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 makes a great difference in 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 ambient temperatures. In Consequence, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner rolled into one unobtrusive package.

Water – or an antifreeze solution – is the medium by which the heat pump transfers heat. This liquid courses through loops of underground pipes to which the heat pump is secured above ground. 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 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 somewhere in the process, more than a few geothermal systems also provide domestic hot water.

The crucial differentiator between a geothermal heat pump and a conventional furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t set fuel afire to generate heat. Instead it takes heat that already exists and simply moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Keep this in mind, too: underground temperatures typically remain at around 50º F through the year. Result? 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.