The Geothermal Heat Pump
Homeowners in virtually every region of the country are enjoying a high level of comfort and significantly reducing their energy use today by heating and cooling their homes with geothermal heat pumps (GHPs).
Geothermal heat pump technology relies primarily on the Earth’s natural thermal energy, a renewable resource, to heat or cool a home or commercial building. The only additional energy GHP systems require is the small amount of electricity they employ to concentrate what Mother Nature provides and then to circulate high-quality heating and cooling throughout the building.
Homeowners who use GHP systems give them superior ratings because of their ability to deliver comfortably warm air, even on the coldest winter days, and because of their extraordinarily low operating costs. As an additional benefit, GHP systems can provide inexpensive hot water, either to supplement or replace entirely the output of a conventional, domestic water heater.
Geothermal heating and cooling is cost effective because it uses energy so efficiently. This makes it very environmentally friendly, too. For these reasons, agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy recognize it.
Owners of geothermal heat pump systems can relax and enjoy high-quality heating and cooling year after year. These systems work on a different principle than an ordinary furnace/air conditioning system, and they require little maintenance or attention from homeowners. Furnaces must create heat by burning a fuel – typically natural gas, propane, or fuel oil.
With geothermal heating systems, there’s no need to create heat, hence no need for chemical combustion. Instead, the Earth’s natural heat is collected in winter through a series of pipes, called a loop, installed below the surface of the ground or submersed in a pond or lake. Fluid circulating in the loop carries this heat to the home. An indoor geothermal heat pump then uses electrically – driven compressors and heat exchangers in a vapor compression cycle, the same principle employed in a refrigerator, to concentrate the Earth’s energy and release it inside the home at a higher temperature. In typical systems, duct fans distribute the heat to various rooms.
In summer, the process is reversed in order to cool the home. Excess heat is drawn from the home, expelled to the loop, and absorbed by the Earth. GHP systems provide cooling in the same way that a refrigerator keeps its contents cool – by drawing heat from the interior and moving it to an outside space.
Geothermal heat pump systems do the work that ordinarily requires two appliances, a furnace and an air conditioner. They can be located indoors because there’s no need to exchange heat with the outdoor air. They’re so quiet homeowners don’t even realize they’re on. They are also compact. Typically, they are installed in a basement or attic, and some are small enough to fit atop a closet shelf. The indoor location also means the equipment is protected from mechanical breakdowns that could result from exposure to harsh weather.
Geothermal heat pumps work differently than conventional heat pumps that use the outdoor air as their heat source or heat sink. GHP systems don’t have to work as hard (which means they use less energy) because they draw heat from a source whose temperature is moderate.
The temperature of the ground or groundwater a few feet beneath the Earth’s surface remains relatively constant throughout the year, even though the outdoor air temperature may fluctuate greatly with the change of seasons. At a depth of approximately six feet, for example, the temperature of soil in most of the world’s regions remains stable between 45 F and 70 F. This is why well water drawn from below ground tastes so cool even on the hottest summer days.
In winter, it’s much easier to capture heat from the soil at a moderate 50 degrees than from the atmosphere when the air temperature. This is also why GHP systems encounter no difficulty blowing comfortably warm air through a home’s ventilation system, even when the outdoor air temperature is extremely cold. Conversely, in summer, the relatively cool ground absorbs a home’s waste heat more readily than the warm outdoor air.
Studies show that approximately 70 percent of the energy used in a geothermal heating and cooling system is renewable energy from the ground. The remainder is clean, electrical energy which is employed to concentrate heat and transport it from one location to another. In winter, the ground soaks up solar energy and provides a barrier to cold air. In summer, the ground heats up more slowly than the outside air.
Comfort Mechanical carries two lines of Geothermal units. Bosch, formerly Florida Heat Pump and Comfort Aire. Are you desiring to save even more money on your commercial utility bills? Consider geothermal for your business too.