Geothermal Heat Pumps Are Grounded in Reality

Have you ever wondered what geothermal heat pumps are? It's actually quite a simple device, but one that is extremely powerful.

It's so powerful that you you really can't afford to be without one.

We don't say that lightly.

Geothermal energy is the most under-utilized renewable energy resource in the world today. Visit our pages on Geothermal Energy Facts and Enhanced geothermal Systems

What is A Geothermal Heat Pump

Simply put, it is a system of pipes that you install in the ground along side your home. These pipes contain water or another suitable fluid to transfer the heat from the ground into your house and also in the reverse – from house to ground.

And now for more detail...

The name geothermal heat pump is, strictly speaking, not correct. Because these systems are installed at relatively shallow depths in the earth's crust, their heat is really due to the sun's rays permeating through then upper crust and heating up the earth. This is distinct from traditional geothermal power plants whose heat emanates from the inner core of the earth.

Their true name is “ground source heat pumps”; however, in common usage, the term most often used to describe these heat pumps is “geothermal heat pumps” and this has stuck.

These pumps function by transferring heat from the ground to your home via a fluid, usually a water and anti-freeze mixture. The fluid passes through a heat exchanger and then is ducted through the house. The system also works in reverse so that in the summer months the warmer air is taken from the house back into the ground.

The ground temperature, once you move below the frost line, is relatively stable from 45-80°F (11-26°C) depending upon your location.

This enables the ground source heat pump to be a very efficient instrument indeed.

Different system configurations

Horizontal system - if you have a reasonable area of land available for installation, close to your house, then you will probably use a horizontal system.

The pipes are laid in a trench about 2 meters deep. In order to minimize the area of land to be trenched the “slinky” system is often used where the pipes are coiled so as to give greater exposure in a smaller area.

image of horizontalgheothermal heat pump system

Vertical system - in commercial buildings and community buildings, such as schools, there is often little land available for a horizontal system. In this case the pipes are inserted into vertical holes drilled down several hundred feet into the ground. The pipes are connected at the bottom to form a loop and at the top they feed into a pipe which runs to the building concerned.

This is a truly reversible system that allows you to heat the space in the winter and cool it in the summer. In addition, you can intercept the extraction of the warm air and use it to provide hot water.

Purchasing A Geothermal Heat Pump

The cost of purchasing such a pump varies, depending on the size requirements and location and type of installation. As a rule of thumb your system is likely to cost between $2000-8000 plus installation costs. There are kits available that offer you the possibility to do the installation yourself. The savings on your power bills will be considerable and you should recover your costs in 5-10 years.

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