The Fundamental How and Why of a Geothermal Heat Pump

What most people say they appreciate best about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has almost no moving parts. There’s just that much less that can go haywire– that much less to keep up. And that by itself goes a long way toward reducing the overall energy costs of Northern Virginia homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.

 

Still, the system isn’t free of all moving parts. the bulk of them are found in its most conspicuous component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the engine that drives the system. Its task 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. Thus, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner united in one compact package.

What, then, does a heat pump use to transfer heat? Water! Well, that or a solution incorporating antifreeze. This liquid circulates through loops of underground pipes to which the heat pump is linked 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 the exact opposite happens: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it to the earth by way of those same buried loops. Oh, and somewhere in the process, more than a few geothermal systems also supply domestic hot water.

The basic distinction between a geothermal heat pump and a standard furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t set fuel afire to generate heat. No, indeed, it takes heat that’s already there and merely moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Keep this in mind, too: underground temperatures usually remain at around 50º F year round. And that means? A geothermal heating and cooling system requires significantly less energy to cool your home than standard air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system the right way to go for your Northern Virginia home? See this region’s geothermal specialists, the helpful folks at Renewable Energy Solutions.