The Basic Features and Functions of a Geothermal Heat Pump

One of the great things about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has almost no moving parts. There’s just that much less that can get screwed up– that much less to maintain. And that by itself goes a long way toward decreasing the overall energy costs of Tennessee Valley homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.

 

Still, the system does have some moving parts. Most of them are found in its most important component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the system’s engine. Its purpose is to transfer heat. And it transfers heat either from the ground into your house or from your house into the ground, depending on the season30. In Consequence, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner integrated into one discreet package.

Water – or an antifreeze solution – is the medium by which the heat pump transfers heat. This liquid courses through underground loops of pipe that are secured to the above-ground heat pump. During heating season the liquid draws heat from the ground, the heat pump draws the warm liquid up into refrigerant coils, and from there the heat is circulated throughout a home by way of either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season it runs the other way ’round: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it underground via those same buried loops. Oh, and as an added bonus, more than a few geothermal systems also produce domestic hot water.

The crucial differentiator between a geothermal heat pump and a traditional furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t burn fuel to generate heat. Instead it takes heat that’s already present and simply moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Keep this in mind, too: underground temperatures almost always remain at around 50º F year round. And that means? A geothermal heating and cooling system uses considerably less energy to cool your home than typical air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system best for your Tennessee Valley home? See this region’s geothermal gurus, the helpful people at Southern Solar Systems.