Geothermal Heat Pumps
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 (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer). This design takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems. The temperature beneath the upper 6 meters (20 feet) of earth’s surface maintains a nearly constant temperature between 10 and 16°C (50 and 60°F). A ground source heat pump exchanges heat with the ground. This is much more energy-efficient because underground temperatures are more stable than air temperatures through the year.
BENEFITS OF A GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM
Green Technology: It reduces pollution. Today there are more than 1,000,000 geothermal heat pump installations in the United States. The impact of the current use of ground source heat pumps is equivalent to: taking close to 1,295,000 cars off the road, planting more than 385 million trees, and reducing U.S. reliance on imported fuels by 21.5 million barrels of crude oil.
Safe: There are no flames or gases. Ground source heat pump systems are safe and protected. With no exposed equipment outdoors, children and pets cannot injure themselves or damage exterior units. Ground heat pumps have no open flame, flammable fuel, or potentially dangerous fuel storage tanks. Because ground heat pumps don’t burn gases, dangerous carbon monoxide in your home is no longer a worry.
More Efficient: The biggest benefit of GHPs is that they use 25 to 50% less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems.
Low Operating and Maintenance Costs: Geothermal systems have one of the lowest relative operating and maintenance costs of any HVAC system available. Their annual operating costs are often lower than conventional systems, such as built-up air handlers, rooftop units, or VAV applications. Maintenance and service of these systems are easy and do not require specialized training. This gives owners more options for maintaining and servicing their equipment.
Environmentally Responsible: The Department of Energy (DOE) applauds geothermal systems as being among the most environmentally responsible heating/cooling systems available today. The ground loop is completely sealed to eliminate the risk of soil and aquifer contamination. In addition, some available units use HFC-410A or HFC-407C refrigerants with no ozone depletion potential. This supports the Montreal Protocol and the elimination of ozone depleting substances. The high efficiency of geothermal systems helps reduce the requirement for utilities to burn fossil fuels, which in turn decreases CO2 emissions to the environment. Rebate programs, available through many utilities and government agencies, are a testament to the outstanding efficiency of geothermal systems.
Residential Installation: A GSHP (ground source heat pump) system can be installed in a residential structure of any size anywhere, whether it is a single-family or multi-family residence. GSHPs can be installed on almost any size lot—under lawns, landscaped areas, driveways, or even the house itself—and in new construction or existing home retrofits.