The heat exchanger sheds heat to the ground. The heat extracted from inside the building in summer can be used to heat water, providing owners with free hot water throughout the summer. Geothermal heat pumps are more efficient and consume less electricity for cooling than even hyperefficient central air conditioning systems. The scientific and engineering communities prefer to call them terrestrial source and geo-exchange heat pumps to alleviate the confusion with conventional geothermal energy, which draws hot water several meters deep from the Earth in order to produce electricity.
Read on to understand how geothermal heat pumps work, how much they cost and if they're a smart investment. To recover from a difficult period, the tense geothermal system will likely need the help of a complementary heat source, such as an electric resistance heater. That's because standard air conditioning units remove hot air from your home and release it to outdoor heat, while geothermal heat pumps move warm air to the floor by 50 degrees, where it's easier to accept. That's just a small detail compared to the approximately one million conventional heat pumps that were sold during the same period, even though terrestrial heat pumps cost about the same.
Some geothermal heat pumps can be connected to an existing air controller, other units come with their own integral air controller. For this type of geothermal heat pump, two vertical loops bent in a U-shape are placed in small holes (four inches in diameter, 100 to 400 feet deep and 2 feet apart) in the ground. Geothermal systems, on the other hand, transfer heat through long loops of liquid-filled pipes buried in the ground. With a geothermal heat pump, there is no on-site combustion and, therefore, there are no emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or other greenhouse gases.
Only between a third and a quarter of the energy supplied in heating with a geothermal system comes from electricity consumption, the rest is extracted from the ground. Geothermal energy has allowed many to heat their homes in winter, cool them in summer and provide plenty of hot water all year round, while reducing utility bills by up to 80%. For every 1 unit of energy used to power your geothermal system, on average 4 units of thermal energy are supplied. .