What is GEOthermal?
A geothermal heat pump or ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a central heating and/or cooling system that transfers heat to or from the ground. It uses the earth as a heat source.
Ground source heat pumps are among the most energy efficient systems available. Depending on the situation, typical energy savings are from 25% to 70%. Although the original investment in a geothermal system may be higher than the investment in a regular system, the long-term return on that investment makes it one worthwhile. According to the U.S. EPA, these systems have the lowest life cycle cost of any hvac system. Although they usually cost more to install, they generally require less maintenance and repairs, the energy source is both free and renewable, and the typical system lifespan exceeds 24 years—compared to 15 years for a traditional system.
The theory behind a typical geothermal system is almost as old as mankind. As our cave-dwelling ancestors discovered, when you go deep enough underground, the earth's temperature stays constantly around 50 degrees, regardless of how hot or cold it is outside.
Using this technique, a ground-source heat pump is one that simply cycles water through an underground piping loop. The water piped through this loop uses soil temperature to warm or cool the heat pump's refrigerant. Also, because the heat pump is also located indoors, like a furnace, it is working in a much more efficient environment.
Closed loop systems are the industry standard. These loop systems use a sealed water system where the water is used over and over instead of being dumped. While conventional heat pumps struggle to obtain heat from freezing winter air, or to disperse it during a boiling summer day, a 'ground-source' geothermal heat pump only has to extract and diffuse heat through the 50-degree liquid circulating in its ground loop, all year round.
Another advantage -- geothermal systems don't rely on fossil fuel and produce no carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or other greenhouse gases. Homeowners receive added comfort, enhanced indoor air quality and less noise as they decrease their carbon footprint.