The Basic Features and Functions of a Geothermal Heat Pump

What most homeowners say they like most 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 makes a great difference in decreasing the overall energy costs of Tennessee Valley homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.

 

Still, the system isn’t free of all 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 ambient temperatures. 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 dispensed throughout a home by way of either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season it runs in reverse: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it underground via those same buried loops. Oh, and somewhere in the process, more than a few geothermal systems also provide domestic hot water.

The fundamental differentiator between a geothermal heat pump and a traditional furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t set fuel afire to generate heat. Instead it takes heat that’s already present and merely moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Recognize this, too: underground temperatures typically remain at around 50º F through the year. Result? A geothermal heating and cooling system requires 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.